A few weeks back I was blown away by Isaac Mizrahi’s New York Fashion Week show. Yes, his designs were incredibly lovely, but what really caught my eye were the glamorous poodles that proudly walked the runway along side Mizrahi’s models. Wanting to know more about this spectacular show, I was thrilled when the talented groomers, responsible for styling these catwalk dogs, agreed to answer some of my questions. With their creative approach to styling and show-stopping expertise, The Salty Paw in New York City is certainly not your average grooming spa.

What was it like to work with Isaac Mizrahi? Did you conceptualize any parts of the show together?

Amanda: It was a pretty amazing opportunity to work with such an international known designer. We were so flattered they choose our groom spa. Our groomers are experts in their field of dyeing. We took a meeting with Isaac and his team to discuss the colors, and fancy ?show cuts? that would work on the poodles.

How were you connected to Isaac and approached for the show?

Amanda: They approached us after looking up Best Dog Grooming in NYC on the internet. We were recently voted AOL?s City?s Best Pet Culture and by Time Out New York as Best Indie Pet Shop for the 2nd year in a row. We were thrilled to be asked to participate. In return for work on the casting, dyeing and cutting the dogs, we are also offering each of the signature looks from the show exclusively at the Salty Paw.

What were some of the requests made for the dogs? Anything beyond just fur dying?

Amanda: I think the most important part of Isaac?s show was the ?color?. Once our head groomer paired up the colors we knew would work on the dogs with his color palette, it was easier to then move towards the cuts for the dogs. Isaac had bows worked into every design in his collection so he wanted to do ?bows? on the dogs. We were able to cut bows into the fur of the standard poodles across their sides and the toy poodles had them across the top on their rear bottoms. It was quite an amazing sight once the dogs were matched with their models.

Where did the dogs come from?

Amanda: Two of the dogs were friends of Isaac?s. The rest of the poodles were clients of ours. Everyone was excited to take part of such an exciting event.

What were , if any,  the challenges of doing a runway show?

Amanda: The biggest challenge was finding the right poodles who could handle the runway. Then it was trying to make sure the idea’s that we were trying to achieve “translated” on the poodles. We only had one shot at getting the color and cut right, since its not pencil and paper, where we can erase and start over–like a sketch. Isaac’s team were great! They understood that these were animals and people?s pets. We had to take all the precautions needed to put the animal?s wellness first. If something was not possible, we would say so and they completely understood and would come up with another idea. It really ran pretty smooth after all was said and done. We did use 2 of our house dogs to test out idea?s since they had similar fur to the poodles.

Janet: Yes two of my Maltese?s were ?guinea pigs?. I love the look of my female Maltese. It was an idea that didn?t work for Isaac?s show since it wasn?t the right concept BUT they did see it and think it was brilliant. As far as the poodles go, I think making sure the dogs bows were in the correct spots, that the colors matched as much as we could get them to Isaac?s collection and of course scheduling the dogs to be dyed was a big task. And when ideas changed making sure the owners agreed to the new changes.

Was this the first time The Salty Paw has done anything like this?

Amanda: Our head groomer May Pilan is a terrific groomer and colorist with dogs. We were contacted and featured in the NY POST this past fall with a couple of our dogs sporting edgy haircuts and color. One of our dogs photographed was dyed to look like a panda bear for The Salty Paw’s Annual Halloween Party (along with a really cool Mohawk on another pup). May has done lots of fun things with color on clients, including a great “lion” on a toy poodle that happened to also be a “runway dog” for Isaac?s show. But this was our first invitation to take part of New York Fashion Week.

Speaking of color, how safe are the dyes you use on the dogs? How long does it take for these dyes to wash off?

Janet: The dyes we used on the dogs are 100% non toxic and not harmful for the dogs. The dyes take anywhere from 4-6 weeks to wash out with normal bathing although it would be less if the dogs gets baths more frequently. (i.e, Cecil the blue dog is already back to being white.)

How have people been responding to The Salty Paw since the show?

Amanda: The first two days after the show, we had tripled the amount of hits to our website, and a few blogs (present company included) wanting to do a feature article on us. Plus the bragging rights that go along with this experience is pretty cool. One of the dogs in the show comes to daycamp with us so he garners a lot of attention when he?s here and people see him playing.

Does the Salty Paw have plans for any upcoming runway shows?

Amanda: We are talking about doing a runway show at the shop, featuring local designers and our dogs this summer or fall. Our mission with The Salty Paw is to always feature local designers and artists. It would be great to do more high fashion stuff. The dog industry is always evolving and changing so its exciting to be able to see how people respond.

Janet: We would love to be part of another runway show. Although the thrill of Isaac?s show was that NO ONE was expecting dyed poodles to match his collection. But we are always up for new challenges.

A huge thank you to the Salty Paw owner Amanda Zink, manager Janet Carhuayano, and head groomer May Pilan for sharing your fashion week experience with us! We wish you all the best and can’t wait to see what’s in store for the Salty Paw.