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Hello, dahlings! May-hem prevails but recent soirées teemed with pizzazz. The style parade sparkled with four-legged specimens at one lively affair while accomplished women headlined another.

Bowwow Wow

Dogs just want to be arm candy. At the Muttini Mixer, a benefit for the Delaware Humane Association, the dogs were more duded up than their owners—a sure sign that fashion has got legs (four) when owners give them enough rope. Brandi, a white Pomeranian, was very much the glamazon in a sequined red shirt that said “sassy” and a matching tulle collar. “Brandi has a hat, but she doesn’t wear it very well,” confided Brandi’s human companion, Paula Lanham, the association’s volunteer for special events, who left four cats and a bird at home. Abby and Cammie (short for Camilla Parker Dog), aunt-and-niece pugs owned by Chuck and Mary Clayton of Newark, looked delectable in tiered, pink satin dresses that were custom-made at Whiskazz and Pawzz, complete with pink, martini-embroidered leashes. Did Delilah, a golden retriever from the shelter, in a pink velvet ballet dress, feel like the prom girl who wore the same gown (almost)? “It’s a princess dress from Happy Harry’s. She got it for Halloween,” explained Delilah’s owner and personal shopper, Don Swadey of Claymont. With so much canine chic orbiting the runway, so to speak, the Residences at Rodney Square in Wilmington were transformed into a cross between an indoor doggie run and the John Paul Gaultier show in Paris. Not every member of the small whiskered set seemed determined to look like Penelope Cruz on the red carpet, though. JoJo, a chocolate lab, went spiffy in a striped tie from Joseph A. Bank Clothiers, which his owner, Tony Bariglio of Wilmington, described as “one of my best.” Millie, a pretty mixed breed, kept her statement simple: a pearl-trimmed fuchsia collar and leash. Meanwhile, Millie’s master, Ken Pienkos, a public library director in Kennett Square who’d helped with the Humane Association’s rescue effort there, had a gleam in his eye. “I thought maybe the plan would be to open the cat cages at the end of the evening, go wild,” Ken said.

Some adorable felines were up for adoption that night. But dogs, dressed to the nines or no, had superstar status. John Rago, chief of communications and public policy chief for Wilmington Mayor Jim Baker, clutched Brandywine, a one-year-old Havanese he’d saved from a puppy mill in Chester County. Ted Van Name, director of Goodwill Industries, showed off a photo of Bailey, his yellow Lab. And Jackson, a white miniature schnauzer accompanied by Eddie Tocci of New Castle, was a come-as-you-are hit. No swanky threads for this scene-stealer. Prizes were awarded in several categories, and no specimen went home hungry, thanks to doggy treats on trays, catered canapés from Hadfield’s Seafood and a cake from Sweeney’s Bakery. The signature drink: a potent Rin Tin Tini made of Reyka vodka, raspberry liqueur and pineapple juice. According to Patrick Carroll, director of development for the Humane Association, the mixer was a mere kick-off for the organization’s 50th anniversary blowout that’s scheduled for November. Underdogs and top dogs, take your marks.

Style Samurai

“You get to go to the neatest things. You know that?” WJBR’s Michael Waite told Gabby at YWCA Delaware’s Evening of Style. So does he, but we couldn’t agree more. This black-tie gala celebrated five prominent honorees plus a slew of other women from presenting sponsors—proactive ladies all, who pack community punch. And the backdrop was soooo elegant: The Raskob Mansion at Archmere Academy, drenched in a younger-than-springtime atmosphere. “What makes tonight special? This is a magical place, full of history. Look at the Tiffany ceiling,” said Ajit Mathew George, a co-chair, with his wife, Sarah Brown. Candles floated amid rose petals in the courtyard’s fountain while Sugarfoot Fine Food garnished its gourmet extravaganzas with blossoms from Flowers by Yukie.

Our question to attendees—what defines style?—elicited some surprising answers. Said Ruth Sokolowski, former YWCA director, “To really have style, you have to be unique. It should be your essence.” Her friend Gail Townsend believed, “Style is the ability to help others feel good about themselves.” To YWCA director Ginny Marino, style is “self-confidence, being genuine and being classy.” YWCA marketing director Christen Battaglia said, “Style is doing what you do best and being comfortable doing it.” Attorney Shaku Bhaya, a member of the YWCA board, saw style as comfort-related, too. “I’m a ‘heel’ girl,” Shaku explained, referring to her footwear of choice. “My friends help me get dressed.” Since no one equated style with blowing two weeks’ salary to look fabulous, we consulted a gal who always looks as if she does: Claire DeMatteis of Wilmington. “Style is presence,” Claire observed. The men showed a bit of style themselves. Jerry Bilton, executive director of Community Service Building Corp., owns three tuxes. He paired his choice with his silver-paisley wedding tie to look sharp. While City Council president Ted Blunt stayed focused on the blackjack table, State Senator Charlie Copeland and his wife, Bonnie, socialized. “I feel like I’m at a debutante party,” George Meldrum of Wilmington remarked during the procession of honorees… Ta-ta, ’til next time.

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