This originally appeared in Show Notes, GQ staffer Samuel Hine’s fashion week newsletter. For more stories like it, hit the link above and subscribe.
The trendiest accessory this NYFW? It’s not those red bizarro MSCHF boots that have been all over social media, nor is it an “It” bag. Instead, if the past few days have been any indication, the coolest thing to have at the shows this week is: a dog. At Sunday’s Puppets & Puppets show, stylists and editors rubbed shoulders with guests named Pickle, Sweet Pea, Opal, and Tika, an Instagram influencer who also happens to be an Italian greyhound.
“We’re definitely seeing more” dogs in the audience at fashion week, fashion PR maven Gia Kuan told me. Kuan, who manages guest lists for brands like Luar and Foo and Foo, says that she is fielding an increasing number of +1 requests from dog owners who want to bring their pooches along with them. Other ticket requests come straight from doggie Instagram accounts. Dogs are a great way to attract street style photographers, she explained, but they can present some logistical challenges. Pups who can’t handle the chaos of crowds and flashbulbs are liable to go haywire, and bathrooms—for humans and dogs alike—are nonexistent at most shows. And then there’s the fact that not all dogs fit into handbags. At last season’s Luar show, where hundreds of guests were packed tight into scarce seats, one fashion editor brought their enormous schnauzer. “It was super beautiful, but giant, and took up a lot of space,” Kuan recalled.
Surprisingly, most venues don’t seem to mind. Non-service dogs are technically not allowed in indoor restaurants and many museums and theaters in NYC, but that hasn’t stopped pooches from becoming regular fixtures in almost all social spaces in recent years. At Foo and Foo, I turned around in my seat to find a Pomeranian with a pink dye job named Prittany sniffing my jacket. “This is her first fashion show, but she loves going to concerts,” said Prittany’s owner, musician Veronika Vilim, who was wearing a matching pink coat. At Puppets & Puppets, Sweet Pea, a 6-year-old rescue chihuahua about the size of a bottle of Fiji water, wore a cute vintage plaid dress sourced by her owner, actor and artist Bobbi Menuez. “She likes the attention” of shows, Menuez said. As far as front row guests go, Sweet Pea was extremely well behaved, quietly observing the models as they strutted by, and softly howling in approval during the finale. Menuez said they were worried about getting their furry friend into the David N. Dinkins Manhattan Municipal Building, where the Puppets show was held, as it had tighter security than most NYFW haunts. “Luckily they didn’t even acknowledge her,” Menuez said of the guards manning metal detectors at the door. “They were probably just like, Oh, fashion people, they do stuff like that.”
They sure do—dogs are also gracing the runways this season. At Collina Strada on Friday night, Collina designer Hillary Taymour had one of the models hold her 11-year-old blue merle Pomeranian, Pow. Pow—who wore a charm necklace and grinned widely—was in good company, in a sense, as many of the models wore prosthetic animal snouts and ears. (The title of the collection? “Please Don’t Eat My Friends.”) Taymour, who is vegan, often includes animal themes in her collections, but Pow is emerging as a late-career fashion star in his own rite. He made a cameo in the front row of a fashion show in an episode of HBO’s Gossip Girl reboot, and, on Friday, the model who held him wore a top printed with an image of Pow’s face.
Few fashion week puppers are as popular, though, as Tika. Also known as Tika the Iggy, the trembly Montreal native has 1.1 million Instagram followers. By that metric, the mohair sweater-clad Tika was (by my count) the third-most famous Puppets & Puppets attendee, just behind Tove Lo and Sasha Velour. The dogfluencer economy, I learned, operates by simple logic: dogs in tiny clothing clothes are extremely cute, and do big numbers on social media. Additionally, the dogwear industry is thriving. SSENSE has an entire section devoted to designer dog sweaters and coats by luxury brands like Moncler and Versace, and last month, Pitti Uomo, the menswear trade show held in Florence, opened a section for pet accessories. When asked for comment, Tika, who prefers being interviewed over email, said that many brands are starting to realize just how big the market for dog fashion is: the pet apparel industry grew to nearly $6 billion in 2021. “Plus, designers always say how fun it is to make an outfit for a four-legged model,” Tika (via owner Thomas Shapiro) added.
One designer perhaps more responsible than most for the canine clothing crossover is newly minted CFDA chairman Thom Browne. Browne and his partner, the Met curator Andrew Bolton, own a gentle wirehaired dachshund named Hector, whose likeness inspired a line of leather bags which essentially prove the point of the dog-as-accessory move: the bags attract delight, and many photographs. Hector, having helped sell countless bags, often accompanies Browne to his office. But he rarely gets invited to Thom Browne shows, and is as yet unconfirmed for Tuesday’s Thom Browne show at The Shed. Which makes a certain amount of sense: come show day, Browne is a busy man. And Hector, presumably, likes to be the center of attention.