Saturday night marked the Washington Humane Society‘s (WHS) seventh annual Fashion for Paws Runway Show, held at the National Building Museum in downtown DC and sponsored by Tysons Galleria. The culmination of two months of fundraising efforts by individual models, and with more than 1,700 attendees, the show raised nearly $700,000 to support WHS, which helped nearly 30,000 homeless, abused and neglected animals in 2012 alone. The fundraising models trotted their favorite canines down the runway in Spring 2013 fashion, and DC area pets sent their humans out to support them.
Tradition dictates that each year, Fashion for Paws changes the style and layout of the show; this year, decorations lining the catwalk were minimal, giving guests an unimpeded view of the models, and the “T” shaped runway allowed for a full 360 degree view of the show participants, a noticeable improvement from last year’s “I” shaped catwalk. Event organizers also improved the parking situation from the previous year’s experience with additional valets, which seemed to help minimize the after-party congestion so frequent to most large scale Washington events. Finally, there were more tables for sale this this year, ranging from $3,000 to $10,000.
Congressmen Jim Moran (D-VA) and John Campbell (R-CA) were honored with the 2013 Humane Hero Award, in recognition for their contributions in sponsoring and passing legislation to help animal welfare at the national level. The hosts also recognized the top three fundraisers: Ashley Gallagher, Melinda Griffith and Susan Ostrowski. Susan, who walked the runway with her eight-year-old West Highland White Terrier, Lily Bay, received the Model Washingtonian of the Year Award after independently raising $37,743 and in her third year as a model.
E! News correspondent and event host Ashlan Gorse, wearing a Karen Millen dress, walked down the runway with her fiancé, local Washingtonian and CNN International’s Philippe Cousteau, Jr., who modeled menswear brand Sarar. Master of Ceremonies Pamela Sorensen and Tara de Nicolas, Executive Director for Fashion for Paws, acted as Ashlan’s cohosts. Local media celebrities Angie Goff, Steve Chenevey, Scott Thuman, and Tommy McFly rocked the runway in Lilly Pulitzer, Jos. A. Bank, Sarar and Intermix, respectively. Other fashion retailers featured in the show included Nicole Miller, Ann Taylor, Basler and Aram.
Toka Salon & Day Spa provided the models’ hair and makeup runway looks, while local doggie daycare provider and groomer Wagtime arranged outfits for the four-legged models, including dresses and tutus for the ladies and vests with the occasional bowtie for the gentlemen.
WHS alum Frank led his human, top three fundraiser Ashley Gallagher, down the catwalk to start the show, charming guests with his winsome smile as though he knew they were there to support his cause; Frank became even more excited as he interacted with the front row audience, as did most of the dogs who followed him. However, the catwalk is not for everyone, and one especially tough-looking English bulldog experienced stage fright as he began his circuit, digging in his front paws and making obvious his reluctance to proceed, much to the delight of audience members, who labeled the bone-a fide faux paw the cutest mishap of the night.
Through it all, Washington favorite, DJ Seyhan had guests tapping their feet to his one-of-a-kind beats, wrapping up his set after midnight; festivities continued into the wee hours, with after parties hosted at Fujimar and George. Finally, because every story needs a happy ending, WHS volunteers helped find forever homes for three of their pups who attended the event wearing “Adopt Me” vests: Jack Russell terrier Gracie, spaniel mix Chewy and Captain Earhart, a Perro de Presa Canario mix.