Byline: Kevin West

NEW YORK — The Upper East Side is full of car-and-driver stories that make one wonder if the air isn’t a little too thin above 57th Street. But Lisa Gilford, owner of Le Chien, the 25-year-old dog-grooming salon, has one that bears repeating.
“One day Paul Hallingby’s gray Mercedes pulled up out front,” recalls Gilford, at her newly reopened 2,500-square-foot Trump Plaza salon, “and when the driver, in full livery, got out, Peaches and Precious — Carroll Petrie’s toy poodles, who were having their day at the salon — got so excited! They thought it was their car and driver coming to pick them up.”
Diana Ross’s two bichon frises — also clients of Gilford — probably wouldn’t be so easily fooled: They travel by stretch limo.
Gilford’s own Martine, a 13-year-old apricot poodle, has daily brush-outs and frequent manicures to keep her copper-colored nails in shape. She also wears Martine, her signature scent, sold exclusively at Le Chien. (There is a companion scent, Christophe, for males.)
Gilford and Martine went to Rome to launch the Le Chien fragrances, and the dog created a sensation by modeling Gilford’s pet clothes — sequins and jungle prints — on national television.
“After that,” said Gilford, “everywhere, from St. Peter’s to the Colosseum, people were pointing and calling out ‘Martine! Martine!”‘
The two fragrances have been so successful that Gilford plans to produce a unisex scent. Calvin Klein, whose own unisex fragrances have been blockbusters, sends his two Tibetan terriers, named Leo and Flo after his parents, to Le Chien.
A scent for dogs and cats, though, seems out of the question, because dogs are the clear choice of most of Gilford’s clientele.
Maybe Isaac Mizrahi is right: “It’s impossible to have any sense of style without the right dog.” Or maybe cats are just too “Grey Gardens.” Whatever the cause, the little yappers that used to be called lapdogs — toy poodles, corgis, miniature dachshunds and schnauzers — now hold sway in certain parts of New York.
Except, perhaps, for the courtly black standard poodle. Daisy Soros has one; so does hairstylist Oribe, whose 65-pound Pierre sports a Continental show cut and red Elizabeth Arden nail polish.
“Poodles were bred for the hunting of lions,” explains Gilford. The Continental cut — fluffy chest, cropped haunches — evolved from practical trims so coats would dry quickly.
With their short hair, though, poodles need winter protection in New York, so Oribe asked Gilford for help. She designs and makes coats in camel hair or cashmere and creates sweaters from Ralph Lauren yarns.
“And furs are back in again,” Gilford said without a trace of irony, “so my furrier is doing some things for me. Last year I did a lynx for a standard poodle.”
To finish the look, Gilford makes a full line of accessories, from Chanel-inspired leashes to double-strand pearl necklaces.
And should you pose the musical question: How much is that doggy in the window, the 12-week-old Yorkie with near-royal bloodlines? A reasonable $2,500. Car and driver not included.