How a New Venue and Vision Changed the "Fashion for Paws" Benefit

An overhaul of the the pet-friendly runway show switched its venue and cut attendance.

By D. Channing Muller April 15, 2014, 7:15 AM EDT

The fashion show had 46 models hit the runway with their four-legged friends. Tysons Galleria retailers provided clothing for the models, while Wagtime outfitted their companions with tutus, jackets, and bandanas.

Photo: Tony Brown/imijphoto.com for BizBash

8th Annual Fashion for Paws
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A change in venue and event size had mixed results for the Washington Humane Society's annual Fashion for Paws runway show and fund-raiser on Saturday.

Planners project that the night raised around $420,000, about $200,000 short of its goal. However, director of special events Emily Miller said the organization is happy with the results and considers the party a success. The event moved from the National Building Museum, where it’s taken place the past three years, to the Omni Shoreham Hotel. The move cut attendance numbers by nearly 400 people to a sold-out crowd of 1,000—about 700 people less than at its peak in 2012. 

“It’s more cost-effective to do it in a hotel where we don’t have to bring in a bunch of vendors that cost us additional money,” said Miller, who took the reins from former executive director Tara De Nicolas following her departure from the organization in September. “We were looking for a hotel that comes with a lot of services we need for an event this size, and the Omni does events like this every day.”

Organizers also reduced ticket prices by $50 from last year's $250 V.I.P. ticket and $150 general admission rates, neither of which sold out in 2013. The $500 individual table seat tickets remained the same price yet brought in more revenue with 36 sold, three times as many as 2013. The other tables provided seating for the night’s 30 sponsors that donated between $3,000 and $10,000 each along with Audi returning at the $20,000 level.

The changes for 2014 extended to the production, as well, with Design Foundry taking over the design and decor from Syzygy Events International and donating nearly $100,000 worth of services. The company executed a predominately pink and white color scheme throughout the Omni’s ballroom, with colorful plaid details on the stage and brightly colored striped linens on the tables.

The organization has not made final plans about next year's event venue, although they are looking into returning to the Omni. Here’s a look inside the party.

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