Forever 25: White House Black Market’s Enduring Gift
In 2010, White House Black Market decided to celebrate its 25th anniversary by featuring the stories of 25 women affected by breast cancer. The brand managers turned to LBBC to select the candidates. Some of us were newly diagnosed, some had completed early-stage treatment, and others were living with metastatic breast cancer. All of us were thrilled to have won a free trip to New York City at the end of June.
In a loft complete with a patio overlooking the Hudson River, we selected White House Black Market wardrobe, had our hair and makeup professionally done, and starred in our own personal photo shoots. In a separate studio, we sat on a sofa and told our stories for videos that were posted to the White House Black Market website. A collage of the black and white photographs appeared in White House Black Market stores and in magazine ads. We even had a group cameo on the CBS Early Show.
“On our 25th anniversary, we honor 25 women who inspire us most,” the brand declared.
In the years since, our group has gathered at the LBBC Butterfly Ball to celebrate the year’s honorees. We organize a “Forever 25” team at LBBC’s Reach & Raise yoga event in May to raise funds to help others find information and connect to their own community of support. We hug each other and shed tears remembering those from our group who are no longer with us. Sadly, our original group of 25 is now just 21, but we’ll never forget the joy and optimism that they expressed alongside us on those 2 unforgettable days in the Big Apple.
Looking back on it, I wonder how White House Black Market achieved this feat, shining a light on what made us most attractive, just when many of us felt the most uncomfortable in our bodies.
At a time when we felt the most isolated, they brought us together and showed us how to connect to others across the country on similar journeys.
And when we felt most afraid of what might lie ahead, they created a cohort of 25 sisters who share a special bond of support that endures to this day.
How did they know?
As LBBC marks 15 years of an extraordinary partnership with Chico’s and its brands White House Black Market and Soma, I asked a few of my fellow “Forever 25” sisters to look back and offer what the experience meant to them and how the clothes and shopping experience continue to be a meaningful part of their lives.
Valerie Miller, Philadelphia
I’ll never forget the day of the photo shoot, which took place in a beautiful loft space in the Meatpacking district. The photo shoot itself, of course, was an incredible experience, far from a typical day for this finance-industry gal. Its significance was so much more to me at the time, as I was going back and forth from Philadelphia to New York City on a near-daily basis to visit with my mother, who was recovering from an extremely intense surgery to treat her very aggressive colon cancer. The photo shoot and subsequent magazine layout and in-store ads were a bright spot for my family, and especially my mother, during those very difficult days.
Four years ago, I married the love of my life, but my mother, a breast cancer survivor, had succumbed to her colon cancer several years before we met. Therefore, I knew I needed to include memories of her in every detail of our wedding so that I could feel her presence.
Our rehearsal dinner was your traditional event the evening before the wedding, and so I chose to wear a traditional white dress for my rehearsal dinner as well. Where else to begin my search than White House Black Market? I ordered a few styles from the website and hoped that one would fit the criteria: not too fancy, not too casual, but that fit my style, personality, and the occasion. I was so pleased that one of them worked perfectly – a strapless fit and flare (my favorite style) that had an embossed design with a pretty little belt at the waist to complete the look. The White House Black Market dress, however, had more significance than just its color.
I smile knowing my mother would have loved my husband, and that she would have approved of how we chose to remember her in so many special ways, that day, and every day.
Linda Kish, Philadelphia
I absolutely enjoyed the 15 minutes — and then some — of fame that White House Black Market made possible for me. Friends and family in Colorado, California, Texas, and Florida were overwhelmed by the beautiful photos displayed at various stores.
Since then, I remember attending the Butterfly Ball with all of my Forever 25 lovelies. The White House Black Market staff was so wonderful when they outfitted me for the gala. For several years I shopped at the store in Ardmore, Pennsylvania. They were consistently friendly and helpful with my business wardrobe. I often mentioned the Forever 25 and that always opened a lively and lovely dialogue. I shopped at Chico's several times, as it was next door. Staff was just as accommodating and I broke out from black and white to more earth tones. Since retirement, I no longer need business attire but I still have items from both stores, which speaks well for their quality.
I have worn my selection of skinny White House Black Market jeans in Spain, Italy, and various U.S. cities. They all led to good travel memories and feeling the love and hope that the White House Black Market provided.
Denise McCrossin, Havertown, Pennsylvania
The Forever 25 photo shoot certainly is a memory I will carry in my heart forever. The women I met through that experience are very special to me and I feel it created a very special bond. It was great to connect with other women who understood this “thing” called breast cancer and how it has affected all of us.
Since then, I’ve gravitated to Chico’s for my fashion choices. I love Chico’s! The clothes are youthful looking and the prices and sales are fantastic. Life is good. I have since made it to a milestone age of 65 (!) and have been blessed with four grandchildren. Thank you again for the opportunity to be connected with the groups associated with White House Black Market and Chico’s. It really was a fabulous experience.
Denise Portner is from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and is a former LBBC board member.