A Review: FIT’s ‘Barkinistas’ Dog Fashion Show

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The 4th Annual Pet Fashion Show "Barkinistas Unleashed" by Fashion Institute of Technology students held in the Katie Murphy Amphitheatre at Fashion Institute of Technology on Wednesday April 18, 2012. Photo: Jennifer Weisbord/?Jennifer Weisbord

“I guess I’m supercalifragisexy, nothing to be playing with,” boomed Fergie's voice moments before Phoebe, a shih tzu clothing model, urinated on the runway. Perhaps Phoebe’s act of transgression was a tribute to the tiny-bladdered singer — and maybe she was making a statement in support of what Dawn Deisler, the alpha designer of last night’s "Barkinistas" dog fashion show and second-time winner of the Best of Fashion award, told me were the traditional pitfalls of dog fashion. “Most dog apparel is too fluffy or costumey,” Deisler complained postshow.

It’s true that last night’s event — a group show from the participants in FIT’s professional development certified program in pet product design — was a mixed bag of frills and pomp alongside linear, architectural silhouettes from Deisler, who debuted a python leash-harness-bag trinitae to oohs and ahhs. But the frocks barked for themselves — costumey cape nonsense from Lauren Kmiotek slid off the furry back of at least one of its wearers, while stalwart pieces from Deisler, Canadian star-child Coty Farkas, and punk rock Europhile Adrienne Rock clung to their models with the tenacity of a rottweiler’s jaw clenched around a rawhide snack. And speaking of hide, Deisler was sure to mention the natural materials — leather, snakeskin, and other decidedly nonvegan staples — that comprised her work, including a suede coat that bedecked a Newfoundland–size beast, Chewee the Leonberger, who strode down the catwalk with kinglike grace. When it comes to the innovations of the graduating class of dog fashion design, it may be key to do as Phoebe did and listen faithfully to the call of nature.