The Dog Owner
Pro photos courtesy of Eric Gaurkee, and modeled by my talented and adorable classmate, Miki.
“The Dog Owner” was a realization of one of my designs for the Apparel I Duality project. This project focused on communicating two opposing ideas in one garment – in my case, domestic versus wild. For this piece, I focused on the role control and trust play in the relationship between people and their pets. I also thought about human perception of pets in opposition to their pets’ natural disposition as animals.
To convey this idea, I did a different take on the poodle skirt. Instead of a poodle on the skirt, I hand-embroidered a German Shepherd wearing a muzzle, with a detachable leather dog leash. I chose the German Shepherd for its reputation as a big, tough, and potentially dangerous dog. The wearer can “walk” their dog, or choose to “let it loose” by detaching the dog leash. This shows how owners try to exert varying amounts of control over their animals. The idea of control is also apparent in the tailored jacket’s closures and sleeves. The jacket closes with clasps similar to those found on dog leashes, and features full sleeves bound at the elbow layered underneath constricting cap sleeves.
The sleeve bindings and the stand-up collar mimic a dog’s collar. The jacket is made of wool with a brown and camel hounds tooth pattern, and features coat tails. These elements represent human adaptation of animal features. To show animal features, I used wool with a fur-like pattern for the underside of the jacket collar, the waistband of the skirt, and part of the body of the German shepherd. The tulle underskirt also provides an “untamed” edge, in juxtaposition to the crisp hem of the woolen skirt.
Bringing my design to life required extensive flat patterning, a bit of draping, tailoring, and detailed hand-embroidery. I flat-patterned the double-breasted jacket bodice with princess seams, collar, layered sleeves, and circle skirt. I draped the coat tails. Once I made a muslin version of the jacket, I fit it to my model and made it out of fashion fabric, interfacing almost every piece. After another fitting, I lined the jacket. I saved the embroidery for last. I made hundreds of tiny stitches in varying colors to mimic fur, a texture noticeable even from the runway and truly appreciated up close.
Here I am with my gorgeous model, Melissa, backstage at the Selvedge Fashion Show. She brought my idea to life, “walking” the dog down the runway, then detaching the leash and giving a dramatic twirl.
Here’s my fashion illustration that I followed as I constructed the outfit: