August 31 2014

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New York’s Fashion Industry Rallies Behind BORNFREE


Samantha Power, Diane von Furstenberg“At the heart of [Africa's HIV/Aids pandemic] is an acronym that is seriously problematic: PMTCT, the prevention of mother-to-child transmission,” said U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power in a speech during last night’s launch of BORNFREE, a new initiative that aims to eliminate just that. Hosted by CFDA president Diane von Furstenberg at her studio in New York’s Meatpacking District, the affair drew scores of fashion insiders—Alexander Wang, Bruce Weber, Jenna Lyons, Andrew Rosen, and Angela Lindvall all turned up to show their support.

“BORNFREE is a slogan that captures the need for children—babies—to begin life with a fair chance at living life. It’s the urgency of making sure that the baton passed by one generation to the next is not tainted by the poison of HIV/AIDS,” Power continued.

In order to further its cause, the organization has asked 23 female designers—all of whom are mothers—to create clothing and accessories for women and children. Von Furstenberg, Tory Burch, Victoria Beckham, Alexander McQueen’s Sarah Burton, Donna Karan, Lyons, Stella McCartney, Miuccia Prada, and Vera Wang, among others, have all signed on to participate. The wares, which will incorporate custom prints produced by Kenyan artist Wangechi Mutu, will be available for purchase on on Mother’s Day 2014. One hundred percent of the proceeds will go to BORNFREE.

“What I think is so amazing is that it’s a solution,” von Furstenberg told “It’s impossible not to help it because you know it will help,” she added before greeting the first lady of Rwanda, Jeannette Kagame.

“I think it’s an incredible thing that we should all be rallying around,” offered Liya Kebede, an Ethiopian model and BORNFREE designer. “There’s definitely a light at the end of the tunnel.”

BORNFREE CEO John Megrue announced that the initiative’s goal is to eradicate mother-to-child HIV/AIDS transmission by December 31, 2015. Later, the organization’s focus will move to finding a global HIV/AIDS solution. “I think you need to find industries that have a huge megaphone in order to inspire people—both the public and the people in Washington,” Megrue told us. “And when you have this group of designers standing up saying this is really important, in a reasonable period of time, all the influencers, all the key opinion leaders, will listen.”

Photo: Billy Farrell/

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