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Stylish Canines Own the Runway at Fashion Week El Paseo

Le Chien event showcases furry models and vibrant Victor Tung Couture to raise funds for Animal Samaritans.

Joan McKenna Current Digital, Fashion & Style, Fashion Week El Paseo, Watch & Listen - Fashion Week

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Victor Tung designs playfully work well with their canine companions during Le Chien Sunday night at Fashion Week El Paseo.
PHOTOGRAPH BY GARY BINDMAN

Sunny skies and balmy temps were the perfect backdrop for the main event at day two of Fashion Week El Paseo: a vibrant, upbeat Le Chien show that saw perfectly paw-dicured pets walk the runway side by side with couture-clad models to benefit Animal Samaritans’ no-kill shelter, rescue, and adoption programs.

Canines in fluffy dresses and festive St. Patrick’s Day outfits joined their poshly attired people for a pre-show cocktail hour and silent auction before making their way indoors to enjoy custom wearable art from San Francisco–based fashion designer and animal lover Victor Tung.

“The show is great,” Tung says. “I love dogs. I’ve always had dogs, ever since I was a kid, so I’m so happy to join this event.”

Inside on the runway, Animal Samaritans CEO Tom Snyder kicked off the fashion paw-ty by asking how many attendees were pet owners—and almost every hand in the 800-strong capacity crowd shot up. After showcasing AnSams work, including its 40-year history in the Coachella Valley, its humane education programs and low-cost spay/neuter work, Snyder introduced a short video about Cleo, a tri-pawed dog AnSams rescued from neglect and nursed back to health

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PHOTOGRAPH BY YASIN CHAUDHRY

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PHOTOGRAPH BY GARY BINDMAN

Jeff Hocker (above) and Bryan Gallo patrticipate in the “superhero supermodels” portion of Le Chien with their canine sidekicks.

Introducing the first set of “superhero supermodels” — local notables and veterans of the Men of the Desert fall fashion show and their au naturel furry sidekicks — Snyder encouraged everyone to “enjoy the beautiful people, the beautiful clothes, and the beautiful dogs.”

Strolling to Aerosmith’s “Walking the Dog,” Don Genhart led the way in a tux and a cowboy hat, escorted by Danny Boy and QT. Hot on his heels was Brad Fuhr with freshly coiffed Buddy the Wonder Dog, followed by Chihuahua Baby and sunglasses-clad Jeff Hocker, who struck fun poses to loud applause. Dachshund Wilamena rocked an on-point metallic collar next to Robert McCarthy; Bryan Gallo (in a smart floral suit) and spaniel Rocky earned catcalls and wolf whistles from the enthusiastic onlookers.

Tom Scaramellino and Wyatt got into the holiday spirit with green accessories, while Antun Barbato closed the segment with adorable Dalmatians Bibiddi and Bobiddi paw-sing to pose at the end of the runway for treats.

Moments later, models clad in elegant Victor Tung Couture hit the runway with their own pets to the pounding beat of Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way,” Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love,” and Cee Lo Green’s “Forget You.” Canine companions ranged from tiny to titanic, including a beagle, a wolfhound, a white poodle with fluffy fuchsia ears, and a scene-stealing, leash-free, long-haired Chihuahua who worked the crowd like a pro, lapping up the adulation.

Highlighting his roots as a street artist, Tung’s show felt bold and optimistic, spotlighting sunny yellows, shimmering metallics, colorful sequins, and trendy transparency like see-through organza jackets. Different textures combined to show diverse canvases for Tung’s vision.
Leading the pack were bright, sleeveless mini and midi dresses, some brightly printed or sequined. A silver pouf mini offered a floral print top, while a sleek midi featured Robert Indiana’s iconic pop art LOVE image and a transparent organza jacket.

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PHOTOGRAPH BY GARY BINDMAN

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PHOTOGRAPH BY YASIN CHAUDHRY

Next up were metallic crop pants, printed leggings, and vibrant tops and jackets that mixed colors and textures; Tung’s homage to fellow artists continued, with the word “Basquiat” appearing on vests and jackets.

More formalwear offerings included bold prints, sequined or poufy skirts, ornate jackets, black-and-yellow plaid, and glistening metallic sheaths.
The show capped with a cotton candy confection of a dress featuring a pink shredded tulle skirt and a shimmering fitted metallic bodice, set off with a white, somewhat see-through jacket.

The crowd leaped to its feet as one at the show’s conclusion, roaring its approval as Tung made his way down the catwalk carrying a dog (not his, but he said, “I want to keep it!”). He was joined post-show by his fabulously styled wife Alice and daughter Ellen, and they mingled with fans.

Meet Victor Tung and get a personal consultation today from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. during his trunk show at the Reception Tent

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PHOTOGRAPH BY GARY BINDMAN

Designer Victor Tung, a Project Runway alumnus, will be selling his designs at today’s trunk show.

Tonight’s runway event features spring/summer 2019 collections from El Paseo’s fashion-forward stores and Porsche Design. The cocktail party starts at 6:30 p.m. and the fashion show begins at 8 p.m.

VIDEO: Watch Le Chien from start to finish here. For livestreams of every runway show, go to palmspringslife.com/livestream. Visit fashionweekelpaseo.com for tickets and more information.