Soledad O'Brien On Walking the Runway for Heart Truth, Her Polyester-Filled Past, and More!

(Courtesy of Getty Images)

New York Fashion Week kicked off with the only show that has more celebrities on the runway than in the front row — Heart Truth's Red Dress event, where stars channel their inner models to raise awareness for heart disease. We caught up with one of Heart Truth's celebrity models — broadcast journalist Soledad O'Brien — to talk about the organization's mission, her on-camera style, and her polyester-filled fashion past as a teenager in '80s Long Island. 

Tell us about the dress you wore last night.

It’s gorgeous! It's a crepe off the shoulder gown created by Black Halo Eve.  It's called the Martinez gown, and the slit is conveniently zippered — I can be risque on the runway!  The husband and wife team behind Black Halo Eve are huge supporters of women's health, and like me, they worry that heart health is under-reported and under promoted.  To me, their gorgeous Red Dress is an amazing symbol of an important issue for women: their heart health.  Women often put the needs of others before their own needs — I have four kids so I know how that can happen!  The red dress is a reminder — focus on your heart health!

(Courtesy of Getty Images) 

You're obviously comfortable in front of the camera, but how does it feel to go from reporting to walking the runway? How does it feel to have the spotlight on you in that particular way? 
 
I am a little nervous, not about walking the runway, but about tripping in 4-inch heels!  I've been assured, that with practice, I would be able to make it look like second nature!  I love being in the (literal) spotlight for such an important issue. Many women are completely unaware of their risk for heart disease and heart attacks. Many women cannot recognize the signs of a heart attack, in spite of the fact that heart disease kills so many women every year.  If walking down the runway in a hot red dress helps bring attention to this critical issue in women's health, I’m honored to take part!

What is your earliest fashion memory? What did you love to wear the most, as a child? 

As a kid my mom loved Danskin — pants and shirts! One hundred percent polyester and impossible to destroy!  I had a lots of hand me downs for my three older sisters.  i discovered fashion as a pre-teen--in the late 70's/ early 80's.  Ala Madonna I ruined many a sweatshirt cutting the neck and arms off!  I owned a million fluorescent plastic bangles.  Some of my fashion choices were fierce. Some: I would like to burn the pictures!

You come from such a big family, did you do anything to distinguish yourself, fashion-wise? 

The past few years, I've really gotten into fashion as a form of self-expression. I still need to be comfortable, but I love great, tactile fabrics and a great fit.  I love high high heel shoes, and I love sexy dresses.

What was your style like in high school? Do you have any fashion regrets? Any memorable hairstyles? 

I went to high school in Long Island in the 80's — need I say more?  And I was nerdy in high school, so I had a nerdy style. My mother killed my nascent fashion attempts by refusing to pay for designer jeans! 
  
I had lots of memorable hair styles. I have naturally very poufy hair.  The flat iron had not yet become a household item!  Much of my high school years are a regret.  And seriously, the 80’s Gaucho look should not be revived. Ever.

What do you like to wear on camera? Has your on-camera style carried over into your everyday style?
  
On TV I tend to wear bright colors — it's early and black just doesn't break through.  Great  fit is important:  I want to concentrate on my interviews — not a sweater that's riding up!

My TV-wardrobe is nothing like my real-life wardrobe. I wear black and mostly jeans when I am not on TV. I have four kids! I basically run around all day!
I'm the Senior Associate Editor at StyleBistro. Follow me: Google
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