Have you ever been behind the scenes at a well-known designer’s atelier? What about backstage at a New York Fashion Week runway show? This week’s Just My Style is extra special, because we’re going to do just that! While for the past two weeks, celebrated pet couturier, Anthony Rubio, has weighed in on current trends and how to wear them and how to get the best fit for your pooch, today it’s all about what’s behind the curtain, the grit behind the glamour. Anthony has invited us into his studio to watch him work, and backstage for his Spring/Summer 2016 New York Fashion Week celebrated runway show, featuring pet and human fashion!
So, grab your favorite beverage, get cozy and let’s be voyeurs!
Just My Style: Behind the Curtain
by Anthony Rubio
A peek into my process – The Sketch & The Hunt!
For those who don’t know, New York Fashion Week presents a full season ahead. It descends upon New York City two times a year; in September for Spring fashion and in February for the following Fall. As such, designers have to research and get insight into what may be trending, if not make their own predictions for that coming season. Things I consider when predicting what will be hot, are what is being shown on runways in other locales like Paris, London, Milan, and even Dubai. Inspiration comes from where ever and when ever. Fashion, to me, is like religion. I read, eat, drink and dream fashion!
While I originally studied women’s wear design at school, pet fashion is my priority. In preparing for my shows, I decide what direction I’d like to go, then begin basic sketching. The next step is the fun part I call “The Hunt!” Taking into account the season I’m presenting, I begin searching for the textiles. A lot of foot work and investigation is necessary. I refuse to skimp on materials. For me, quality is more important than price. While a discount is welcomed, I usually break the bank purchasing what I deem necessary to bring my designs to life.
The design takes shape!
I try to create all of the canine designs first, and then coordinate or match the human designs afterwards. I create patterns, followed by mock ups of each design, where needed. I collect my mannequins and start draping the fabrics to make sure the chosen textile will work and meet my desired specifications.
Then, it’s time to cut and pin! As the fabric takes shape on the dress form, it’s very exciting. Once I’m satisfied, I take the pinned fabrics and do my basting. For those who don’t know, basting stitches are usually long, spread out stitches done by hand to hold fabric pieces in place, prior to permanently sewing them. They can easily be pulled out, once you’ve permanently stitched. After basting, it all goes to the sewing machine!
After the garment has been sewn, I schedule a fitting with the pet or human model to make needed adjustments. Once done, I either steam or press the garment, depending on how delicate the fabric is, before I start doing any decorating or embellishing, which is a featured part of my designs.
Is your dog my perfect model?
There are a few things I consider when choosing who will walk in my runway designs. What dog or human model will meet the criteria to fulfill my dream presentation? I have a vision about how I want my designs to look on the runway and I do my best to choose models that will bring that to life.
I prefer to use seasoned models, but do bring in new dogs and humans. I’ve also been known to contact the local shelters to include a dog up for adoption, in order to do my part to bring much-needed attention to the plight of abandoned pets needing forever homes. Once casting is done, I’ll get the specific measurements of all the models. At this point, the production of my new creations begin!
Sometimes, my canine models are famous. Just below are Instagram dog stars @ChloeKardoggian, @EllaBeantheDog and @ChloetheMiniFrenchie. They might look like nervous models, but they were just relaxing backstage.
What’s behind the curtain of a big runway show?
The most important garments in a runway show are the ones that open the show, because this sets the tone and get the most media coverage, and the grand finale, which must leave a memorable impression. This is the WOW moment that leaves the audience wanting more and looking forward to your next presentation. It can make or break a designer.
For my upcoming New York Fashion Week show on February 14, I am presenting examples of the trends we discussed in the first post of this series. I’ll have metallics, faux furs, animal prints and lots of bling. I design every piece with the idea that any of them has the potential to either open or close my show. I couldn’t begin to tell you how many crystals, beads, stitches or trims have been utilized for a particular garment, because I don’t limit myself and use as much as needed to get that garment to the level of my expectations.
Pre-Show Prep for Doggie Divas
It may be hard to believe but the canine models are the easiest ones to work with. There is no competitiveness or envy. They are here to please and don’t get stressed about showing. Before the show begins, they actually sleep and cuddle with their owners. I take advantage of this, and ask that the owners spend time with their chosen human model to get to know each other and for the dogs to acclimate and get comfortable. It’s important the dog feels safe when walking the runway. I want it all to be a seamless transition.
In my SS16 show, we decided to break in a new canine model. Though he has a very sweet disposition, 110 lb+ Magneto, the Leonberger, was still a pup and very attached to his mommy. When he went out on the runway and saw all the people and flashing cameras, he suddenly wanted to bolt, but thankfully, I had assigned him an experienced and brave model, who reigned him in long enough to finish the presentation. They actually got some of the best photos and press of all the models!
Let the show begin!
When you’re orchestrating a runway show, every detail matters. I have to admit, and I’m embarrassed to say this, I help dress and then inspect each and every model before they go out onto that runway. Before that, I will have met with hair, make up people and groomers to stylize each look before they even get dressed!
There is so much tension and excitement rolled into pre-show set up back stage. I go into automatic mode, and suppress my nervousness while setting the order of each model to walk the runway. I try to get personal photos and film footage, but in strict confidence to the human models, prefer not to go public keeping this for my own personal archives.
At that moment right before the first model goes out, I give them a pep talk as a group, while my stomach does summersaults. I don’t show the stress or nervousness I feel, to avoid making the models nervous, too, but truth be told I get light headed at times!
By the time the last model goes out, I will have an idea of the audience reaction. I take a deep breath and end the final model’s walk with my runway walk and bow. As I come off the runway, my knees get week, my eyes water and I finally exhale. We’ve done it.
Thank you, Anthony! I have goosebumps! For those who missed Rubio’s New York Fashion Week show last September, you can see it in its entirety, just below. Read on to discover what’s next!
Did you feel like you were there; could you imagine Anthony’s process and the anticipation of the show?
For those in and around New York or who want to travel to New York during New York Fashion Week, Anthony will be doing in his own runway show on February 14th at Gotham Hall, and as part of the famed New York Pet Fashion Show on February 11 at the Hotel Pennsylvania.
I’ll be there, as a presenter and Official Style Expert of the 2016 New York Pet Fashion Show, and as an excited spectator at Anthony’s own show, covering it to bring the most tantalizing fashion back to you, here on Bark & Swagger.
We still have two more weeks to go with Anthony in the Just My Style series. Tune in next week for a post I think you’ll love on DIY fashion, where Anthony will have a very special surprise for you!