Isaac Mizrahi munched on an hors d’oeuvre (“I never waste an opportunity for a pig in a blanket”) and gushed to us about the virtues of his dog Harry, as well as of dog-ownership in general. He was the emcee for the ASPCA Bergh Ball last Thursday, but the guests of honor were a pack of dogs up for adoption.
They strutted across the marble floor of the Plaza’s Grand Ballroom while women in little black dresses held the ends of their stylish neon-orange leashes.
“Let me tell you, as a single girl- are you single? A dog is a man magnet!” Mr. Mizrahi said.
The best breeds for attracting a guy’s attention?
“If you’re gay, a really butch dog, like a shepherd, you know? If you’re straight, and you’re a girl, I think a feminine, wonderful little thing, like a shih tzu. I think it has to be on a leash though. That’s what really turns a guy on. It really resonates, because he wants to be on that leash!”
Guests milled around sipping cocktails and petting the dogs. One woman carried a rhinestone-studded clutch in the shape of a sleeping cat, and another wore a floor-length gown printed with rows and rows of dictator Mao Zedong’s portrait in various states of defacement (one with a drawn-on mustache, one with a clown nose, etc).
The only guest that did not seem to be having a good time was a Chihuahua named Jeffrey, who was handed to each passing socialite for a picture on the red carpet. He was doing alright for himself until Lake Bell, in an elegant mint-colored gown, posed with her tattoo-artist fiancée Scott Campbell, who held the dog in his arms. Photographers went ballistic at this photogenic sight, and the resulting explosion of flashing light made Jeffrey wriggle his stubby legs in sheer terror as he scrambled in vain to escape to safety.
“This is the coolest event to come to for animal rights, because you get to dress up in fancy clothing, and not only are humans invited, but also sweet little mutts,” Ms. Bell said, after returning a trembling Jeffrey to his attendant. “Any event where there are mutts at the Plaza is an event worth coming to.”
Star Jones, whose parents recently adopted their dog from the ASPCA, brought her own dog Pinky along for the festivities. A tiny creature whose long white fur was pulled into a ponytail at the top of her head and tied with a pink ribbon, she blinked up at us from within Ms. Jones’s handbag.
“She loves the bag!” said Ms. Jones. “Look, if I take her out now, she’ll jump back in.”
A jazz band played onstage in the dining room, and several paintings by Hunt Slonem of minimalist white rabbits and colorful birds stood on display. As they settled down for dinner, guests noticed that their seats were already occupied by a paper cutout of a cat’s face attached to a popsicle stick, to be used for bidding at the auction. Some guests laughed and waved the cat head at their neighbor, and others looked a little unsettled.
We left for the evening tut-tutting to ourselves about a woman we spied wearing a white mink stole. After seeing no less than a dozen fur coats swinging ominously on their hangers at the coat check, we wondered what Jeffrey would think.