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Backstage at Gauntlett Cheng AW18Photography Luke Abby

A New York label just sent dogs down the runway

Meanwhile at fashion week...

Over the course of eight seasons, underground New York label Gauntlett Cheng’s shows have featured effortlessly diverse and body-positive casting. But for AW18, called “Happy and Healthy,” designers Esther Gauntlett and Jenny Cheng took things a step further – by including dogs. All of the pups wore variations on the collection’s baby prints and distressed “Swiss cheese” knits. It was beyond delightful, not to mention serendipitous, timing-wise: not only is the Westminster Dog Show currently happening in New York City, but it’s almost Lunar New Year for 2018, the year of the dog. Versace too is celebrating with a capsule collection featuring Donatella’s pup, Audrey. 

“My sister has an Italian greyhound named Toby and she’s always wanted me to make dog clothes for her, but I was always like, ‘I don’t have time,’ things like that,” said Cheng. “And then one day I thought, why don’t I just incorporate this into the line?”

“We want it to be an ongoing thing,” Gauntlett added. “A pet diffusion line.” Those are currently all the rage – consider Petements, a Vetements parody Instagram account that recently expanded into actual e-commerce.

Making pet clothes was challenging; the measurements were obviously different (as Cheng put it, “One of the dogs was 12 inches around the ribcage. I was like, what the hell, that’s a rat!”) and the designers needed to allocate for extra legs. A pooch they met in an office near their studio, Trixie, became the fit model. Gauntlett’s mother ended up walking her in the show.

Several of the dogs featured were the models’ actual pets – artist and Glam party founder DeSe Escobar appeared in magnificent The Simple Life-style velour with her dog Serenity, stylist Jake Levy walked with furry friend Tuxedo, and former As Four designer and founder of the Hasbeens & Willbees auction house Kai Kühne brought along his pup, Tipsy. “All of the dogs are our friends’ dogs, so we knew their personalities, and those came out into the outfits,” said Gauntlett. “We were like oh, Serenity needs a bikini.”

As far as canine model behaviour goes, there was zero cattiness (I had to!). “I thought there would be way more barking, but all the dogs were pretty good,” said Cheng. “They were born to model.”