The fashion extravaganza had all the trappings of a traditional Seventh Avenue show. More than 300 buyers, designers and journalists strained for a better view. Perfectly coiffed models trotted down the runway at Macy’s in New York City. The latest styles of outerwear, resort wear, even formal wear swept by. But there was one small difference. The models were, well, dogs. And cats.
“For 1990 and beyond, I predict the dressing of pets as a tremendous fashion movement,” fashion forecaster Bernie Ozer told Women’s Wear Daily last summer, and judging by the New Year’s rush his prediction has already come true. The Petigrees boutique at Macy’s has been doing brisk business in matching owner-dog sweaters ($50 for you, $17 and up for Fido, from Poochi, Inc.), and Burberry coats ($35 for an imitation from Pet Smarts, Inc., $165 for the real thing). Other retailers, including Neiman-Marcus and Bloomingdale’s, are also investing in feline fashion and canine couture. “Today a pet is an important family member,” says Neiman-Marcus buyer Gloria Wickersham, who is having a hard time keeping L. Coffey Ltd.’s Barbara Bush-style pearls—cleverly dubbed Purrls—on shelves geared to finicky felines.
Pamela Fahden, a Minneapolis fabrics designer, says she dolls up her cats, Mabel and Irwin, in Purrls “just for fun. It doesn’t bother them, so why not?” Meanwhile, Nina Levine, a Maplewood, N.J., grandmother, has bought so many duds for her poodle, Tori, she’s crowding her own clothes out of her closet.
For the true trendsetter, though, the most avant-garde items include jogging suits ($24 and up), bandannas ($8.50), sequined pullovers ($26 and up), camouflage T-shirts ($12) and jewelry (prices range from $9 to more than $800 for a diamond-studded 14-karat-gold dog tag), with crosses, Stars of David and a tiny No. 1 the biggest sellers. Of course, an outfit isn’t complete without fragrance. New York’s Le Chien salon sells canine parfum at $38.50 for 3.3 ounces, and Jenny Distler, owner of Cathouse Fashions of Boonton, N.J., has expanded her line to include a cat cologne that doubles as flea repellent.
Where will it all end? “I’m waiting for the day,” says Tom McLaughlin, executive director of the Western World Pet Supply Association, “when my neighbor’s dog will be sporting a Walkman on his morning jog.”