The sixth annual Blue Jacket Fashion Show combined the worlds of glamor and healthcare to raise awareness and funds for men diagnosed with prostate cancer.
A wide array of celebrities and media icons showed up to support the charity event, including Anna Wintour, Don Lemon and Al Roker.
“Just making awareness is the most important thing, Roker told Variety on Thursday night at Moonlight Studios in SoHo. “Knowledge is power.”
Fashion designer Frederick Anderson co-founded the charity event in 2017 alongside producer Laura Miller. Sponsored by Janssen Oncology, the charity event will donate proceeds to the nonprofit advocacy group Zero: The End of Prostate Cancer.
Anderson paid tribute to fashion journalism icon André Leon Talley, who passed away last month. He was 73. Talley, who served as the first and only Black creative director at U.S. Vogue, hosted the Blue Jacket Fashion Show twice.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, men have been checking in for fewer health care screenings. Research has revealed a 23% decline in prostate cancer diagnoses when compared to pre-pandemic numbers.
“Last year, we were like, ‘Should we do it again? Is it gonna seem odd?’ And then we realized the numbers have been skyrocketing because no one could get a doctor’s appointment during COVID,” Anderson said.
The American Cancer Society estimates that 268,490 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed in the U.S. and 34,500 men will die from the disease in 2022.
“One in eight men will get prostate cancer at some point in their lives,” actor Dominic Fumusa (“The Equalizer”) told Variety. “The good news is it’s the kind of cancer that if it’s caught early, it’s almost always something that you can recover from. It’s really about getting screened every year as part of your annual physical.”
Fumusa added, “My father had prostate cancer, but we caught it early and he didn’t die from it. He lived to be 99.”
The fashion show also placed an emphasis on racial disparities seen in the data. Black men in the U.S. are reportedly 2.2 times more likely to die from prostate cancer than white men, according to Zero Cancer.
“My family has dealt with prostate cancer very, very heavily,” said actor and former NFL wide receiver Dale Moss. “Men of color, people of color, disproportionately suffer from prostate cancer. It’s just amazing to be able to have fun and enjoy this [event], but also you’re standing for something that’s bigger than yourself.”
“America’s Next Top Model” judge Nigel Barker, who’s maintained a perfect attendance record by attending all six Blue Jacket Fashion Shows, emphasized the importance of constantly reminding people about the importance of prostate exams.
“Guys often laugh about prostate exams, but it’s actually real serious,” Barker said. “If we don’t all come together and take away the stigma attached to being examined, unfortunately, many of these guys may not actually make it. It’s about for me, and the older generations, letting my son know that I’m getting checked so that he realizes that’s something that needs to happen.”
“Star Trek: Discovery” actor Wilson Cruz echoed Barker’s comments and highlighted the importance of getting over the stigma around colonoscopies.
“As we say in the 23rd century on ‘Star Trek,’ you have to nip these things in the bud,” Cruz said. “Men are already so hesitant to go get checked on these things anyway, so we really have to motivate people to show up. We have to get over the stupid weirdness with that area to begin with.”