The Observer breathed a sigh of relief as we took the escalator up from the pit of Oscar de la Renta fans. With time to kill before the much anticipated designer dog show, we toured around the shoe department.
Eager shoppers manhandled the Louboutins as helpless salespeople looked on. The fire alarm briefly blared but guests barely took pause, looking at the flashing alarm light and deciding definitively to sift through the pricey platforms, mules and slingbacks instead.
We headed up a floor where, forty minutes before the dog show was slated to start, a crowd was already beginning to form. Top twenty hits bellowed from a DJ booth as a true cross section of New Yorkers, or at least those with any interest in fashion, shopping or dogs, was assembling. Students, wheelchair-ridden grandmothers, locals, out-of-towners, couture-clad shoppers and T-shirt wearers all flocked to the third floor to see the spectacle.
People grumbled as the show got off to a late start, but seeing the adorable and utterly ridiculous dog (and human) ensembles was well worth the wait. Judges including Georgina Chapman (whose husband Harvey Weinstein slinked in late wearing a T-shirt and blazer), Keren Craig (who took home the top title last year with her pup) Naeem Khan, Santiago Gonzalez and Monique Lhuillier all eagerly appraised the dogs and their performances on the catwalk.
Designers went all out, dressing their canine companions to the nines. Wes Gordon showed off his little dog Coco who was dressed in the designer’s own threads. Lela Rose went the cerebral route with her pup Stitch, covering the him in flowers and attaching a cardboard sign to the leash indicating that the dog was in fact a Jeff Koons piece on sale for $3 million. Oh Lela, what a kidder. Her effort paid off, however, and she and Stitch ultimately took home the “Paws de la Huerta” award for sheer fabulousness.
Although the designers were supposed to save the runway for their dogs leading them down the catwalk from the ground below, designers Mark Bagdley and James Mischka apparently missed the memo, deciding to walk the runway themselves carrying their two pups Rommel and Whiskey. While the ceiling was far too short for the two designers who had to slouch down the catwalk, their dogs stole the show dressed in full wedding regalia as William and Catherine, complete with a giant wedding ring on Rommel’s paw. Or was it Whiskey? The designing duo ultimately won the Virginia Woof award.
Designers Carly Cushnie and Michelle Ochs showed off their dog skittish dog Thyme, later taking home the Spaniel Day Lewis award for best grooming, while Joseph Altuzarra dressed his schnauzer Bean in a winter parka, winning Collie Golightly prize for best attitude.
The Observer caught up with jewelery designer Nicholas Varney whose dog Rigatoni was dressed in a mini tux with a bejeweled broach. “I think Rigatoni did exactly what he came to do. He wasn’t here for like the frilly prize, he wasn’t trying to like dress up like a meringue, he just wanted to be masculine and himself,” Mr. Varney said after the show, clearly bitter at being snubbed by the judges. Asked what (human) shows he was most excited to see this week, Mr. Varney gave a shrug. “Each one is as good as the rest. I look for the jewelry in the shows, because I think jewelry is actually more important than the clothes, though I’d be on the losing side of that battle this week,” he conceded.
As the judges deliberated, ever glamorous Iris Apfel appeared. The Observer asked Ms. Apfel if she had seen the show as she stared at us through her signature black glasses. “Unhappily we were stuck in traffic so we only saw the winners,” she said, adding that she did not have any dogs but wishes she did. Which shows are Ms. Apfel most anticipating this year? “Oh, Rucci, Naeem, and Calvin Klein,” the nonagenarian told us.
We left Bergdorf’s after the dog show and into the busy Fifth Avenue night. Thousands of people were walking around, crowding the sidewalks and jamming traffic. The police gates, which had seemed so superfluous when we arrived, were barely maintaining order as guests crammed against one another to see Bergdorf’s live window performances. A singer performed from behind the glass as speakers projected the music onto the street, while models pretended to sew couture gowns in the adjacent window.
The festivities were still going strong as we headed back downtown.