Chien Chic

THIS ARTICLE WAS PUBLISHED IN ORLANDO STYLE MAGAZINE

Glitz, glamour, excitement, photographers, runways, the latest fashion trends, buyers, and designers from all over the world – yes, the New York Fashion Week has it all.

But we’re not talking Giorgio Armani and Louis Vuitton here – we’re talking Oscar Newman and Chien Coature! Why? Because this is Pet Fashion Week New York, and it’s taking place at the Metropolitan Pavilion in the Big Apple on August 23-24.

Established in 2006, the show is possibly the finest trade show of its kind ever, and attracts designers and buyers from all over the world and sets trends. It also emphasizes how far we’ve come since man first clothed his beasts.

How It All Began

Many think that it all started in Europe in Medieval times, when gallant knights riding out to war in winter needed protection for their horses, not only from the cold but also from incoming missiles! Some were even given suits of armor or chain mail, similar to what their masters wore.

Horses and dogs were working animals to humans long before they were our pets. And when conditions called for it they had to be protected. Groups of warriors such as knights eventually evolved into the military and law enforcement organizations that operate all around the world today. The animal members of their teams have always needed protective clothing while at work, and still do. It is probably from them that the movement to clothe animals began in earnest.

Today, however, the main role of dogs, in particular, has changed from working animal to pet. There is no reason to safeguard them from attacks anymore, but a desire to keep them warm or safe from insect bites and scratches has become widespread.

However, what started as just a snug coat for a winter’s day, has transformed into a multi-million dollar industry where the sky’s the limit when it comes to what is available for today’s lucky pets.

Puttin’ on the Ritz!

And the snug coat? Well, you can still buy it, of course, but it will probably be a merino wool hoodie. And a jogging suit wouldn’t be out of the question, neither would a hand-smocked dress, denim jackets, skirts, jeans, hats, cooling vests for summer, organic apparel, t-shirts with humorous sayings on them, pajamas, socks and shoes, jewelry and bows, bling-splashed collars and leads – even doggie wigs! And, of course, little closets to store all the goodies in!

California-based Angela Grieco has been involved in pet fashion since 2004 when she and husband John started G.W.Little, a lifestyle catalog for small dogs. Their publication and website gwlittle.com cater to customers all over the world and deal almost exclusively in luxury items at the high end of the market.

“Today’s clients want the best of everything,” Angela says. “Designer labels such as Gucci, Coach, and Juicy Couture, to name but a few, are all making clothing, totes, collars, leads, and accessories. They choose materials such as Ultrasuede, and adornments such as Swarovski crystals. Diamonds and pearls are even used. It’s all about the bling, and the oh so luxurious fabrics such as rich satin, silk, and cashmere.”

Angela considers herself very lucky. Her greatest loves in life are photography and animals. At G.W.Little she combines both with the help of constant companion Peluche, her long-haired Chihuahua and the company’s top model! “She’s fabulous in front of the camera,” says the proud mom, “and her sense of style just blows me away.”

“Fashion Is Fun!”

Another reason Angela loves what she does is that: “Fashion is fun, dogs are fun, and people who live with dogs are too! Nothing gives me greater joy than to provide quality products to our customers. Each season is filled with exciting new items that we bring in and evaluate for quality, fit, and function. Our customers depend on us to provide them with offerings that are only the finest for their little dogs.”

Lisa Raehsler is on the same wavelength. As the woman behind fundogfashion.com, a website devoted to articles and reviews on the modern dog lifestyle and trends, she thinks that “as dog fashion moves forward, people will see luxury clothing as not just something to wear, but more of a lifestyle that includes furniture and everyday items to make the lives of their pets more pampered.”

And that’s good news for designers, manufacturers, and retailers, who’ll be out in full force during Pet Fashion Week New York. If you decide to go too, make a side visit to the city’s chic Flatiron district and visit the Trixie + Peanut Pet Emporium. With clients that include Julia Roberts and Britney Spears, the store has been featured on Oprah and Good Morning America to name but two TV shows, and is truly one of the places in the world to shop for dogs.

Since founder Susan Bing started her online store trixieandpeanut.com in 2000, then went one step further and opened her pet boutique in 2003, she has seen just how dressing up pets has become more and more popular.

“Movies such as Legally Blonde, and celebrities such as Paris Hilton, have made all this more acceptable,” she says. “Pet clothing is also becoming trendier, and as more people demand it, there is a much larger selection of styles available.

“Designs are now inspired by looks shown on the runway, and often reflect today’s trends in human clothing. Most people like to dress their pets to reflect their own personal style, and the latest looks in pet clothing and pet accessories make this possible.”

But you don’t have to be Sharon Osbourne or Jessica Simpson to get in on the action. You just need a sense of fun, a cute little dog, and off you go. And yes, they’re worth it!