On Sunday, February 22, intrepid pet-fashion lovers battled New York City snow and crowds to attend the PupScouts Inaugural Red Carpet Pre-Oscars Pawty and Fashion Show, a charity gala paying canine homage to Hollywood’s most glamorous night. A legion of formalwear-clad pooches and their parents arrived to witness dog-world stars take the stage in a fashion show, featuring outfits designed by the incomparable Ada Nieves, recreating looks worn by celebrities at past Oscars. The event, hosted by PupScouts, a scouting organization for dogs, took place at the Wyndham Garden Chinatown hotel, and benefitted the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, Yorkie911 Rescue and the No-Kill Los Angeles (NKLA) initiative of the Best Friends Animal Society.
Guests for the Oscars Pawty gathered in the 17th-floor room where the event took place, taking in sweeping views of Manhattan’s skyline while nibbling on sweet and savory treats and imbibing Prosecco. Dogs could take their pick of delectable peanut butter-flavored biscuits and other artisanal treats, an opportunity most could not resist. After the refreshments, pooches looking to add a final touch of glamour to their ensembles ambled over to the manicurist PupScouts had on hand to get their claws trimmed and painted. Given the number of dogs lining the red carpet sporting red- and pink-tipped digits, it looked like many took advantage of this offering.
Owing to the New York City Chinese Lunar New Year Parade underway a few blocks from the hotel, it took many guests and show participants extra time to get to the venue, delaying the fashion show. On-time guests, however, took this in stride, as it gave them more time to display their dogs’ fabulous duds. One such proud parent was Mary Fayet, an advocate for the adoption of disabled pets, who brought Lexi, a Pekingese-Maltese mix, and Pumpkin, a Chihuahua, to the affair. Both dogs get around by custom wheeled devices, which they employed to zoom around and explore the scene. Pumpkin wore a gold-hued gown featuring a delicate lace overlay, while Lexi radiated Old Hollywood glamour in a fire-engine-red gown. Ada Nieves designed both outfits.
On the other side of the room, Ruben Santana and his Pomeranian, King Tut, held court. As befits his status, King Tut wore a royal-red satin jacket with a wide, bead-lined purple band. He also sported a tiny, jewel-encrusted crown. The jacket is one of Santana’s own creations, from his pet-fashion company Guau Guau Designs. According to Santana, King Tut, a three-year-old rescue, never leaves the house without his kingly trappings. “He’s royal, so he’s always dressed like royalty.”
Eventually, the fashion show got underway, with PupScout founders Susan Godwin and Jennifer Moyer, along with their respective dogs, the Morkie Tasha Bella (a national troop leader with Pup Scouts) and Meteor, a toy poodle, introducing it. First up on the runway was Paco, dressed in a replica of the elegant black-jacket-and-white-shirt combo Tom Hanks wore at the 1995 Oscars, where he won best actor for Forrest Gump. Next came Beanie the Chihuahua, wearing a gown that referenced the sleek pink Ralph Lauren dress Gwyneth Paltrow made famous at the 1999 Oscars, where she garnered the Best Actress award for Shakespeare in Love. Beanie’s Mom, Sophia Cotzia, could not stop beaming with pride. “I’m friends with Aida,” she later told me. “We’ve done a lot of rescue work together, so this has been a really fun way to promote that.” Her other Chihuahua, Simi, also modeled the frothy pink Christian Dior gown Hilary Swank wore to the 2003 Oscars.
Another notable on the runway was Sparky the Chihuahua, carried by Mom Karen Sanabria. Sparky was outfitted as Chris Hemsworth at the 2014 Oscars, with an eggplant-color jacket that made the pup stand out just as Hemsworth did among the see of black-clad male celebrities at the Oscars. Sparky’s sister, Chai Latte, also worked the catwalk, dressed in the Elie Saab number Halle Berry wore to the 2002 Oscars, where she won Best Actress for Monster’s Ball.
Schnauzers aren’t necessarily populous in New York City, but you wouldn’t have known that on this runway. Ruly and Venus, two adorable representatives of the breed, made an appearance. Ruly, animal companion to Urbano Hidalgo, modeled Kevin Spacey’s look from the 2014 Oscars, where the actor sported a navy jacket over a white shirt, and a bow tie calling to mind the nightclub chic of the Rat Pack. Venus, meanwhile, owned the pure-white satin number Angelina Jolie wore to the 2004 Oscars. Miguel Rodriguez, proprietor of the Venus & Dalila pet spa, and the proud father of Venus, was thrilled that his pup got the chance to model Nieves’ exquisite replica of the legendary dress. “It was an honor to be invited by Ada Nieves to be a part of this show,” he says. “I’m so happy Venus was able to do this, as it benefits some great animal-rescue organizations.”
Other pups walking the runway included Pulguita, a Chihuahua dressed in a replica of the red, full-length Giambattista Valli Haute Couture gown Emma Stone wore to the 2012 Oscars, and her sister Mimi, who wore a recreation of the black gown with white-striped veil that Julia Roberts donned at the 2001 Oscars. Roberts won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in Erin Brokovich that evening. As with all the looks on display, Nieves did a fantastic job capturing the tiniest details of each outfit, such as the large bow Stone tied across her shoulder. Speaking of, Princess the Shi Tzu stunned the audience with her perfect rendition of Freida Pinto’s 2009 sapphire-blue beaded John Galliano frock. Not surprisingly, photographers at the event couldn’t get enough of her.
After the fashion show, which also featured Oscar looks donned by Jared Leto, Sandra Bullock, Ryan Seacrest and Jaime Fox, among others, the participants walked down a special red carpet to a staging area for “paparazzi” shots. Doggie-circuit superstars Victoria Viscardi and her dog, Gia Marie, the Brooklyn Pom, provided commentary à la Joan and Melissa Rivers. Later, Ada Nieves gathered several of the dogs that did not participate in the fashion show for an impromptu one of their own. It was the right move: All the dogs at this bash were true stars.