On a mildly chilly Tuesday evening in New York City, Tony award-winning actress Glenn Close is standing atop a footwear display table in the Christian Louboutin store on Madison Avenue.
In grand style, the actress — who returned to Broadway this spring to reprise her role as Norma Desmond in “Sunset Boulevard” — is giving a toast to designer Christian Louboutin and a few dozen guests who showed up at the store to support Close’s nonprofit organization Bring Change 2 Mind (BC2M).
After Close’s sister and nephew were diagnosed with mental illnesses — bipolar and schizoaffective disorder, respectively — Close and her family co-founded BC2M in 2010 to raise awareness and understanding about mental illness.
“We’re all probably here tonight because of family — I know I am,” Close said as she raised a glass of sparkling water. “The greatest human rights issue in the world right now is [not] allowing people with mental illness to be fully part of our society and having a culture and a society where we could talk about it and embrace them.”
Inspired by Close’s character in “Sunset Boulevard,” Louboutin — who playfully hopped atop the table to join the actress during her toast Tuesday night — designed a limited-edition shoe, dubbed the “Marchevekel.” The designer unveiled the style — a sandal constructed in noir velvet and adorned with a mix of jet crystals on the heel — at the event, which benefited Close’s charity.
“It’s important to participate in things that people give their heart to,” Louboutin said. “And [Close] is very involved personally [with this charity] due to her own family. She knows what she’s talking about, so it’s not just a cause — it’s actually something that she knows how to speak about because she’s been touched directly in her own [family].”
He added, “She’s the best person to speak about this because she has been living through it.”
Donning the “Marchevekel” heel with a white ruffled-neck blouse and a black velvet floor-length coat, Close ended her toast by reminding attendees of the need to destigmatize mental illness.
“[Mental illness] is deep in the human condition: It doesn’t make you unusual, it makes you human,” she said.