Denman Masthead

Making the invisible visible

HerCanberra Team

It’s the number one killer of Australian women, with one female dying every hour of every day.

If you had to guess what disease we’re talking about, would you get the answer correct? It’s heart disease.

Heart disease is often called an invisible disease. It’s not always obvious and the risks often missed, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, weight and lifestyle risk factors. And for women who survived childhood heart conditions, becoming pregnant—the ultimate stress test for the body—can be highly problematic.

The many issues surrounding heart disease in women are complex and the disease is often described as “underdiagnosed, under treated and under researched,” says Ann Ronning, Fundraising Manager, Heart Foundation ACT.

“Raising funds is key, which is why we’re hosting the WomensHearts Fashion High Tea event at the National Gallery of Australia,” says Ann. “We’ll also help make the invisible visible by raising knowledge of the warning signs and symptoms of heart attacks in women.”

womens hearts

Christine Lloyd

Organisers of the Heart Foundation ACT settled on a fashion show as a heartfelt way to draw attention to this very serious issue. “After all, fashion can be a passion of the heart,” says Ann.

Christine Lloyd, a co-founder of CARDIF Collective, was drawn to help in part from personal experience. “My mother suffers from heart disease,” says Christine, who will speak of her direct experience. “I know first-hand how it affects the person suffering and those around them. In fact, both my parents suffered serious heart disease episodes. Thankfully they were treated, but it was a wake-up call that you need to be aware of the risk factors and that you should never put off having a heart check.”

womens hearts

CARDIF stands for Canberra and Region Designers in Fashion. The one-of-a-kind collective, upstairs in the Cusack Centre, Green Square, Kingston, provides affordable studios for fashion designers wanting a dedicated place to work, be inspired, share, learn and connect. It also operates a large retail space, offering the largest collection of local fashion labels in Canberra.

Christine and a range of supporters—including hair stylist Craig Rhodes from A Flick of Hairs, choreographer Kate Ticehurst from Subsdance, make-up artist Kellie-Sue Baker and Victoria’s Models, will present a fashion show with red as a thread.

A surprise sneak-peek of pieces from Minimum, Christine’s new label which she will launch later this year, will be seen on the catwalk for the first time. Other designers who retail at CARDIF will also reveal designs not seen on a catwalk before, including Zilpah Tart and Elle Hopwood, a new retail label for the collective.

Victoria’s Models is behind the event, as they are behind many charity fundraisers says owner Victoria Schnabl. And Mix 106.3 breakfast presenter, Kristen Henry, will model a custom-make, elegant long dress by designer Yumi Morrissey of Zilpah Tart.


It’s hard to know exactly how many women live in the ACT with a heart problem. Those that do have emotional stories to tell, like Kristy Buchanan of Duffy.

Kristy was born with Transposition of the Great Arteries (TGA) and Muscular Ventricular Septal Defect. Sounds scary, doesn’t it?

Kristy had major surgery before she was 16 that left her with a scar that ran down her chest. She had an episode when at a week-long camp for teens on the South Coast but the medical system never did explain why she suddenly felt ill, light-headed and dizzy. Some years later, when she fell pregnant with her second child, she experienced the same type of episode and discovered she had Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation. The cardiologist said her heart had become weak and so Kristy and her husband decided not to have more children.

Kristy Buchanan

Kristy Buchanan

“As I get older, my scar fades, but my heart increasingly reminds me of its condition. I can no longer push myself like I used to,” says Kristy. “I am different. I am a TGA survivor.”

It is stories like Kristy’s that made special WomensHearts guest, Andrea Hutchinson, herself a young mum and co-founder of HAUS Models, want to talk at the high tea about how important it is to raise awareness and save lives. “I was shocked to learn about the high rate of heart disease in women. I would never want my children to be without a mother,” says Andrea.

the essentials

What:#WomensHearts Fashion High Tea
When: Friday 17 June from 1.30pm to 3.30pm
Where: Gandel Hall, National Gallery of Australia
Tickets available at


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