Long Island’s Susan Lucci had walked this runway before, but Thursday when she strutted her stuff for The American Heart Association's annual Red Dress Collection, the cause was a little more personal.
The day before the fashion show, the longtime soap opera actress revealed on social media that she had undergone heart surgery in October after developing a "90% blockage" in her heart's main artery," and "narrowly missing a severe heart attack," she wrote on Instagram.
Lucci -- along with fellow celebrities including WWE superstars Nikki and Brie Bella, “Riverdale” actress Ashleigh Murray, former co-host of "The View" Sherri Sheperd and many more -- strutted down the runway in her red-dress best in support of the AHA's Go Red For Women initiative, which aims to increase awareness of heart disease in women. According to the AHA, it's the No. 1 killer of women, causing one in three deaths each year.
Padma Lakshmi, host and executive producer of Bravo’s “Top Chef," hosted this year's Red Dress Collection, which celebrated its 15th anniversary Thursday at Manhattan's Hammerstein Ballroom.
Longtime “All My Children” star Lucci, 72, who grew up in Garden City and still resides there today, said at Thursday's event that she works out nearly seven days a week and commits to a Mediterranean diet, which primarily includes plant-based foods and heart-healthy fats.
“The doctor said I was doing everything right he couldn’t tell me to alter my diet or my exercise,” she said.
Lucci said the cause of her near-heart attack was DNA related, recalling on the red carpet that her dad suffered a similar fate in his late 40s. But as he was a smoker and Lucci isn't, she never thought it could happen to her.
“The main thing is that what I’m doing now is just trying to let other women know my story because I was lucky, so lucky," she said. "And I was lucky partly because I heard one woman many years ago say what [the] symptoms were.”
Other celebrities modeling for the cause included recently-engaged “Law and Order” actress Elizabeth Rohm who was attending for the third time. For Rohm, too, the issue is close: She lost her mother to a heart attack nine years ago.
“It’s always for me very simple,” she said of returning to participate in the show. “I’m celebrating my mom’s memory, honoring her memory, so it’s something very meaningful to me to be a part of.”
More stars who suited up: actresses Rosanna Arquette (who just this week was added to the cast of the upcoming Netflix series "Ratched"), Nicole Ari Parker (“Empire”) and Nathalie Kelley (“Dynasty”), as well as Olympic gymnast Laurie Hernandez; "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" cast member Dorit Kemsley and many more.
The New York Fashion Week kickoff event also aims to empower women -- and not just when it comes to health.
Arquette, who walked the runway in a stunning red laced dress and a matching decorative headpiece, said she partipcated in honor of a loved one she lost to heart disease. The actress was also one of the first of dozens of women to publicly speak out with allegations former film mogul Harvey Weinstein -- a move that helped catapult Tarana Burke’s #MeToo movement to not only Hollywood, but across the world, opening conversation about sexual harassment and assault, and sparking change.
Arquette reiterated Thursday that the effect on her career after coming forward with her story in 2017 wasn't a positive one.
“Suddenly just after the incident things just dramatically shifted in a way that didn’t really make sense for where I was at,” Arquette said. “But everything happens for a reason and all of this may have happened to come to light and get to the other side of this [because] women being able to speak their truth is so important.”
As for “Ratched,” the new Netflix show she’ll appear in -- which sees "American Horror Story" producer Ryan Murphy and actress Sarah Paulson team up to produce -- Arquette couldn’t say much other than share her excitement to work alongside them.
“I can’t say anything because not even I really know what’s going on [but] when Ryan Murphy calls, you say yes.”
Instagram influencer and model Jordyn Wood, a big proponent of body positivity, was one of the younger celebrities to walk the runway. Her activewear brand SECNDNTURE (pronounced second nature) that debuted last summer promotes what Wood calls "size inclusivity," a term she opts for instead of "plus size."
“I feel like there’s no reason to put categories on people whether it’s plus size or stick skinny or tall or short, I mean we’re all just human beings," Woods said Thursday.
“Riverdale” actress Ashleigh Murray also talked about body positivity while getting ready to hit the red carpet.
“I wish body positivity also brought in the health aspect that whatever is healthy for you, whatever size, whatever shape, whatever weight, that’s ok.”
Murray, who has had multiple immediate family members suffer from heart-related issues, said she stays on top of her health by keeping a food diary as a way to make sure she’s taking in enough nutrients while juggling a busy schedule.
She is set to star in an upcoming “Riverdale” spinoff “Katy Keene” that will be filming in New York City.