Rita began modeling just four years ago, but she’s already a seasoned pro.
The Boston Terrier has donned a gown for Vogue Italia, hawked bow ties in Tatler magazine and appeared on the CBS show “Elementary” alongside Lucy Liu. She has about 200 outfits, some of them gifts from her favorite designers. Her Goop-worthy beauty regimen includes weekly manicures, eucalyptus oils and goat’s milk, mushroom elixirs and a high-quality kibble.
“She’s very pampered,” said Patrice Mistretta, Rita’s human — and chauffeur, groomer and handler. On Thursday, the 4-year-old pooch will strut her stuff at the New York Pet Fashion Show. (Rita’s adopted brother, a 7-year-old Frenchton named Francis, is also a model and will attend the show but sit out the runway.)
“I’m the stage mom,” said Mistretta, 46, who lives in East Northport, LI. “It’s like ‘Toddlers and Tiaras.’ ”
Rita and Francis are two of many pet models from across the country attending this New York Fashion Week’s animal-centric events, starting with the Pet Fashion Show and ending with canine couturier Anthony Rubio’s presentation on Feb. 10.
Like Naomi Campbell or Kate Moss, these spoiled pets boast extensive wardrobes, jam-packed calendars, and expensive hair and skin care routines.
“We do four runway shows a year … and a big charity event at least one time a month,” said Gramercy resident Grace Forster, whose Yorkshire terriers, Portia and Rosie, have done runway, editorial and ad work. No commitment is too small, and the pups, aged 13 and 12, are treated to weekly blowouts and scores of free designer duds, from dresses to luxe leashes to over-the-top harnesses (contrary to popular belief, Timothée Chalamet did not start that trend).
“They’ve overtaken the closets [in our home],” said Forster. Just like celebs, “Once Portia and Rosie are photographed in something at an event, I’ll sometimes donate it.”
It’s important to travel in style, so Forster has had her Mercedes outfitted with doggie car seats. “I [need to] keep their hair nice and undamaged,” explained the retiree of her charges.
But pet modeling isn’t exactly lucrative. Runway shows pay in free clothes. Top dogs and cats are lucky to get $200 to $500 for a day’s worth of posing.
But Mrs. Parberry is in it for the glory, not the money. The 10-year-old cat from the Upper West Side is a rescue turned-“spokespurrrson” for New York City’s Animal Care Centers. She has more than 100 specially created costumes by artists who work on shows for Broadway and the Metropolitan Opera, as well as by pet designers like Ada Nieves, who made the feline a flapper frock for last year’s Cat Fashion Show at the Algonquin Hotel.
Parberry’s human, Valerie Volinski, 59, said the couture kitty has up to three fittings per outfit, and even has a custom-made mannequin head form for her hats.
She is also now on a diet after — gasp — gaining a pound. “A pound on her is like 20 on [a human],” explained Volinski.
By Raquel Laneri