Charity Spotlight: Fashion for Paws

by Editorial

Fashion for Paws will be hosting its 6th annual runway show as a fundraiser for the Washington Humane Society.
By Jill A. Norris

Ashley Taylor at F4P2011 (Photo by Kyle Samperton)

Typically, when fur is incorporated into a fashion show, it is featured as a coat, clinging to the shoulders of a somewhat skeletal model. However, everyone from PETA to the ASPCA is drooling over the fact that they can finally attend an event without having to sneak through the back door and throw paint on the model.  Fashionistas and dog-lovers alike have been coming together for Fashion for Paws’ (F4P) annual stylish and heartwarming event since 2007.

Over the years, the Washington Humane Society (WHS) has raised more than $1.5 million for homeless animals through this uplifting event. This year, their goal is to raise $625,000. “We’re not exactly nervous about meeting our goal, but rather anticipating and excited,” explained Tara de Nicolas, Executive Director of F4P and WHS Creative Director. “Last year we raised $529,000 and had a goal of only $490,000. We set the bar higher for ourselves and for the models.”

This year’s event will be held on April 14, 2012 at the National Building Museum at 8:00 p.m. and will be co-chaired by Michelle Benaim, Dr. Ashley Hughes, Tommy McFly and Sara Nielsen, with Pamela Sorensen as the Master of Ceremonies. E! News correspondent Ashlan Gorse will also host the event. Ninety models will be walking in the show, dressed exclusively by Tysons Galleria, along with 40 furry friends in ready-to-wag spring 2012 doggy couture, designed by Wagtime. Each model will compete for the title of “Fashion for Paws Model of the Year.” Both the male and female winning models will be featured at an awards reception for having raised the most money for the Washington Humane Society.

Over the next two months, each model will be hosting various fundraisers in the hopes of becoming the Model of the Year. In addition to chasing after the possibility of being best in show, all models who raise more than $10,000 for the cause will automatically be included in the 2013 Fashion for Paws Runway Show Super Model Calendar. According to de Nicolas, Dr. Katy Nelson, Windy Shepard and Susan Ostrowski are currently tied in the lead, but Candace Ourisman and Tommy McFly are right on their tail.

“People are so dedicated to the cause and are genuinely dedicated to making a difference. [The models] know that the money is in good hands and is going directly to the cause,” said de Nicolas. “They are all dedicated individuals even though it is not easy. They are truly in it for the right reasons.”

Although some speculators may fear that incorporating live animals into a fashion show could be problematic for various reasons, de Nicolas was proud to announce that they have not had a single behavioral issue with any of the dogs that have participated in the past. Man’s best friend has proven to be a great companion on and off the stage, for many of the models walk alongside of their very own pets. De Nicolas was also thrilled to announce that her Jack Russell will also be returning to the runway. “He is a super and confident ambassador,” she vouched.

The Jefferson Hotel recently hosted F4P’s 6th Annual Runway Launch Event to get the ball rolling. This was the first year that the Jefferson Hotel has sponsored the annual fundraiser and de Nicolas described it to be, “by far the most successful [launch event]. They made it easy on our part, and it could not have been a more beautiful setting.”

Sponsors for the charity event include Syzygy Event Productions, Digital Lightning, Design Cuisine and Edge Floral Event Designers. Combined, these sponsors have donated more than $350,000 in set design, production, lighting, sound, food, flowers and more. The Fashion Institute of Design (FIDM) will be making their first appearance at the event by opening the show with 10 designs with corresponding doggie couture pieces that will be worn before the official F4P models hit the stage. Behind the scenes chaos will be managed by the Aba Agency,and Toka Salon & Day Spa will be prepping the models for their runway debut.

Georgetown Cupcake will be raising money for WHS as well. This will be the second year that the famous dessert shop will be participating in the fundraiser. It will be selling specific F4P cupcakes for $3.00 each and will donate all of the proceeds directly to the cause. According to de Nicolas, last year the establishment alone added $10,000 to their total money raised.

General admission tickets are on sale for $95. However, VIP tickets for $250 allow access to a special reception starting at 7:00. Please click here for more ticket prices and sponsorship information.

Fashion for Paws, 2011. (Photo: Kyle Samperton)

Fashion for Paws, 2011. (Photo: Kyle Samperton)

Fashion for Paws, 2011 (Photo: Kyle Samperton)

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