In the Grand Ballroom of the Wyndham New Yorker Hotel Friday, Sept. 11, designer Anthony Rubio presented his Spring/Summer 2016 Collection for New York Fashion Week (NYFW), which runs until Thursday, Sept. 17. Rubio’s event was part of the Expo-Latino Show 2015.
“I have strictly been designing couture for dogs,” Rubio told me. “This is only the third time that I also designed women’s wear.”
And design he did! The women and dogs wowed the crowd.
Rubio had just returned from vacationing in Italy. “It’s non-stop,” he said. “I’ve been invited to so many shows. I’m getting to be known as the designer with the dogs, and I’m breaking the mold. In the past, you might’ve seen dogs used as fashion accessories, but in my shows, it’s the humans that are the accessories.”
There were people streaming in, hurrying to get seats. Socialite Eric Andrew stopped for a moment to say he loves attending New York City fashion events. “I feel very fortunate that I can go to so many. I love Anthony Rubio’s fashions, and I’m looking forward to the show! Excuse me, I have to go grab my spot.”
Rubio said, “I’ve done shows before, but this was a crunch. I was receiving e-mails while I was still in Italy. It was at the end of my trip. I said, ‘I don’t know if I can do this in so little time.’ They said, ‘Of course you can!’ [Laughs] Sometimes I amaze myself. I don’t know how I get it all done especially because I’m a perfectionist and my own worst critic. But it all came together for the show, and I feel happy.”
Rubio’s inspirations for this Spring 2016 line came from his vacation in Italy and “a lot of movies.” He described his fashion line as “affordable luxury.” The show included couture gowns and cocktail dresses with lace.
“Of course, I have the doggie moms come along,” said Rubio. “After all, the dogs are their babies. I have the moms come backstage because I don’t want anybody else dressing their furbabies. And it brings the doggie moms into the experience, too, so everybody is having fun.”
Morgan Avila owns four Leonbergers. Magneto (above) was a winner at Westminster. She is teaching him rat hunting. “It is finding rats in barns and being able to chase and corner them so that they can be collected and given to the proper authorities who like taking rats,” she said, adding that another of her Leonbergers, Mr. America, “does a lot of movies. He did ‘The Equalizer’ with Denzel Washington. He’s also done plenty of theater work, ‘Annie,’ ‘Peter Pan,’ ‘Oliver Twist,’ ‘The Miracle Worker,’ ‘A Christmas Carol.'” Her dog Hollywood, a dock diver, travels with Avila to many states where he wins AKC titles. “All of my dogs are champions in the AKC.”
Avila said that Rubio made a special outfit for Magneto to walk down the runway tonight, “but I didn’t get to see it yet. I have to get to wardrobe.” She smiled and waved goodbye as she and Magneto hurried into the already-canine-crowded elevator.
“My Boston Terrier Rita had been kept in a crate for five months in a hoarding situation until I I rescued her, and now Rita is modeling,” Patrice Scalera shared. “I trained her and desensitized her so she’d be comfortable around people, and now she is, and she’s signed up with a talent agency, All Creatures Great and Small. She’s obedience trained, and we do trick training now. I also just rescued a Frenchton named Francis.”
I learned that a Frenchton is half “Frenchie” [French Bulldog] and half “Boston” [Boston Terrier]. “Dog fashion designer Ada Nieves always laughs when we have them both in the show,” Scalera said. “She sees Francis and Rita playing, and it’s like a comedy routine. You can’t tell who is cuter.”
Scalera runs a small home-based business. “It’s called PAWfect Dog Beds,” she said. “If I get $35 dollars on a bed, I then give $5 dollars towards animal rescue.”
Ilene Zeins said she and her ZZ will be attending the upcoming “Strut Your Mutt” walk and the Ronald McDonald House “Family Fun Dog Walk.” In June, they went to the “Fabulous Fur-Baby Cotillion” in Florida. “We had a lot of fun,” Zeins said. “ZZ was a debutante and introduced to society; something I never had the opportunity to do [Laughs].”
Summer Strand goes to as many charity events as she can. She said the doggie community here in New York City is growing. “We’ve been a tightly knit group for years, but always welcome new, warm, friendly souls — two-legged and four-legged,” she explained. When I asked about her favorite rescues she said, “I think all rescues are awesome” before adding, “We love to help Waggin’ Tails Dog Rescue, Sean Casey Animal Rescue and Soi Dog Foundation.” Strand is a personal trainer. She goes to her clients’ homes and teaches them fitness moves they can do with their pet.
Dorri Olds is a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine.