I am thrilled to say that this is my eighth season presenting for New York Fashion Week. It has been quite a ride reaching great distances I had not imagined but am ever so grateful to have reached.
I had been warned that while New York City and most fashion-forward cities in the country would be receptive and open to the concept of dressing dogs, it might not play out the same in the eyes of the rest of the world. I kept getting warnings and advice that I should tread carefully, be patient and practice restraint because for sure there would be skeptics. I was told that not everyone could afford to dress themselves or family members no less the family pet. While others might get turned off or not want to follow through I sat down and processed this. I believe that the best approach was to educate and paint a clearer picture with broad strokes enlightening the dog owners that the dogs are family members and should be treated as such. I did demonstrations. I explained the options and the fun and I got through to them.
This is a new genre. We cohabitate with our canine friends or should I say canine family members. We dress them out of necessity at first but we also do it to be in fashion, to send messages, to celebrate situations and events. I sold them something they had not imagined or that they would think they would like. That was at least 10 years ago. Where people thought it was foolish to dress a dog now it is not only part of the norm, something to be expected. If it is cold outdoors it is expected that the dog is dressed appropriately. Today events are created to have a reason to dress the dogs. We have Barkday parties (birthday), we have Barmitzvas, themed costume parties and even Nuptials. Most of these events are done not just to dress the dogs but to raise funds for rescue organizations. I have included rescue pups in my shows now for several seasons and am glad to see that this has motivated others to do the same.
I must remind you that I was the first and remain to be the designer to feature dogs on the catwalks of New York Fashion Week as the models escorted by humans also wearing my creations. I appreciate that other designers have chosen to seemingly follow suit. Unfortunately, theirs is to show dogs as accessories which is completely the opposite of my mission. In my show, the dogs are dressed and celebrated as man's best friend and as family members.
The theme of my Fall 2019 collection.
Fall arrives on the heels of Summer. The weather is pleasant and still warmish. As the temperatures drop, layers of clothing are worn. While the Summer brings bright exuberant colors to some, to others pastels are refreshing especially when in clothes of natural fibers like cotton or linens. For fall, the colors are warmer reds, Brown's and earth tones.
For this collection, I was inspired by a study of cultural fusion. Cultural fusion is the process through which newcomers to a culture adopt behaviors/traits of the dominant culture and maintain elements of their minority identity to function in the dominant culture. I chose to create garments with the dominant culture being American classics. I introduced colors and subtle design concepts of other cultures like Egypt, Latin America, India, and on the dogs English and Italian garden motifs. I kept the razzle-dazzle glitz on the dogs and not the human models. I wanted the dogs to shine. The Women's wear had lots of ruffles as did some of the canine couture. Red was the dominant color owed by beige and anchored with black. The dogs wore the same colors only theirs were encrusted or infused with crystals and glass beading.
The end result was an explosion of cultural influences. It all reminded me of a gypsy caravan. It all looked romantic and the audience fell in love.
I would like to leave everyone with a final message. Until the day you adopt a dog you have no idea how incomplete your existence really is. We can learn so very much from them. I have learned that life is only complicated and filled with obstacles because we allow it. Dogs, like most animals, are resilient. They do not discriminate. They offer unconditional love and only seek companionship and love in return.
I dress the dogs for function but wholeheartedly do it to bring attention and love to them. Let us all celebrate man's best friend.