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all photos: Kimberly Cadena all words: Svetlana

+++++for more actual info on “fashion for paws”/to get involved click here+++++

In the years past, we’ve always covered FASHION FOR PAWS from “an angle”. This year, our angle was to be that we had no angle. Maybe we got older, maybe we actually like sitting at tables and drinking cognac, maybe the puppy love finally won us over, but Kimberly and I put some party dresses on, and stepped bravely and non-ironically into the land of exceptionally well groomed animals and almost as well groomed people who love them. Take a deep breath everyone:

For the uninitiated, FASHION FOR PAWS, now in it’s 5th reiteration is the biggest fundraiser for Washington Humane Society, since, well, ever. In the years past it has grown and grown and GROWN and 2011 finds it a big, bad, glitzy, “puppies and tiaras” affair that raised half a million dollars and attracted almost 2000 people to the National Building Museum.


Obviously, the people behind F4P (led by Tara De Nicolas) know what they’re doing, they’re good at what they’re doing and well, they’re pretty much unstoppable, in my opinion. The concept is simple: you raise money and if you reach a certain quota you and your puppy friend get to walk the big, shiny, very well lit runway show. It works on several levels:

  • it appeals to people’s love for animals (which is never, ever to be underestimated)
  • it appeals to people’s competitive spirit (which is never, ever to be underestimated in a city built on competitiveness and networking)
  • and it appeals to people’s inner beauty queen (which is never, ever to be underestimated in a city where you’re supposed to be competitive about everything but your looks)

and, as such, is pure genius (each model has to raise a minimum of $3,000 but some raised upwards of $20,000 – recession, schmecession). It is also, probably, the highest density photographed event of the year in DC. You think a BYT event has a lot of photographers at it? You come to Fashion For Paws and then we’ll talk. It’s not a dog eat dog world, more of a photographer eat photographer battle royale.


It is also important to note that the event is produced in a way that is quite astounding and super pro to the max (all the production value was donated, natch, by SYZYGY productions, and hats off to them). There were: glowing cherry blossom tree installations throughout, floral arrangements shaped like giant puppy treats and fire hydrants (geddit?), and the whole room (which is a big, intimidating room as we all know) was aglow in warm pink tones making us feel like flatteringly lit princesses that we’re normally not.


They even brought in a “celebrity” host (the fashion guy from Entertainment tonight (or something to that effect) who I never saw before in my life but can appreciate his appeal to the general TV viewing public (aka “those who don’t just watch AMC and BRAVO cooking shows ad nausem” like me) who joined Pamela Sorensen and was a total pro and obviously knew his way around the charity fashion show rodeo.


(that bone sculpture looks weird from this angle-ed)

Now, the show itself was opened by 5 dresses done in collaboration between FIDM and vitaminwater zero (who is a major sponsor as well) with further proof of the perfect sponsor/event synergy that this night was. What followed them was a slew of regular folks and DC solid third tier local celebrities (REAL HOUSEWIVES! PEOPLE WHO WISH THEY WERE REAL HOUSEWIVES! PUPPIES OF REAL HOUSEWIVES!) who, truth be told, seemed to be having a grand ole time on the runway (the puppies did look a little scared but I’m sure they took it out on the floral fire hydrants in the back) to a crowd cheering them on in a rare moment of DC not overthinking anything.

As I mentioned before, half a million dollars was raised in one night and while part of me wishes this money was for causes I personally may find more pressing (Japan disaster relief? AIDS babies? Child Hunger?…) you have to give it to the Fashion for Paws folks for well, all of this.

Now, enjoy the photos courtesy of the always lovely and dedicated Kimberly Cadena:

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