Hervé Leger was in a pickle. For months, the designer’s French bulldog, Ming, had been ill with hyper-keratosis – warty growths on the nose – and a bad case of arthritis. An assortment of Parisian veterinarians had been shooting Ming full of steroids to combat the arthritis, but by early October the warty growth was still there. What with the flurry of the spring-summer, ready-to-wear shows coming up – booking models, fitting clothes on them, deciding whether their hair should be up or down or curly or straight – and dealing with a sick dog at home, Leger was a total wreck.
Help, however, was on the way. For most Parisians, Fashion Week means the grand debarquement of thousands of retailers, journalists, photographers, stylists, and models. But for Leger it meant salvation: Kim Hammond, D.V.M., would soon be checking into the Prince de Galles, a trusty black bag of American remedies in hand. Every March and October, the forty-six-year-old Dr. Kim, as he is called by his patients’ owners, leaves his practice at the Falls Road Animal Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and boards a flight to Paris to attend his fashion clients’ ready-to-wear shows, and to attend to their pets.
Among Dr. Kim’s official duties in Paris is the semiannual checkup he gives to Valentino’s pugs Maggie, Molly, and Oliver over at the Ritz; this year, he also wrote several prescriptions for a Connemara pony named Jo, belonging to the Christian Lacroix press attaché Berengere Broman, to take care of her hoof disease and asthma. “I have to be careful which clients I mention,” he explained. “The owners don’t want to appear to be second-guessing their home-town vet.”
Dr. Kim is a fashion pureblood himself: his great-grandfather, Andrew Saks, founded Saks Fifth Avenue. So when his cousin, Peter Marx, who runs the family-owned Saks-Jandel department stores, invited him to the Paris shows a couple of years ago, the veterinarian couldn’t resist. “Everyone in Paris loves their pets so much. People bring them to the shows, and to lunch, and we sit around and talk dogs.” the doctor said.
In between fashion-house calls, Dr. Kim finds time to attend most of the shows. Of last month’s collections, he declared Dior “really great,” and thought Chloe was “a little young, but good.” As for Chanel, “Well, I better not say anything,” he murmured. But Valentino, he said, “had some beautiful things – things I would buy a woman I was going out with.” And he doesn’t miss a party “Puff Daddy’s bash at Les Bains Douches – what a blast! And the one at the Moulin Rouge (the Saint Laurent one) was really wild. It was so funny to see all the old Yves Saint Laurent staff dancing to disco.” Meanwhile, Leger’s Ming is doing just fine. Dr. Kim applied some keratolytic cream to her nose, and the unsightly warts just disappeared. “She’s perfect,” Leger told me. “Even her fur is thicker!” After the Valentino show, Leger invited Dr. Kim over for lunch. “I had another engagement,” Dr. Kim said. Leger persisted. “He said, ”But Ming will be there!'”