LUXURYCULTURE.COM - Dogging the Design

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Dogs are ultimate extensions of style, as the luxury pet apparel and accessories market is booming with chic design and catered canine care.

Worldwide, and with particular frenzy in Japan, owners dote on their canine companions, with beauty and fashion imperatives that have created a market of must-haves for the little ones.

Nothing will make the heart melt or the wallet open faster than a pleading pair of puppy eyes. With specialty services, fashionable detailing and overall style statements that rival what owners may do for themselves and their children, dogs have got it good these days.

The annual Pet Fashion Week New York(http://www.petfashionweek.com/) recently produced the first and world's largest pet industry runway show in Tokyo, Japan – a necessary East-meets-West commercial encounter for a country where, Nihon Keizai Shimbun financial media reports, dogs currently outnumber children under the age of twelve. Roughly 13 million dogs constitute a $10 billion Japanese pet market, which has witnessed steady growth since 2000, with the most rapid surge surrounding pet services such as dog-sitting and dog rental services.
While Europe is a mature market for pet lovers - with prestigious leather goods maker Goyard(http://www.goyard.com/) dedicating a separate section to dogs in its flagship store in Paris and the pug dog collars of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor recently on UK auction for around $3,000 - America focuses more on encouraging the overall market, especially fashion and designer dog houses.

Dogs are not only a great place to funnel excesses of wealth, but also of style - and it need not necessarily be silly. Yvonne Borjesson, a Paris-based animal stylist and designer, says, "I absolutely don't want to ridicule the dog." She tries, instead, to focus on making dogs dignified complements to their chic owners.

As a global social phenomenon, dogs are renowned for reducing incidences of depression and lowering blood pressure with their unconditional companionship. On a health note for dogs, however, excessive fashion accessorizing and anthropomorphism can cause problems such as stress disorder, apathy and depression - requiring, then, of course, canine acupuncture, aromatherapy and massage or, for more serious cases, a consultation with behavorial psychologist Dr. Robert Mugford at the Animal Behaviour Center in the U.K. (http://www.companyofanimals.co.uk/abc.php)
Your average pup, however, is rather content to be treated like a king with a continued range of services and delicacies from pet manicures and a relaxing spa stay at Chateau Poochie(http://www.chateaupoochie.com/) in southern Florida, to foie gras dog biscuits at Paris's dog bakery Mon Bon Chien(http://www.mon-bon-chien-paris.com/) to brand-name dog strollers. Or go the way of trends in Japan and hold lavish weddings and birthday parties with made-to-measure cakes and kimonos, like those from Tokyo's Nahomilly dressmakers(http://www.nahomilly.com/).

Dogs are to be envied, perhaps, because they can possess extremes of character - such as finicky tastes, vanity, excessive neediness - that might be less tolerated in humans; we find, in fact, these traits rather charming in dogs. Considering that after years of cute companionship, dogs often resemble their owners, it is ever more compelling to make sure the pooches of our lives pout, prance and pounce with definitive style. They are, after all, beasts. But who said there couldn't be some beauty within the beast?

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