Fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi once said, “A mutt is couture—it’s the only one like it in the world, made especially for you.” The devoted dog dad and his husband love to rescue mutts, and he’s not the only designer inspired by our gorgeous canines, who come in every shape and size and color. That’s great to hear if your dog is anything like my Artemis; she hates wearing clothes and while I love all the dogs in costumes on Instagram, we will never have a closet full of clothes for Artemis. It would be a waste. (A closet full of balls, on the other hand…) I’ve always firmly believed that dogs are most beautiful in their natural skin and fur, from their soft but strong paws that smell like corn chips to their little whiskers.
My feeling is validated by some of the greatest fashion designers of our time, who not only bring their dogs to their ateliers and allow them to run around during fittings, but also have designed pieces in their collections inspired by their dogs. Here are some of our favorite fashion designers whose dogs have not only been companions, but also muses:
In the 2008 documentary, Valentino: The Last Emperor, the legendary fashion designer Valentino Garavani declared, “I don’t care about the collection. My dogs are more important.” Valentino loved his dogs so much that he named his short-lived ready-to-wear for younger people after his favorite pug, Oliver, and you can still find vintage Oliver by Valentino sweatshirts online, featuring a picture of a pug, though I cannot be certain that they’re authentic. (Will that stop me from purchasing another designer dog sweatshirt? No.)
His pugs enjoy frolicking in the gardens of his magisterial 17th-century home, Château de Wideville. They’ve boarded the 14-passenger Challenger jet with their dad and they’ve crawled around couture gowns in his atelier. Apparently they’re mean to Gwyneth Paltrow’s kids. I should add that Valentino doesn’t only have pugs, though they are most certainly his favorite breed: “He’s always had pugs […] when they snore, he loves it, and when they snort, he loves it,” his long-time friend, the socialite Lynn Wyatt, once said. Valentino has rescued several dogs, too, including a shepherd-mix named Stella who was found roaming the streets nearby the airport one day.
Menswear and womenswear designer Thom Browne‘s wiry-haired Dachshund, Hector, is an Instagram star often seen strutting around New York City in custom Thom Browne sweaters. His other dad is Andrew Bolton, Head Curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute. That’s a lot of pressure for one small dog, but he holds up with so much grace and style. “Hector is also my muse,” Thom once said. “In fact, in 2016, Hector inspired me to create a bag in his own likeness.” And thus, the Hector Bag was born. “They get along splendidly, like siblings,” Thom added, of his dog and his eponymous bag.
The Thom Browne atelier is known for its uniform appearance—all the design employees are wearing a Thom Brown uniform, in fact, and Hector is no exception. “Every season, there is a new incarnation of the Hector Bag,” Thom said. But Hector the Dachshund is the original.
Marc Jacobs loves his Bull Terrier so much that once upon a time, you could buy Marc by Marc Jacobs loafers with Neville’s face on them. Neville is a major Instagram star and can be spotted in his own seat on Dad’s private jet. Like his dad, he’s a bit of a party animal; many of his Instagram posts feature him with some of his dog friends, who are just as fabulous as he is. (He also has some famous human friends, like Karlie Kloss.) Neville is so iconic that he has achieved what any superstar does in their prime: He released a memoir called Neville Jacobs: I’m Marc’s Dog. Neville is also an activist—he’s a spokesdog for The Sato Project, which rescues dogs in Puerto Rico.
The former Louis Vuitton creative director even once planned to launch a line of dog sweaters under the label, Bark Jacobs. “If it works, great. If it doesn’t, we’ll drop it and do something different,” Marc said. (It didn’t work out.) But while you can’t buy Marc Jacobs dog sweaters, you can find Neville sporting knockoffs.
Roberto Cavalli is known for his flamboyant animal prints in his designs. “We both love nature and animals, and we were successful in reproducing the skin of leopards and jaguars,” his wife and business partner, Eva, said. “Roberto was really involved in this. He travelled the world taking photos of animals and we reproduced animal prints in a particular way.” But his biggest muse just might be his German Shepherd, Lupo, who takes a paws-on approach to the design process: “He examines each model on the catwalk with his authoritarian look, then turns to me, nods his head and I understand that he likes the dress.” Roberto is so obsessed with his dog, that he’s waxed poetic about taking walks with Lupo and taking the train (first class, of course) with Lupo on his prolific blog. Lupo has even been the Cannes Film Festival.
“Often, during our evening walks I talk to him as you would talk to a friend… you know, a friend who knows how to listen to you…” Roberto wrote. “Lupo is a loyal companion, he doesn’t ask anything of me… he is always by my side and is used to traveling by sea and flying in a helicopter without complaint…”
In 2009, Roberto Cavalli Pets was launched, featuring satin-trimmed bathrobes, quilted carrier bags, and yes, a leopard-print jumpsuit just for dogs. It no longer exists, but we’re obsessed with how timeless the leopard-print jumpsuit is. Animal print really is a neutral.
Oscar de la Renta
Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim are the talented and charismatic creative directors of Oscar de la Renta. They succeeded their boss, the late American fashion designer, who has dressed some of the most famous women in the world and was a devoted lover of dogs himself. Recently, they dressed Sandra Bullock and her rescue dog, Sweetie, for the Golden Globes. Sweetie wore a gorgeous bow that matched Sandra’s marigold gown. (#DogMomGoals.) You can often find dogs running around Fernando and Laura’s atelier, in fact, and you can even buy dog sweaters under their other label, Monse. (Yes, they are at the helm of two separate fashion lines! Talk about overachieving.) 100 percent of the gross proceeds their dog collection goes to animal rescue organizations.
Oscar de la Renta himself, of course, also came out with his own dog collection. In 2014, shortly before his death (he died peacefully, surrounded by his dogs), Oscar de la Renta debuted a collection of smart-looking tailored dog coats. In our opinion, those are now part of dog fashion history.
Photos courtesy of Harper’s Bazaar US, BFA, W, Roberto Cavalli, and Architectural Digest