JLD

Af­ter un­der­go­ing can­cer treat­ment, JU­LIA LOUIS-DREY­FUS is happy, healthy, and help­ing oth­ers through Saks Fifth Av­enue’s Key to the Cure cam­paign by CHRIS­TINE LEN­NON pho­tographed by PHIL POYN­TER styled by CRISTINA EHRLICH

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Ju­lia Louis-drey­fus on team­ing up with Saks Fifth Av­enue for the Key to the Cure ini­tia­tive

On set at a sprawl­ing man­sion in Hid­den Val­ley, Calif., ac­tress Ju­lia Louis-drey­fus is calm and ef­fi­cient, dish­ing out sil­ver-tongued one-lin­ers rem­i­nis­cent of her iconic char­ac­ters— Se­in­feld’s Elaine Benes and Veep’s Selina Meyer—with a twin­kle in her eye. (Case in point, when she sits down for our video in­ter­view: “We can an­swer these ques­tions a cou­ple times, right? In case I fuck them up?”)

One would never guess that Louis-drey­fus, 57, had re­cently been in the throes of a breast-can­cer di­ag­no­sis and treat­ment (in­clud­ing three rounds of chemo­ther­apy). She bravely re­vealed her con­di­tion on her so­cial-me­dia chan­nels shortly af­ter she took home a record-break­ing 11th Emmy Award in 2017: “1 in 8 women get breast can­cer,” she wrote. “To­day I’m the one.” The post also in­cluded a sub­tle lobby for univer­sal health care. She put

Veep’s pro­duc­tion on hold for the du­ra­tion of her treat­ment, and af­ter Louis-drey­fus “kicked can­cer’s ass,” she trans­formed her per­sonal tri­als into an op­por­tu­nity to do some good.

“Saks Fifth Av­enue asked if I wanted to be their Key to the Cure am­bas­sador, and it seemed like a good fit and the tim­ing worked out well,” she says. Over the past 20 years, Saks has raised more than $40 mil­lion for var­i­ous can­cer char­i­ties by sell­ing de­signer Ts and do­nat­ing the pro­ceeds. For 2018, Louis-drey­fus, Saks, and Carolina Her­rera cre­ative di­rec­tor Wes Gor­don are com­bin­ing their ef­forts to raise money for the AIRS (Al­liance in Re­con­struc­tive Surgery) Foun­da­tion, which pro­vides fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance to breast-can­cer pa­tients who can­not af­ford re­con­struc­tive surgery.

“There are plenty of women who de­cide not to get re­con­struc­tion, which is fine,” says Louis-drey­fus. “But if you want it and can’t af­ford it, that’s heart­break­ing to me. The gap between the haves and the have-nots in our coun­try—it’s a very wide di­vide right now. I’m lucky enough to be in a union where I get fab­u­lous ben­e­fits. Not ev­ery­one is so lucky.”

Pre­vi­ous Key to the Cure am­bas­sadors have in­cluded Jen­nifer Lopez and Ju­lianne Moore, but Louis-drey­fus is the first to col­lab­o­rate (with Gor­don) on the de­sign of the T-shirt, which fea­tures a bold fuch­sia and orange flo­ral graphic and is avail­able on­line at Saks this month. Though she pri­or­i­tizes com­fort and ad­mit­tedly lives in Birken­stocks and yoga pants, she is no stranger to fash­ion, and cuts an el­e­gant fig­ure on the red car­pet.

“I don’t pre­tend that I am a fash­ion de­signer, but I did have a no­tion of what the shirt should be,” says LouisDrey­fus. “Par­tic­u­larly this year, when the power of women is so cru­cial, and it’s so vi­tal to keep in place. So I thought the T-shirt should re­flect that. I wanted bold col­ors to make a bold state­ment, not nec­es­sar­ily some­thing sweet.” The pal­ette dove­tails with how she’s feel­ing at the mo­ment. The past year or so has changed her.

“I do feel dif­fer­ent, but I can’t quite ar­tic­u­late how. I’ve come out the other side of this, and I’m still not ex­actly sure how to de­fine the dif­fer­ence other than to say I’m grate­ful, of course, but it’s more than that. It’s big­ger,” she says.

Fol­low­ing the an­nounce­ment of her di­ag­no­sis, Louis-drey­fus has con­tin­ued to be more ex­pres­sive on so­cial me­dia, even of­fer­ing reg­u­lar glimpses into her home life. Her fam­ily, in­clud­ing her two grown sons, Char­lie and Henry, and her hus­band of 31 years, writer and pro­ducer Brad Hall, has been a tremen­dous source of strength. On her fi­nal day of chemo, her sons sent a video of them­selves lip-synch­ing to Michael Jack­son’s “Beat It,” pro­vid­ing proof that hu­mor in the face of ad­ver­sity is hered­i­tary. And her mar­riage to Hall, whom she started dat­ing in col­lege even be­fore they co-starred on Sat

ur­day Night Live, is myth­i­cally func­tional and happy. LouisDrey­fus can’t pin­point the magic, but it’s there.

“I don’t know how to iden­tify that ex­cept to say that you have to find some­one you re­spect and trust. I still re­ally like hang­ing out with him, and he’s been a won­der­ful fa­ther and a won­der­ful hus­band,” she says. “He’s a good man. I re­ally ad­mire him as a per­son.”

It’s hard not to no­tice that her de­meanor, while still quick and mis­chievous, has a se­ri­ous un­der­tone. Mostly, LouisDrey­fus seems like a woman who’s ea­ger to put this chap­ter be­hind her.

“I’m not some­one who likes look­ing back. I look for­ward. That’s how I op­er­ate. We’ll fin­ish an episode, and I am just ready for the next thing,” she says. “I’m al­ways just mov­ing on, you know?” n

Chanel dress. Aurélie Bi­der­mann ear­rings. De Beers rings. Roger Vivier san­dals. All pieces from Saks Fifth Av­enue. Hair: Matthew Mon­zon for Tom­lin­son Man­age­ment Group. Makeup: Karen Kawa­hara for MCH Global. Man­i­cure: Emi Kudo for Opus Beauty. Pro­duc­tion: Kelsey Stevens Pro­duc­tions.

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