Designs on a Cure

Designs on a Cure

The Wistar Institute honors designer and cancer survivor Carmen Marc Valvo with the 2012 President’s Award

From Princess Madeline of Sweden to Queen Latifah, he designs for both royalty and those who just want to feel like royalty. Carmen Marc Valvo, whose couture creations are synonymous with glamour and celebrity, is one of the most sought-after fashion designers in the world.

Carmen Marc Valvo receives the President's AwardHe is also a survivor. Diagnosed in 2003, Valvo has become an outspoken colon cancer survivor who uses the fashion runway as his platform from which to advocate for early screening for colon cancer. For this reason, he was honored with The Wistar Institute’s 2012 President’s Award.

The President’s Award recognizes a public figure who has been personally touched by cancer, and who advocates for improvements in cancer education and research. Previous honorees of The Wistar Institute’s President’s Award include U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, ABC News correspondent Sam Donaldson and “Good Morning America” co-anchor Robin Roberts.

“Carmen Marc Valvo embodies the spirit of The Wistar Institute President’s Award,” said Wistar President and CEO Russel E. Kaufman, M.D. “From his very public platform — the fashion runway — he advocates for cancer research and delivers a simple yet profound message: no one needs to die from colorectal cancer. Get screened.”

Valvo was diagnosed just shy of his 50th birthday, the recommended age to begin colon cancer screening. Sensing that something was "off” regarding his health, Valvo insisted on a colonoscopy, allowing doctors to find and successfully treat his cancer.

Valvo began his professional career as a designer for Nina Ricci in Paris, then Christian Dior. He launched his own label in 1989 and quickly established a solid reputation with his Carmen Marc Valvo Collection. With a true passion for designing eveningwear, Valvo launched Carmen Marc Valvo Couture in 1998, earning the favor of socialites and celebrities including Beyoncé, Queen Latifah, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Eva Longoria.

Valvo spoke publicly about his colon cancer for the first time in 2005, when fashion serendipity brought him together with the National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance, which was launching a colorectal cancer awareness initiative during the 2005 Spring/Summer Fashion Week in New York City. The experience helped launch Valvo into his second “career” in cancer advocacy. Today, serving as an ambassador of the Entertainment Industry Foundation, Valvo has helped raise millions of dollars for colon cancer research, and has appeared in national broadcast and print public service campaigns to encourage early screening for colon cancer.

See the video and photo gallery from the event.