NYC's Most Stylish Dogs And Their Designer Mom

Here at the R29 office, bring-your-dog-to-work day is pretty much every day. We're late for meetings because we stop to pet cute pooches on the street, and we genuinely ooh and ahhh at the seemingly endless albums of puppy pics on our UPS guy's iPhone. But our obsessive doggy affections can never, ever compare to the love famed pet designer, Ada Nieves, has for her five chihuahuas. The fab five are always decked out in pearls, Swarovski crystals, and red carpet gowns, all handcrafted by Ada herself. Not only do Nieves' dogs (Vanilla, Tabasco, Mojito, Margarita, and Kahlua) sport their owner's mommy's designs, they also star in campaigns for a variety of acclaimed, ahem, human designers, like Ralph Lauren, Cole Haan, and Reebok. Oh, and one of her pups even had her own wedding, which we're sure had enough glamour to rival Kim Kardashian's big day. So, back off Lassie, Toto, Bruiser (and, yes, even Jiggy!) — you've got nothing on this quintet of cute.
Click through to see the craziest puppy couture and a peek into the life of celebrity dogs.
Photographed by Tracy Wang
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When did you realize your dogs had IT and what is IT for dogs?
"When I first met each of my dogs, what struck me immediately was their looks — the shape of their faces, their coat color, the expressions in their eyes. These attributes are as important in dogs as they are in human models. Also, I noticed how focused and alert they are, which is important for learning basic obedience. You definitely need to have that when working as a pet model."

What is Vanilla's favorite outfit?
"Well, Vanilla has quite a wardrobe, including jewelry, shoes, and sunglasses…however, her favorite outfits are dresses. Once she sees me grab a dress, she goes all crazy and starts barking and dancing…she knows something nice is coming up!"

Ada harnesses one of her pups in a convenient carry-all.

Photographed by Tracy Wang
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Do each of your dogs have their own personal style?
"Oh, yes! They have their own distinctive personalities. Vanilla is very princess-like, Margarita is more of a tomboy, and Kahlua is girly but not really a princess. As for the boys, Tabasco likes to rule and is very manly, and Mojito is kind of sporty and playful."

How do you bring out a dog's personality when designing an outfit for them?
"When I'm designing an outfit for a dog, I make sure to ask the owner lots of questions so I can understand the dog better. I ask where the outfit will be worn, what a normal day for the dog is, how active the dog is, has he or she worn an outfit before…things like that. Then, I look at coat color, sex, size, and create what comes to mind based on all the information I have."

Photographed by Tracy Wang
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Why Chihuahuas?
"Why not?! They are wonderful companion dogs — smart, sassy, with great temperament, and let's not forget good looking! Even though they're recognized as one of the smaller breed in the world, these little dogs come with the largest personality, and I simply love that! Wouldn't you?!"

What's the biggest thing one of your dogs has been a part of, and their most outrageous outfit?
"Wow, they've done so many things that it's hard for me to keep track! I would say the Oscar gowns that got them international recognition, being in international advertisements for brands like Reebok, being in movies like BBC's Beautiful People, it's hard to choose! The most outrageous outfit to me would be the scuba diver outfit Vanilla wore for a Capri Sun TV Commercial, it was really hysterical!"

Ada's cat, Martini is one cool customer. Photographed by Tracy Wang
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If your dogs were human celebrities, which would they be and why?
"Vanilla is definitely Meryl Streep — she's been around the block a few times, and every time she comes back is better than ever!

Tabasco can be Johnny Depp — he's extremely smart and likes to stand out, but at the same time he also prefers to keep his privacy. Inside, they are both a little shy and reserved, even though what comes out at work and in public is the opposite.

Mojito can be a Bruno Mars! He's young, talented, and has a very retro style.

Margarita is Lady Gaga! It's always her way, and her vision. She might be a bit of a tomboy, but when she has to hit the red carpet, she is loud and makes her presence be known. They are both pretty petite, too!

Kahlua is Anne Hathaway, the girl next door. She's beautiful, social, funny, not afraid to try new things — a classic girly-girl at heart."

Photographed by Tracy Wang
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Who is your favorite celebrity dog?
"When I was growing up, Lassie was a favorite for me and everyone else I knew. As a teenager, Spuds MacKenzie took over! I also love Chloe & Papi from Beverly Hills Chihuahua, but my absolute favorite is my very own Vanilla. She is amazing!"

Where do you shop for your dog clothes?
"No shopping needed! Mommy makes them clothes that fit their personalities and are well adjusted to their cute bodies."

Ada's designs hang "backstage" at a recent local doggie fashion show.

Photographed by Tracy Wang
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What is your favorite dog park in NYC?
"I actually have two, but my absolute favorite is Tompkins Square Park — you can find me there any day, either walking my chihuahuas or my cat, Martini. He's another fashionista, too!"

A regal pup models Ada's designs.

Photographed by Tracy Wang
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Which designers have they worked for?
"Margarita models for Ralph Lauren, and her back-ups are Mojito & Kahlua now. The pups have also worked for Cole Haan, Reebok, and children's clothing companies."

Bunnies don't get left out of Ada's creative wears! Photographed by Tracy Wang
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Any plans to make human clothes?
"I've been been playing with the idea, especially about making matching outfits."

Ada walks her pups with matching outfits and leashes.

Photographed by Tracy Wang
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What is a common misconception about dog celebrities?
"Maybe that they're rich?"

How much does the average doggie outfit cost? What was the most expensive outfit?
"In my recent line the outfits start at $25, but they can also cost as much as $500 depending on the fabric, if there are any crystals, or special trims."

Photographed by Tracy Wang
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I know Vanilla is married — how is the marriage going? When did you know she was in love?
"Vanilla sees her hubby Eli from time to time, but they're both so busy with their careers! She is proud of him. For her, it was love at first sight — whenever she sees him, she starts to lick him! And, well, when she's not on the mood, she'll growl."

Who are some of your top celeb clients and what do they ask you to design?
"I have worked for 30 Rock, MTV, E!, Ice Loves Coco, and many more shows as the pet stylist. The list of dogs that I have dressed ranges from those in the top 10 AKC dog shows to local dogs. Each dog has their own style, from gowns to dresses to tuxedos or popular latin guayaberas!"

Photographed by Tracy Wang
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Any doggie diva moments?
"Isn't that what we live for?! Every day is a diva moment for my dogs! Mojito will howl, wanting mommy to pick him up, and Vanilla won't share a bed because she thinks it only belongs to her! Margarita hides food and toys, and Kahlua doesn't want to share mommy's lap, and Tabasco will pee in your bag to show you he is the man!"

Photographed by Tracy Wang
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What do you say to people who think it's weird to dress up a dog?
"Try it! Get some outfits, style your pet, and take some pictures. Share them with your family and friends, and you'll definitely see a lot of smiles just by sharing your furry friend's personality!"

Photographed by Tracy Wang
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Any exciting future plans you can share with us?
"I have a show on February 10 at The Hotel Pennsylvania's 18th floor ballroom, where I am the co-chair, creative director, and pet fashion designer of the event. The Chairman is Gregg Oehler, who is the publisher of Cesar's Way Magazine. The theme of the event is Venetian masquerade, so all dogs and their humans have to come wearing masks! Later on in the evening, we're going to choose a king and queen of the masquerade. We're also going to be showing off dog wedding outfits for each of the seasons, exhibiting the latest products, and, of course, we have to award the Best Dressed and Best In Show!
It's going to be totally fun, and it's affordable — admission is only $25 per person, and dogs get in free! You can get your tickets here. The proceeds will also benefit NYC Animal Care Control, which is really great."

Photographed by Tracy Wang