by MIKE CHAIKEN
Human beings have Chanel and Calvin Klein. And dogs have Janelle Funari.
The New York City based fashion designer traveled south to Tennessee on Dec. 4 to show the well-dressed canines in Nashville the latest styles. Funari held a dog and human runway show in the Bobby Hotel that benefited the Nashville Humane Association.
“I decided to create the event as I wanted to do something for charity, number 1, for the holiday,” said Funari said. Plus, the designer said she “wanted to do something for my clients to bring both the dog and model community together.”
Funari said she decided to hold the show in Nashville because she fell in love with the city after a visit during the summer.
Plus, she said, as a New York City-based designer, COVID-19 has had a seriously negative effect on her business in Gotham. She had to skip New York Fashion Week twice because of the vaccine mandates implemented in New York.
“It’s too much stress,” said Funari.
The Nashville show was opened by Mark Riccadonna (who emceed) and Don Jamieson. The show was led by musicians Onoleigh and Noah the Fiddler.
The connection was a random one with the musicians, said Funari. “I met Onoleigh in A street in Nashville while visiting the city. Serendipity.” Noah was introduced to the designer through Onoleigh.
The fashion show was a fundraiser for the Humane Society in Nashville. The money will be used to feed the animals and help the organization rescue dogs in the streets and dogs found in poor conditions across Tennessee.
“My passion is to help animals,” said Funari. “They have no voice and no choice– and I believe they are God’s creatures.”
Funari said she has a large following among the dog community across the country. So, it was easy to find her canine models. In addition, she said, “We had tons of rescues in show. We are open to all types of animals to join our shows.”
The human models also were drawn from Funari’s social media followers.
Funari’s Nashville canine runway show was not a one off for the designer. She has been designing for dogs for a number of years.
“When I got my doggy Maxine, she was curvy and I could not find any clothing for her,” said the designer. “She was cold and needed clothing to go out to walk in streets of New York City. I started making clothing for my runway shows for her and a few other local pups and my shows have expanded ever since.”
Sometimes, the dog fashions come first and then she uses that for inspiration for her human designs. Sometimes. the human fashions come first and then she “dog-ifies” them.
“I do have commission work for the Maxine line for birthday parties or events,” said Funari. “But the Maxine Avenue NYC line did begin when I had left over fabrics from FUNARI runway collection that I wanted to recycle and I felt this was most sustainable way to grow my business.”
The biggest challenge of designing for pups “is getting the perfect fit… Not all dogs are alike, so we have to get tons of measurements to be successful.”
“Stretch materials help us out,” said Funari.
As for preferred breeds, Funari said she started out fitting French bulldogs. “We nailed the fit for them,” said Funari. “We have a very large Frenchie following.”
“But we have made clothing now for almost all of the dog breeds now,” said Funari. “We recently expanded into the large breeds, which is so much fun.
“All dogs need to be fashionable,” said Funari.
For information, visit MaxineAvenueNYC.com or JanelleFunariNewYork.com.
PHOTOS by JEREMY HARRIS