Alloro (Italian for laurel) is not stuffed with frocks in breast-cancer-awareness pink. But the privately funded company will give 25 percent of its sales to breast cancer research. The line is not matronly, but it doesn’t fall prey to disposable fads. It is not medicinal, but it makes allowances for all of the ways in which modern science damages the body in its attempts to fix it.
“The pretty part was our first jumping-off point,” says Landeaux, who is Kamen’s cousin. “There are no hidden prosthetics things. It’s fashion.” Indeed, several of the pieces — an open-knit sweater and a pair of leopard-print trousers — are reminiscent of looks from Landeaux’s signature collection, which she sells through her Greenwich Village boutique.
Silk charmeuse camisoles in shades of violet and sea foam, priced at $125, float away from the body on superfine straps. Necklines drape into a not-too-low-cut cowl that is engineered not to slip off the shoulders and reveal the close-set straps of a prosthetic bra. Blouses are stitched with curved seams so that a woman who did not opt for breast reconstruction can go without prosthetics and not feel that her silhouette is concave. And a $250 cherry-red bolero has small interior pockets to hold drainage paraphernalia during the early days of recovery.
Kamen came up with a list of 20 bullet points — post-surgical issues — that the collection would address, from a limited range of motion and prohibitions on carrying anything weighing more than 10 pounds to fingertips numbed by chemotherapy. So, for example, a mesh handbag weighs, as Landeaux says, less than a bottle of perfume, and a linen blouse employs black lacquered snaps instead of buttons.
“I think we’ve done some great things that address all the criteria for these women — physically and psychologically,” Landeaux says.
When Kamen showed the collection to Neiman Marcus — more for feedback than to solicit sales, as the clothes are sold through trunk shows now — Martha Slagle, the general manager of the Mazza Gallerie store, was impressed enough to host a luncheon for Alloro’s founders along with, as they say in the land of policy and wonkery, stakeholders.
“We’re very conscious that a lot of our customers have gone through breast cancer,” Slagle says. The luncheon celebrating Alloro “was to raise awareness that people out there are doing this.”
“We see it as community service,” Slagle says.
Everyone should be able to participate in the fashion circus — breast cancer survivors, too. “It’s for them,” Kamen says. “It’s to make them feel a little joy.”