May 10, 2006

Pugs are the newest fashion accessory

Which means chihuahuas are out.
Packs of the little flat-faced canines are showing up in advertisements for Barneys New York, in the windows of Neiman Marcus in Beverly Hills, in the arms of celebrities such as Jessica Alba and Balthazar Getty and fashion designers Valentino and Tommy Hilfiger, and not incidentally, in this year's best of breed winner's circle at the Westminster Dog Show. Mimi la Rue even has her own loyal fans on Spelling's new VH1 show, "So NoTORIous."

The pug's place at the stiletto heels of fashion's discerning tastemakers has reaffirmed the ancient breed's everlasting appeal. It's as if fashion is saying, "Pugs, this is your moment — and try not to drool."

Simon Doonan, Barneys creative director, says pugs are "very jolie-laide." That's a French term for a woman who is oddly attractive though not conventionally beautiful. And that, says Doonan, "is very much what is happening in fashion right now." In canine-themed display windows that pay homage to customers who shop with their dogs, Neiman's currently features pugs — fiberglass ones — in the prominent position at Wilshire Boulevard and Roxbury Drive. Two pugs are leashed via matching gem-and-gold-link necklaces to a mannequin wearing Dolce & Gabbana shades, a Marni trench coat, an Yves Saint Laurent sweater set and Tuleh cropped pants — all the best names. (Let's not even start with the owners-who-look-like-their-dogs comparisons.)

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