Matilda, the Algonquin Hotel’s celebricat has a new catourier! At her annual charity birthday party held at her famous New York landmark residence last week, she hosted a feline fashion soirée to showcase the fabulous designs of Ada Nieves.
Nieves, in turn took her inspiration for her dazzling collection from the hotel’s literary past as it is known for the famous Round Table, a celebrated group of New York’s literary writers and wits who lunched there every day for a decade in the 1920s.
“I went to the pages of some of the most prolific authors and writers of the last century and called the collection Copycats of the Algonquin Round Table,” explained Nieves.
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When asked which outfit was her favorite, Nieves responded. “I can’t choose. One design seemed to inspire another.”
Daisy, a Sphinx who has mewdelled at past Algonquin feline events, worn an outfit inspired by “The Cat Who Came for Christmas” by Cleveland Amory who wrote wonderful books about his curmudgeonly Polar Bear. Amory was also co-founder of the Humane Society of the United States. The dress in a beautiful green taffeta with red trimmings lit up with tiny lights designed to look like fireflies.
TV actress Malika Samuel’s cat named Ferrara wore a dress inspired by Beatrix Potter. The beautiful black and white kitty made her debut on the catwalk at this event and proudly and calmly posed for the popping photoflashes.
Tigger a handsome tabby wore a hand-painted design inspired by Mark Twain’s books The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.
Undoubtedly a photographic favorite was Aodhan wearing a black taffeta Mardi Gras ensemble with a mask which he was only too happy to show off. French poet and author Jean Cocteau’s work inspired it. Along with Marlene Dietrich, Edith Piaf, Coco Chanel and Pablo Picasso, Cocteau founded a club called the Cat Friends Club whose members wore a cat-shaped membership pin.
The Algonquin hotel has had a resident cat since the 1930s. The story goes that one rainy night a very wet and bedraggled tabby cat wandered into the hotel seeking refuge from the atrocious weather. Frank Case, the hotel’s then-owner and the quintessential host, welcomed the furry traveler and offered it milk served in a champagne glass in the hotel’s famous Blue Bar. He invited it to stay as a permanent guest.
Initially, the hotel regulars named him Rusty in keeping with his orange tabby coloring. But Barrymore, who had had a successful run as “Hamlet” on Broadway and who was an Algonquin regular, decided that the feline needed a more dignified name and suggested Hamlet.
And so a tradition was born; the hotel has had a resident cat ever since. All the males have been named Hamlet with deference to Mr. Barrymore and the females have been called Matilda. The incumbent Matilda is the Matilda the third and the tenth cat to call this hotel home.
This year, Matilda’s “assistant” Alice de Almeida, who is also known as the CCO – Chief Cat Officer decided that Matilda would hold court at the front desk to greet her guests instead of mingling with the mewdels as she has done in the past. Guests, some of whom had flown in from different parts of the world for the event, were thrilled as it gave them an opportunity to get up close and personal with America’s most famous feline.
Matilda took office as the Directfurr of Guest Relations at the in 2010 and this was the third party she’s hosted. Despite being a pedigree Ragdoll, she was abandoned at an animal shelter and adopted by the Algonquin. Since taking office, she has become a great spokescat for feline adoption. This year’s glittering event benefitted Bidawee the oldest cat shelter in New York City.