April 5, 2006

CORRECTED: New York fashion goes to the dogs

Please read in paragraph eight ... to her boyfriend ...
instead of ... to her husband ...

By Claudia Parsons

NEW YORK (Reuters) - From a Chihuahua in a white Marilyn
Monroe dress to a bulldog in a purple net tutu, the dogs of New
York today are as well dressed as their owners.

At a dog fashion show this week at one of New York's
hottest clubs, waiters circled the room with glass bowls of dog
food as well-groomed young people sipped cocktails and their
dogs sniffed out new friends at the bar.

Preparations for the show, which raised money for an animal
rescue center, were as chaotic as any fashion event, with some
new problems.

"There's a lot more barking and a lot more interesting
smells," said actress Stella Keitel, daughter of actor Harvey
Keitel. Stella Keitel was among those walking with the canine
models on the catwalk. "I'm definitely watching where I step."

Pet fashions are big business, with major retailers such as
Target producing lines of clothing and accessories and boutique
stores opening in swanky districts of New York.

According to the American Pet Products Manufacturers
Association, 63 percent of U.S. households own a pet and total
spending on pets -- including food, vet care, services and
products such as fashion -- was around $35.9 billion in 2005.

The Animal Fair magazine show drew a parade of socialites,
reality TV stars, models and B-list actors with their pets --
mostly lap dogs with a few retrievers and collies.

Model Beth Ostrosky brought Bianca, an English bulldog
belonging to her boyfriend, radio shock jock Howard Stern.

"Animals are people, especially dogs, they're part of the
family," Ostrosky said, admiring Bianca's purple net outfit
which was coordinated with her own Nicole Miller silk dress.

"Quite frankly it was supposed to be a skirt but it kept
sliding off her so we decided to make it a collar," she added.

Another dog -- a tiny Chihuahua -- was sporting a white
1950s dress inspired by an outfit immortalized because Marilyn
Monroe was wearing it when a subway up draft sent the flared
skirt flying up around her shoulders.

Some of the audience brought their dogs too.

Stephanie Warren came with her miniature schnauzer Minerva
and the two were wearing matching gray and pink wool ponchos.

Warren said she takes Minerva everywhere and that they
frequently wear matching outfits.

"I hope I'm not being ridiculed," she said. "We even have
some of the same jewelry I've had made.

"I've taken her to a wedding before," she added. "I had got
divorced and I didn't have a date so I took her."

Stylist Kristine Karam had a cocktail in one hand as her
dog Minuda peered out of a bag under her other arm.

"She wouldn't wear a hat but she has a beautiful blue
cashmere turtleneck and she has a beautiful strand of pearls,"
Karam said of Minuda, who was unadorned on this occasion.

Susie Essman, an actress who appears in the comedy "Curb
Your Enthusiasm," wore a black and floral dress while her dog,
a Shih Tzu named Sumo, wore a matching coat.

"He doesn't normally wear the same stuff as me," Essman
said. "It's fun for an event but to walk down the street, I
think I would feel a little ridiculous."