The room was packed; the music blared. And, as the human and dog models took to the runway, one by one against the backdrop of the ornate Lower East Side cathedral, the Angel Orensanz Foundation, the hairs on my arms stood on end. Experiencing a New York Fashion Week runway show is nothing short of thrilling. And for this show, it had special meaning. Anthony Rubio is one of the preeminent pet couturiers who, for two years now, has shown at New York Fashion Week with his complimenting human and dog fashion.
With each show, Anthony raises his own bar. Travels abroad, experiencing the culture and fashion of Italy and France, have given him a more worldly view that is reflected in the structure of and materials used in his designs.
For this show, Fall/Winter 2017, Anthony drew inspiration from a variety of places, creating an almost mash ups of styles and textures. “I have an affinity to fashions from the 1940’s and 1950’s,” Rubio shared with me. “I explored those time periods in fashion, and drew my color inspirations from European Royalty. I chose to infuse deep jewel toned colors in the forms of embroidery and my chosen textiles, as well as the hand made flowers I created, set against dark backgrounds. Think of it as ‘Night Flowers’.”
Indeed. The floral skirts worn by the dog models were rich-looking and very detailed. Embroidered organza featured a appliqued riot of flowers, yet maintained a lightness. Anthony elaborated on the pet fashion pieces.
“For the canine models, I continued my study into night flowers and also included jewel references and luxurious sequined fabrics. As per usual for my shows, my canine models included rescues and, in this case, an adorable White Schnauzer from The Sato Project named Boomer.” The Sato Project saves dogs at risk on the streets of Puerto Rico, and now Boomer is gracing the catwalk of New York Fashion Week.
“There were also two rescued Chihuahuas named Yeyush and Rezno, who were all too happy to model in my show,” he shared. Yeyush was a puppy mill rescue, who still bears the number 13 tattooed on his right ear; a reminder of the horrible years he spent in a cage as a breeder dog. “And, who can forget Henry, the rescue who represents Bideawee and was adopted by investment banker/philanthropist Todd B. Richter,” Anthony added. Bark & Swagger spent some time with Yeyush and Renzo backstage and they, as well as their daddy, were lovely.
For the ladies’ garments, Anthony loves them all, but does have faves. One of them was also a favorite of mine.”The skirt is in fuchsia and it features huge clusters of flowers embroidered in metallic gold thread, layered over another solid organza skirt of that same exuberant pink,” Rubio described. It truly is a gorgeous piece, as you can see here.
I asked Anthony what his most challenging piece was and why.
“I would have to say the design worn by Magneto, the Leonberger, which resembled chain mail and featured an incredible collar of glass jewels,” he shared. “It was my biggest challenge. Did you see the size of that magnificent creature? I had to hand sew most of that garment and I fused the glass to create that incredible collar. But, no challenge is too big for me to overcome! At least it has not presented itself to me as of yet.”
Anthony also shared an interesting tidbit with me, regarding a favorite childhood designer who influenced some of his fabric choices. “I was shopping for fabric when I stumbled across two crinkled textiles that reminded me of the timeless creations of Mary McFadden, who I referenced for three dresses,” Anthony revealed. “They were in shades of midnight blue and one in a blue silver.”
A memorable part of the show for him? The debut of his first junior miss design, a gorgeous white organza fantasy dress with a swath of bright tartan, worn to perfection by professional child model, Brielle Simpson. Brielle is a special girl, and not just for her catwalk prowess at such a young age. On her ninth birthday, Simpson requested monetary gifts only, then donated them all to animal rescue. She was delightful backstage, very warm and engaging.
Other looks I loved:
Prior to Anthony’s show were two others, presented by Ana Ono and by 21 Reasons Why by Madeline Stuart. Both were very powerful.
Ana Ono’s show was honoring everyday woman living with breast cancer. Cancer fighter and activist Champagne Joy, creator of the Facebook community #Cancerland, took the stage with actress/activist and long time friend, Mira Sorvino, to describe what we were about to see. What followed was shocking, powerful and inspiring. Sixteen women, all fighting breast cancer, strutted one by one down the catwalk in beautiful Ana Ono intimate wear and, once reaching the front of the runway, took off their tops, exposing their breasts. Some were scarred, some removed, others intact. But all of these women were courageous and strong; fierce, in fact, everything we do not associate cancer “victims” with being. These women were not victims.
Following Ana Ono was Australian model Madeline Stuart, who became a sensation in 2015 when she challenged fashion industry norms as a runway model with Down Syndrome. At this show, Stuart launched her own collection, 21 Reasons Why, a nod to her turning 21 this year and the extra copy of chromosome 21 that is characteristic of Down syndrome. Her collection was a casual one, with lots of leggings and fit wear fabric skirts and tops. She did a fantastic job.
Inspired and sated, we left the cathedral feeling like we’d experienced something important, across the board.
For more information on Anthony Rubio Designs.