Fuzzy Friends to walk in style

By Kayla Reeves

Baylor fashion students are designing animal outfits to help local dogs.

Fuzzy Friends Rescue, a nonprofit animal shelter in Waco, is holding its semi-annual fashion show May 4 at the Extraco Events Center.

Fuzzy Friends was founded by Betsy Robinson, a Baylor graduate and wife of Clifton Robinson, donor of Clifton Robinson Tower.

“The show will feature canine models with their human counterparts in tow,” Robinson said, and all proceeds from the event will go to the Angel Heart Medical Fund, which provides medical treatments for Fuzzy Friends residents. The shelter is no-kill, she said, and houses about 150 animals at all times.

“Most of the dogs in the show came from Fuzzy Friends, and we’re also featuring 12 dogs who are current residents to showcase in hopes of getting a new home,” Robinson said.

Jaynie Fader, lecturer of fashion merchandising and design, is having her class design some of the dogs’ outfits for the show.

“It’s another opportunity and skill set that our students can learn so they’re more marketable when they get out there. Through the recession, fashion is one of the only industries that grew instead of getting smaller,” Fader said. “Plus, we feel like it’s for a good cause. We always try to tie our work to some kind of community service.”

Grapevine freshman Makenzie Hagestad is a student in Fader’s class. She said most people do not realize animal clothing is a huge part of the apparel industry, so this could give the students good experience for the future.

“It’s hard because none of the dogs are the same size. With the measurements they give you, you can try to make a garment that fits perfectly, but without doing multiple fittings, it’s not going to work right,” Hagestad said.

It’s also a different type of design than what the apparel class normally does, Hagestad said. Since it’s for a runway show, the outfits have to have a lot more pizzazz to draw attention to a tiny dog and be visible from a distance, she said.

Fader has been helping the class with the project for several weeks.

“We’ve been talking about it and planning since the first day of class,” Fader said. “They’ve been sketching ideas and researching and refining sketches over and over.”

Students are focusing on the grand finale scene, which is a surprise based on a classic movie, Betsy Robinson said, but the show will include several other scenes.

“There’s going to be beach and resort-wear and a formal bridal scene with a handmade couture dress made by Mrs. Fader. It’s going to be adorable,” she said.

Fader said other outfits for the show are coming from previous years, personal friends of Betsy Robinson and another Baylor graduate’s senior fashion collection, which fits the theme of the finale.

The event will be catered by Eddie Deen with a salad bar, stuffed mushrooms, quesadillas, a chocolate fountain and much more, Betsy Robinson said. There will also be auctions with extravagant prizes, including $1,000 shopping sprees, trips to Las Vegas and New York City, and Texas Rangers tickets.

“If you like dogs, good food and a good laugh, this is the event for you,” Betsy Robinson said, “Men and women alike will enjoy it, and kids love it.”

Hagestad said she thinks it’s a unique way to showcase the animals.

“This is a fun and different way to draw attention to the dogs,” Hagestad said, “and it’s cool how we as Baylor get to be involved.”

Betsy Robinson said the goal is to encourage people to adopt rather than buy.

“We get wonderful animals from mixes to designer to purebreds,” she said. “People have the misconception that they can’t find great animals in shelters, and it’s just not true.”

Fader agreed, saying she could not believe how wonderful and well-behaved the dogs are.

Tickets are still available on the Fuzzy Friends website, but must be bought in advance.

General admission is $65, but raffle ticket costs can be added, Robinson said. The money will go to treat anything that is curable, including heartworms, broken bones, surgeries and skin issues, she said.