The day was bright and unseasonably warm for New York for ELYSIAN’s inaugural CatWalk FurBaby.
In the middle of Broadway theaters and Times Square, the sidewalks were filled by your typical commuters and tourists, but a handful of four-legged friends punctuated the standard hubbub.
Early attendees could sneak a few peeks of the beautiful dogs poking their heads and tails outside for a turn around the block, enjoying the sights (and more likely smells) of the city around them before their big moment. A beautiful white Great Pyrenees spotted on the corner, a small-size mix with an adorable back-leg wheelchair strolling by piqued the interest of passersby curious as to what these animals were doing in the middle of the bustling city.
For those lucky enough to attend CatWalk FurBaby, these cute pets were about to stroll down the runway in a fashion show and experience like no other that New York Fashion Week has offered.
Attendees came from across the country to support this cause and the partners that inspired it. The audience included South Carolina Lt. Gov. Pamela Evette, boxer Evander Holyfield, women of all ages from Montana, Florida, California, and just down the street in the city. The mingling amongst the group bubbled and as they descended into Sony Hall, the beauty of the building, the mood lighting, and fashion week displays enveloped you into another world.
One of the more impactful moments came from Marc Bouwer, one of the designers featured not only behind the scenes, but walking down the runway alongside his model, bedecked in silver flare leg ensembles, a matching Yorkie, and a bold sign that stated, “Adopt Don’t Shop.” Marc’s dedication to animal welfare is not something new. He has received a PETA Humanitarian Award as well as the United States Humane Societies “Compassion in Fashion Award” for his trailblazing work avoiding animal products in his designs.
Another highlight came during the second half of the show when Dr. Christina Rahm, the founder of DRC Ventures, walked the runway alongside her models unveiling Enviremware from Bill & Coo, a couture luxury pet and human fashion brand featuring a nano-biotech protective coating that offers a barrier against hazardous toxins.
“There are solutions, but let’s wake up. Life is chaotic, so I have teamed up with women of empowerment,” Dr. Rahm said during the presentation. “The models up here with me today are beautiful, but beyond that they are lawyers, ambassadors, professional impressive women.”
She added: “We stand up, not just to be beautiful, but we stand for solutions.”
DRC Ventures works toward solutions for the betterment of society in many ways, but the cause of the day was animal welfare, and everyone in attendance teamed up with each other to raise money for the shelters.
The show’s host, the unflappable Consuelo Vanderbilt Costin, kept the vibes high and navigated the simmering energy throughout the show. At the start, Consuelo was honored as ELYSIAN’s latest cover model, and the cover reveal was a live moment for everyone to enjoy as she assured the crowd this was truly her first moment seeing the cover. The knowing smile and confidence emanating from the glossy front encapsulates her essence, the very essence that made CatWalk FurBaby exciting from start to finish.
The winning designer, Gloria Lee, was chosen by the event’s impressive judges; supermodel Carol Alt, actress Karen Abercrombie, and New York Fashion Week founder and icon Fern Mallis. Known for her beautiful collections made with compostable fibers, domestic manufacturers, and embodying production processes like Zero-Waste patternmaking and using upcycled fabrics that are the least harmful to our ecosystem, Gloria Lee’s fashion goes beyond her support at events like these for animal welfare. Her winning outfit was expertly modeled by Quinn Copeland, a young actress with credits on the musical Waitress, along with television shows like Enola Holmes and Punky Brewster. She wowed the audience with her comfort in the beautiful outfit and the confidence in which she walked with an adorable stray chihuahua from Global Strays, a New York-based rescue organization.
The People’s Choice Award was facilitated by the ELYSIAN Connect app, so that voters at the event and those livestreaming it from home were able to cast their ballot to send a prize home with another rescue organization. Big Dog Ranch Rescue has saved more than 50,000 dogs and has redefined rescue facility standards.
Two puppies in attendance, currently up for adoption, found their forever homes at the show. Hannah and Hugo, mixed-breed dogs from a local New York rescue, found their humans at this memorable event. In a room full of devoted animal lovers, is it any surprise that those animals still looking for homes would find them in this group?
There is an effervescence to a fashion show like this, and so many moments worthwhile of its own feature story. While the fashion world can sometimes feel serious, this event took that seriousness and added the bubbly fizz to make it pop.