Susan Poorman Blackie's scarves were much more than mere accessories. After the Houston businesswoman, philanthropist and mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, she was known to wear her favorite scarves in treatment, both as a show of strength and as a way to maintain color and style in her life. Blackie passed away from the disease in 2014, but her story and the non-profit she founded, the Susan Poorman Blackie Ovarian Cancer Foundation, continue to help and inspire others through education and research.
Among them is Anna Wilson, the CEO and founder of the Houston-based scarf line Manoosh. A year ago, as she was launching the brand, Wilson was introduced to Blackie's son and the foundation, finding in them natural partners for outreach and a way for her company to make a difference.
After over a year of collaboration, the final result is the Susan Scarf, a stunning teal design from Manoosh's Fall 2015 collection created to raise awareness about ovarian cancer.
"It's so great what these movements have done for breast cancer," says Wilson. "Thirty years ago people didn’t know what preventative measures to take, now there's more awareness of what to look for and hopefully help doctors catch it earlier, and the survival rate is so much better. That’s where ovarian cancer needs to be."
Wilson worked closely with Blackie's son and others at the foundation to design a scarf that would support survivors on several levels, choosing a silk modal blend that would be light enough to wear over their hair in the summer and still solid enough to use as a wrap when suffering from hot or cold flashes or when dealing with a cranked-up hospital a/c while undergoing treatment.
All of Manoosh's scarves are created from original abstract paintings by Houston artist Marilyn Biles, so many of them flow dreamily between colors. For the Susan scarf, however, Wilson and her partners dug through Biles' archive, looking for a piece that not only prominently featured teal, the color of ovarian cancer, but also something that manifested strength through "harder lines and bright colors."
Manoosh is celebrating the launch of the Susan Scarf with an event Wednesday evening from 5:30 to 7:30 at Tootsies, hosted by ovarian cancer survivor Megan Silianoff, who will also be signing copies of her book about her struggle with the disease. In addition to the full fall 2015 line of Manoosh scarves, the event will feature a build-your-own jewelry station by Agate Ranch, featuring plenty of teal and turquoise stones, plus live fashion sketches by Rongrong Devoe and bites from B&B Butchers.
During the Susan Scarf event, a portion of all sales will to go the Susan Poorman Blackie Ovarian Cancer Foundation. The Susan Scarf sells for $130, and 100 percent of the proceeds from its sale (at any time) will be donated to the foundation.
"We hope with an event like this more people will know about the scarf and what it's for, but it's also a beautiful scarf," says Wilson.