When Lisa Meurgue walks in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer with her daughter Alexandra this October, more than just the two of them will be there. They will also be carrying the good wishes, and donations, from more than 100 ladies who came out to Bistro Soleil to support the cause.
Meurgue owns Bistro Soleil, at the Olde Marco Inn, with her husband Denis, and the restaurant hosted the Fashion Show benefitting the Avon Walk cancer-fighting organization on Friday.
“It’s life-changing,” she said, of being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008, undergoing all the treatment, and finally being declared cancer free. “After going through this, you see things differently. It makes you much more appreciative of things and all that people do to help you. You learn to look for blessings in disguise.”
One blessing Meurgue found early on was her friend Joyce McFarland, co-owner of the Marco Island Clothing Co.
“She’s the one who came to me and said, ‘Let’s do a fashion show,’ and raise money to fight this,” said Meurgue of McFarland.
“I told Lisa all I knew how to do was fashion,” said McFarland. “I just wanted to help her out.”
For the show, McFarland provided all the clothing, plus shoes and accessories, from her apparel store.
“Ladies, we can cover you from top to bottom,” she said. “We can accommodate all styles.” The price range, said McFarland, was “better to moderate,” from $100 to the mid-$200 range.
Of the eight models, three, Mary Ann Pierson, Joanne Blau and Jean King, are themselves breast cancer survivors. Each model, and they ranged in age from the 20s to the 80s, came out first in sporty, resort apparel, including some swimsuits, and then changed while the guests ate lunch.
Even though Meurgue said they were going meatless for Lent, she did put her best food forward, catering her own fashion show. After champagne and hors d’oeuvres of homemade smoked salmon, baked Brie and bruschetta, the guests enjoyed spinach and Parmesan quiche with a salad of field greens, and a crispy apple tart tatin for dessert.
FOX-4 news anchor Patrick Nolan handled the emcee duties for the event, keeping the audience laughing with his good-natured banter. He confessed to referring to the restaurant as “Bistro Sol-eel” on the air, which he termed “the Fort Myers pronunciation,” and had fun with his attempts at communicating the esoterica of women’s fashion.
After lunch, the models returned in slightly more formal attire, for a segment entitled “It’s All About the Dress.” Was the bodice “shirred” or “sheered?” Was it a “surplice” neckline, or was it truly “surplus?” Whatever. The models strolled through the room, the outfits were appreciated and commented on, and money was raised for a good cause.
The ladies declared Nolan was even better looking in person than on television, and he proved a good sport as well, demonstrating the Gator Chomp for one fan, and trying his best to deliver a raffle prize to anyone at the head table. Prizes included five substantial floral arrangements donated by the Calusa Garden Club, and gift certificates from Arturo’s, Rick’s Island Salon and Salon Botanica, as well as two from Café de Marco, both won by Linda Boston.
No one at the head table won anything.
Meurgue told the group the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer has become a family tradition, since she was introduced to the organization by her daughter Margaux, who was working in the Los Angeles office. The marathon-length 26.2-mile walk covers Manhattan from the Upper West side, to Greenwich Village, Chinatown, Central Park, and the Brooklyn Bridge. She plans to do it again with her youngest daughter when she turns 16, said Meurgue.
Cementing his good-guy reputation, Nolan volunteered to carry one woman’s bouquet out to her car for her, and then got caught holding the door for dozens of ladies as they streamed out after the affair.
They did not yet have a final tally, but expect to raise more than $3,000 from the fashion show, said Meurgue.
To support the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, a 501(c)3 registered charity, contact Meurgue at Bistro Soleil, or go online to www.avonwalk.org.