Bad to the Bone: Rescued on the Runway is a professionally produced fashion show, but its staff extends beyond the usual cadre of stylists, makeup artists and Zoolander types. Along the runway, dog handlers sub for paparazzi, placed to reassure the dogs who cruise the … er … catwalk with the models.
Bad to the Bone co-founder Diane Lundeen says the dogs have varying degrees of enthusiasm for the spotlight.
“Some dogs are just fine. They’re like ‘Hey, I’m here! Take me home!’ Other dogs are like ‘Are you kidding me? You want me to do what?’” she says.
More bashful pups are welcome to strike a pose at the runway's entrance, but others happily vogue their way across the stage in hopes of being adopted. Ten dogs will be eligible for adoption in connection with the show, held Sept. 17 at 6 p.m. at Eiffel Society.
Lundeen, who owns the boutique Petcetera, started Bad to the Bone with a friend as part of a plan to raise money and awareness for local animal rescue groups. The show has since outgrown its original location at Republic New Orleans, raised thousands of dollars and facilitated the adoption of numerous shelter dogs.
Lundeen hopes to raise $15,000 with this year’s event.
“[It was just] two women at a coffeeshop, and now nine years later we have an event that has 10 rescue [dogs], a silent auction and [involvement by] multiple local businesses … It’s very interesting, being a ‘pet lady’ who is now trying to do a ‘show biz’ thing,” she says.
The fundraiser has three parts. When guests arrive, they’ll peruse silent auction items and enjoy food from local restaurants. Each food vendor is linked to a specific animal rescue group. At 7:15 p.m., the canine king and queen of Barkus (including Lundeen's Weimaraner, Alex) kick off a fashion show of dogs and models both wearing hand-made costumes by local designers such as Oliver Manhattan, NOLA Bitch Couture and The New Orleans Costume Center. After the show, there's a live band and a costume contest for both pets and their humans.
“Some people don’t have pets, so we actually have a best human costume [category] as well. We don’t want to exclude someone just because they don’t have a four-legged friend,” Lundeen says. Competitors can win prizes including a three-to-six-months supply of dog food and restaurant gift certificates.
Unlike the stuffier galas that dot the fall social calendar, Bad to the Bone is a family-friendly, casual event. You’re welcome to wear a tux or ballgown, but Lundeen says most people come in costume or casual wear, and “well-behaved, leashed children and pets” are welcome to join in the festivities. (One past guest brought a chicken, but for the most part dogs rule the evening.)
It’s all part of the event's inclusive fundraising philosophy, in which lower ticket prices allow a larger segment of the population — including families — to attend and contribute to the animal welfare cause.
“How often is it that you get to bring your child and your dog to the bar?” Lundeen says.