Jewels, supermodel shake up fund-raiser for women's health center

She may have left her diamond-encrusted Miracle Bra at home, but there was no mistaking who the guest of honor was.

Heidi Klum, the supermodel best known for her Victoria's Secret catalog work, was the special guest at Thursday's Babes and Baubles Gala. The event, held at the Governor Hotel, was a benefit for the Center for Women's Health at Oregon Health & Science University.

The jewelry-themed 'girl's night out' included a showing of gowns from the downtown boutique Mario's as well as exquisite jewelry from Portland's Zell Bros and New York-based Mouawad Jewelers, for whom Klum has designed a small collection of gold and diamond pieces.

German-born Klum, 29, all doe eyes and cheekbones, said it made perfect sense to her that the evening theme was No Boys Allowed.

'I think it's wonderful,' she said. 'It's usually a man's world, isn't it? This is a great way to turn it around. It's also a great cause. Women need to be reminded to take care of themselves; we're used to nurturing other people.'

The sold-out event was the brainchild of Portland philanthropic leaders Arlene Schnitzer and Julie Neupert Stott. Schnitzer, who is co-chairwoman of OHSU's Campaign for Women's Health, said the idea for Babes and Baubles came about during preliminary meetings with Jake's restaurant, which provided the evening's lavish fare.

'Jake's does a men's-only evening, so we decided to do one for women only. And what goes with a women's-only event? Jewelry!' Schnitzer said.

For the 300-plus women who enjoyed the gala, it was also an excuse to cut loose with their girlfriends. The requisite little black dress joined company with tuxedos over bare skin, sky-high jeweled sandals and a top hat worn by a drop-dead blonde.

But behind the evening's nonserious mood was the understanding that there was serious work to done.

'This event draws attention to the state of affairs of women's health in Oregon, as well as what we can accomplish in coming years at the center,' said Kathleen Shelton, director of the OHSU Campaign for Women's Health.

It's a state of affairs that leaves a lot to be desired. 'Making the Grade,' a national annual report card that gauges the quality of each state's health care, ranked Oregon 21st overall, but gave the state a failing mark for the overall status of women.

'It's surprising,' Shelton said. 'I think we all assume that because the quality of life in Oregon is so superb that we assume women's health just follows along, and in most cases it doesn't.'

Shelton offered one explanation for the statewide deficiencies in care.

'It's a situation that often referred to as a fragmentation of medical care,' she said. 'When women receive care, they're often divvied-up into body parts, going from one doctor to another. This center is putting all the doctors in one place, so they can come to one place and all the resources are there.'

Joanna Cain, director of the OHSU Center for Women's Health, is optimistic about the center's short-term future.

'I think in terms of our ability to be a center for women's health, we'll be in the top five in five years,' she said.

Stand back, Ms. Cain Ñ if the Babes and Baubles gals have anything to do with it, it'll happen in four.

Contact Jill Spitznass at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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