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Canine Couturiers Put On the Dog

June 18, 1987|JANE SUTTON | United Press International

BAL HARBOUR, Fla. — The Haut Dog canine couturier company has declared it no longer fashionable for dogs to gad about naked, let alone in something off the rack.

The Key Biscayne company will custom-fit Fido or Fifi in a gold lame bathing suit, satin lingerie or a striped dinner jacket with tails.

Jane Robles, one of the company founders, admits that spending $250 for a dog ensemble is "very, very frivolous."

"These are gifts for the dog and his owner who have everything. Our market is Bal Harbour people, Fifth Avenue people, Rodeo Drive people," Robles said. "Many of them are real dog lovers."

Haut Dog recently unleashed its line of pricey dog duds in a fashion show at Coco's Sidewalk Cafe in Bal Harbour. The restaurant was chosen because it offers a special menu for dogs to accommodate its wealthy, pooch-loving clientele. Leftovers are sent home in people bags.

Eight models on leashes displayed the 27-item line.

Tiffany, a white schnauzer, sported a rose silk bra with eight cups, a matching garter belt and ruffled lace cape with a $250 price tag. Elisha, a black schnauzer, modeled a green velvet smoking jacket designed "for the bone vivant."

Fur Coat, Jeweled Sweater

There is a "London Dog" khaki trench coat, a silver lame graduation gown and cap "for flea scholars" and even some fur coats, including a rabbit-fur cape worn over a pink jeweled sweater that went for $160.

"Haut pants," basically lame diaper covers, fashionably accommodate the bitch in heat and sell for $75.

The mutty models were well-bred. The only gaffe was committed by a little dog in a ruffled maid's costume with a tray of plastic sushi attached to her back. Blue plastic pooper scoopers took care of the faux paws .

Haut Dog was founded by Robles, an interior designer, and real estate agent Jane Ulloa of Key Biscayne, who have two dogs each and hope to turn the company into a thriving cottage industry.

Most of the sewing is done by Ulloa's mother, Jane Platt, in a spare bedroom in her Fort Lauderdale home.

"It started as a fluke," said Robles. "Jane's mom had made a sweater for the dog, and we were saying how cute it was. I said, 'The next thing you know we'll be designing dog clothes.' An hour later we had the whole line designed."

Prices range from $15 for a cotton jersey maternity T-shirt with the slogan "I Rolled Over for Rover," to $300 for an ivory silk wedding dress with beading and antique lace and a four-foot train. The gown is from the "Till Death Do Us Bark" line.

The clothing comes in four standard sizes--cocktail, ballpark, foot-long and jumbo--but custom orders are welcomed. The outfits are made with imported fabrics and come with full accessories: a white top hat and rhinestone cuffs with the black-striped wedding tuxedo; a jeweled turban with the Arabian Nights "hairem" pants.

'It's Fantastic'

The clothes fasten with hooks or Velcro and are open in the back.

"They do not have to be removed for their duties," Ulloa said.

The reaction from the 50 or so guests at the fashion show was enthusiastic.

"It's fantastic," said DeeDe Stroud of Miami Beach, who considered buying a jeweled sweater knit ensemble trimmed in boa feathers for her Yorkie. "Blue is her favorite color," she said.

Tootsie Migicovsky of Hollywood, Fla., also admired the line, but questioned the practicality of the fur coats.

"It's kind of warm here for those," she said.

Roble said her own pets enjoy putting on the dog.

"I was asking myself, 'Are we going to get calls from the Humane Society and letters from people telling us we were cruel?' But I tried them on my own dogs and they love nothing more than to get dressed up and look in the mirror. They are mesmerized when they see themselves," she said.

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