Haute Dogs: Local Designers Will Take Dogs for a Walk … Down a Runway

Local designers have dressed dogs for Friday’s “Spooktacle” at Teatro Zuccone. Mr. T probably won’t be there, but Prince, Mary Queen of Scots, and Brave Sir Robin will be. Photo courtesy of Sasha Howell.
By Christa Lawler, Duluth News Tribune

Oliver will make his runway debut with three looks: the style of a Minnesota icon, rocker couture, and a famous fictional detective. Well, maybe. It’s impossible to predict how a mini dachshund might respond to, say, a purple cloak and wig.

“We’re hoping,” said Sasha Howell, the costume designer behind “Spooktacle: A Dog Fashion Show.” “No matter how much work we’re doing on marketing and building costumes, (it) could be a total disaster. People aren’t expecting high-class models. The mayhem is part of the draw of the event.”

Howell and artists Stephany Anderson, Laura Piotrowski, Dick Rosvall and Darryn Wallace have created costumes for dogs in the areas of couture, characters and historical figures for “Spooktacle,” a fundraiser for Renegade Theater Company and part of Zeitgeist’s Halloweek. It’s a follow up to Howell’s “Spectacle,” a 2014 fashion showcasing Victorian gowns, steampunk-wear, animal masks and Lisa Frank-ian themes. Of course, that show had human models.

“When I first started conceptualizing this, I was so nervous the rest of of the designers would be like ‘This is so dumb,'” Howell said.

Nope, not at all.

Piotrowski, costume shop supervisor at the University of Minnesota Duluth, has experience making costumes for her cats, like Santa Claus or even just a sundress.

“I have a little experience with trying to work with animals,” she said. “I thought it would be fun.”

For Friday’s show, she’s dressing a Newfoundland named Pippa as Mary Queen of Scots, complete with neck ruffles.

The hardest part, Piotrowski said, is working with animal bodies. It has to be “something that isn’t going to be too restrictive, but it’s got to fit well enough that they aren’t going to shake it off.”

Wallace usually makes costumes for musicians. He’s a member of The Fractals and has made shirts for his fellow rockabilly rockers and he created Western outfits for Dance Attic.

His current project is creating outfits for Wicklow (mixed breed, “good attitude”). For one, he’s channeled Monty Python. For the other, he’s offered an outfit that is comically redundant for a furry animal.

“This was fun to do something completely different and off the wall,” he said. “(Wicklow) loves the outfit. I did the final sitting and he just rolled over like ‘This is great.’ I think he loves the attention.”

IF YOU GO

What: “Spooktacle: A Dog Fashion Show”

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Where: Teatro Zuccone, 222 E. Superior St.

Tickets: $10 at zeitgeistarts.com

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