Fashion to the rescue

Dogs participated in the Iowa Fashion Project to show off their lookings and raise awareness for rescue adoptions.

Kristina Rosebrook

Anjali Huynh, Print Managing Editor, Co-Copy Editor

What began as a collaboration between the Iowa Fashion Project (IFP) and Friends of the Animal Center Foundation (FACF) became a reality, as twelve dogs gathered on Dec. 16 to make their debut entrance in a foreign location – the runway.

Called “Fashion to the Rescue,” this show was held at the Iowa River Landing as a way to raise money for the Iowa City animal shelter, bringing in designers from IFP to design outfits for the dogs to model. 

“This is the first time that we’ve done a fashion rescue show, so this is kind of exciting,” said Liz Ford, an organizer for the show. “We kind of rushed through trying to get everything ready so we could have the show ready before the cold weather set in but I’d say it’s been [in the works for] a couple of months. We’ve been trying to get dogs from the shelter to be fashion models in order to shine a spotlight on why you should adopt.”

Mayor of Coralville John Lundell emcees the fashion show

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), there are around 13,600 animal shelters nationwide providing shelter to close to 3.9 million dogs every year. While around 35 percent of the dogs found are adopted, 31 percent habituating in these shelters are euthanized, further emphasizing the need to adopt.

Though none of the dogs that participated are current residents of the shelter, all of the models were dogs that had come from there and since been adopted. An example of this is Lily, a Great Pyrenees and lab mix who was abandoned near Hickory Hill Park and later adopted by Jan Soboroff.

“We got Lily at the shelter … in the late part of August,” Soboroff said. “[FACP] asked us if we would be interested [in participating] since we had done a recent adoption, and we said, ‘Sure, anything to raise money for the Friends of the Animal Shelter.’ We’ve always been really supportive. Every dog and cat we’ve had has been a rescue. [Lily’s] just a good dog.”

Soboroff believes that this show was a great way to spread information to people about what they’re investing in when they choose to get a pet.

“My husband and I really feel strongly about people … being really aware that when you take a pet, it’s a forever experience,” she said. “We know that [a pet’s] life expectancy is a lot shorter than ours [and] I understand that sometimes it’s necessary to get rid of a dog or a cat, but when it happens frequently, I have a real problem with that.”

Although the dogs were the real stars of the show, much credit goes to those behind the scenes designing for the animals. The designers from the IFP spent several weeks designing outfits for these dogs, and for many of the designers, the designer-dog relationship has been strictly business related. However, for Andre Wright, designer of Born Leaders United, the connection is more personal, as he was able to design for his own dog, Gavin.

“We got Gavin about two years ago from the Iowa City shelter,” Wright said. “I don’t know a whole lot about his story, other than he was wandering in the Johnson County out in the outer areas of Johnson County and then they fou

Lily, a Great Pyrenees and lab mix, waits to walk the runway

nd him.”

Designing for his own dog has been an amazing experience for Gavin and given him a chance to show off his furry friend.

“[We have] a father-son relationship, you know,” he explained. “I try to make sure that he is loved and he is respected around the house. I wanted to give him a chance to shine. I’m always in the spotlight when it comes to doing fashion, but this really is all about Gavin.”

Overall, the show was declared a success for designers and dogs alike and is hoped to become a recurring event in future years. For further information on how to help get involved with the shelter or donate and help the animals there, visit