Celebrities Rally for Auction to Raise Awareness for IVF (Exclusive)
Octavia Spencer, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Busy Phillips are among those to take part in the #TearTheLabel campaign, which aims to fight against negative discussions surrounding assisted reproduction.
Celebrities, including Elton John and Glee producer Ryan Murphy, weren’t shy about admonishing Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana for their inflammatory comments about "synthetic children" and same-sex parenting two weeks ago. But amid calls for a boycott of the designers, one campaign is putting a positive spin on the whole controversy by "taking harsh words and turning them into something powerful by using it as an opportunity to raise awareness and bring to light the issue of IVF," says Todd Hawkins, of LA’s social innovation agency Hawkins Mikita, to Pret-a-Reporter exclusively.
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On Tuesday, at 9 a.m., he and business partner Justin Mikita — whose husband is Modern Family’s Jesse Tyler Ferguson — launched #TearTheLabel with an auction of designer pieces donated by celebrities including Ferguson, Cynthia Nixon, Busy Phillips and Octavia Spencer. All proceeds will go to Baby Quest Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides financial assistance via grants to those who cannot afford IVF or assisted reproduction procedures — regardless of their relationship status or sexual preference. (For perspective, the average IVF procedure costs $12,000.)
"We’re moving away from the negative connotation of [these words] and instead raising awareness and educating our community and the world about why families do it and how we can support and get behind them," says Hawkins of his and Mikita’s initial response to the quotes. Immediately they began forming a plan to create a campaign that would be both positive and beneficial. "We saw a lot of celebrities making comments about what [Dolce and Gabbana] said — they’ve spoken out not just because they’re upset about what was said but because of the power of those words and the affect they have on people they know, or themselves or their families."
Hawkins points out that many celebrities have personally gone through these procedures and are in the position to afford them, whereas many individuals are not. “Our firm has a great network with celebrities, so we went to our friends, supporters and ambassadors to say, ‘Hey, this is what we’re going to do, what do you think about jumping on board?’and so many said 'Yes, count me in. I’m so supportive of this and I want to be helpful and do whatever I can to raise awareness,'" Hawkins says.
Auction items include signature Dolce & Gabbana suits donated by Ferguson and Dan Bucatinsky, personal limited-edition designs belonging to Isaac Mizrahi, pieces from Octavia Spencer and a dinner with famed chef Art Smith.
As for the name, #TearTheLabel has a double meaning. "It’s about tearing the label by supporting the notion of diverse families and moving away from the traditional sense of what a family has to be,” Hawkins says. In addition it refers to "tearing the labels of our designer duds and turning them into or using them for something better."
For more info, visit tearthelabel.com.