Suicide prevention and harm reduction take center stage at Break Free during NYFW

NEW YORK, NY / ACCESSWIRE / September 15, 2022 / Break Free NYFW held its second presentation on Saturday, September 10th, featuring plus size luxury designers and mental health advocates. Renee Cafaro for her RCA label Project Runway’s Helen CastilloCottagecore Designer Dynasty Georgeand luxury loungewear designer Ashley Alt for the VALT brand. All designers came together to raise awareness for suicide prevention and harm reduction and to raise funds for Break Free x 10,000 beds Scholarship fund that helps people struggling with addiction problems attend a rehabilitation center for free.

Model is Mary Lambert wearing Helen Castillo. The photo was taken by Robert Mantz.

Renee Cafaro, who spent 12 years in public service before embarking on her journey as a designer, remarked about the show and Break Free’s mission: “[it was] It is my honor to be asked to show my brand Public Label while using this platform to raise awareness. On the runway, I had runway newbies representing doctors, lawyers, and celebrities like Sean Summer Brady (who’s also training to be a therapist!) alongside seasoned stutterers like supermodel Khrystyana, all of whom had a chance to hold a sign that meant something to them Calling out important things that they feel we need to “break free” of.

“I thought it would be a unique opportunity to use this stage that was given to me to shed a light on all of our issues, including my own, from CPTSD to invisible disabilities to dealing with myriad stigmas. It was liberating to spend the day speaking openly about my struggles without judgment in this room and learning that we’re not alone.”

Break Free is the brainchild of Alexandra Nymannthe creative director of LadyCat and editor-in-chief of sobriety. A highlight of the event was the double platinum recording artist, Mary Lambert, surprised the crowd with an acapella performance before speaking about the importance of suicide prevention and managing your mental health. Her speech brought tears to many attendees as they felt her passion for the movement. Lambert also spoke about her years as an LGBTQIA+ and mental health activist.

Other speakers of the evening included Jean Krislethe founder of 10,000 Beds, and Bershan Shaw from the Real Housewives of New York, founder of new mental health app URAWARRIOR, Bershan fueled the crowd and led them into a chant of empowerment, calling on everyone in attendance to declare that they are a warrior and their struggles being able to overcome with a strong support system and practicing self-care.

“The fashion industry has long influenced how society lives, dresses and acts,” commented Jean Krisle, founder of 10,000 Beds, in her moving speech to the almost 250 attendees: “We are honored to be part of the discussion about this on how the fashion industry can raise awareness of mental health and recovery – not just within its ranks – but in society at large.”

Break Free NYFW, LLC, Thursday, September 15, 2022, press release image
Recovery Attorney Erin Ranta carries Helen Castillo. Photo by Robert Mantz.

Krisle presented a new grant offer for active service members and veterans in memory of Sergeant Tyler, who took his own life in March of this year. His sister Kelsey and mother Lauren spoke of Tyler’s love for everyone, his support for mental health awareness and his love of expressing joy through fashion.

Kelsey Zephyr premiered her “Multiplicity” collection under the Zephyr name during the Break Free Designer Show in February. Zephyr is the first fashion designer to openly live with dissociative identity disorder and serves on the board of the Break Free Foundation as peer advocacy leader.

Due to health concerns, Zephyr conducted her NYFW premiere virtually. This September, Zephyr was able to attend Break Free in person. Standing in front of the showcase attendees, she shared: “I poured my own mental health journey into my collection which was shown in February and a month later I lost my brother. It was during that time that it became incredibly important to come here personally, not just for me but for my brother.”

After Zephyr poured out her heart to everyone who attended Break Free, Sara Taki, MDthe medical director of Greenwich house, delivered a moving and powerful speech about the importance of harm reduction and removing the stigma for people suffering from a substance use disorder. Taki closed the show and encouraged attendees to visit the Greenwich House table for a brief training session on naloxone use, handing out naloxone kits, and educating attendees on the use of fentanyl test strips. All of their naloxone kits and test strips that Greenwich House had were distributed, and they were greeted with a flood of support.

At the event, Sara Taki, MD noted that “It was an honor to speak with advocates for addiction and mental health care from the fashion world. Naloxone and fentanyl test strips save lives. saves lives. Break Free and all organizations involved in this event are doing life-saving work by breaking stigma and educating the world on effective interventions to stem the tide of opioid overdose deaths.”

The event was welcomed by many prominent members of both the sober and mental health community, including the event’s main sponsor, Greenwich House, a settlement home and provider of opioid/substance use and mental health treatment serving NYC, and Oasis, a sober dating App , URAWARRIOR, New York Makeup Academy, RCA Public Label, Fever Tree, Ghia, Liquid Death, Sober Vibes, Soberocity, Reva Recovery, Chez Les Mannequins, the Release Recovery Foundation, Front Society, NAMI NYC, AFSP and Shatterproof.

The iconic vibe curator made an appearance on the runway freak frequencywho was still at the peak of her Tiny Desk concert with NPR, and a prolific singer-songwriter Alexander Simone.

The show was also welcomed by many influencers who attended the show, including breast cancer survivors, Christine Handy who went for VALT and Dynasty GeorgeAmerica’s Next Top Model runner-up and Ukrainian model Khrystyana Kazakova who closed the RCA Public Label show in a yellow and blue piece to raise awareness of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, and trans rights activist Sean Summer Brady.

Break Free will be holding its third designer show on Saturday, February 11th in NYC. Tickets are available on

Follow Break Free NYFW online:
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Media contact:

Name of the company: Break Free NYFW
Interlocutor: Alexandra Nymann
E-mail: [email protected]


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