How a teacup Chihuahua became the queen of the catwalk.
Photos by Jeffrey C. Lim
Coco Chanel is a pet photographer’s dream come true: a tiny, very pretty Chihuahua who loves the camera. She’s a darling with an uncanny talent for showing her best angles, and a charmer of people who want to take selfies or groufies with her. She’s even got a trademark look: posing inside a frame, sometimes riding a little car, or with a little parasol completing her ensemble.
Fashionable from the Start
According to her proud papa, Adrian Stephen Cabuhat, she’s a natural at this. And she enjoys it immensely, too, especially when there’s a new outfit or accessory to display. “She loves to fit new outfits, and it’s like she’s smiling when she wears them,” he says proudly. “She’s always excited every time she sees any of her very fashionable pet bags—when she knows she is going out, or will be competing that day, she automatically goes inside.”
That excitement pays off handsomely for Coco and Adrian, as 2-year-old Coco has won numerous dog pageant and fashion shows from the very start of her career. 2016 was a banner year as she won or placed highly in pageants like Miss Unifers, where she won Best in Evening Gown, and in Manila’s Biggest Dog Festival where she trotted off with Most Pawpular at the Pets At Work Pawshion Show. She’s also made appearances on TV and radio with Kwentuhang Pets Atbp. and AGRITV. She’s modeled for Bow House and Arf Arf Love, and at the beginning of 2017 was already a headliner at the Beat Cancer benefit concert and fashion show, rubbing doggy elbows with (human) fashion models and indie rock musicians.
So at three months old, little Coco became part of the family, running happy and free inside his condo together with his other pets. “She was loved by my cats since day one,” he says, fondly. And day two saw Adrian and his new baby already competing in a dog fashion show, winning Runner Up: Best Dressed Female Dog.
“Chihuahuas are among the top breeds of dogs that get along well with cats,” Adrian explains. It’s also to his advantage that Chihuahuas are tiny—not only do they fit well into a condo living lifestyle, for Adrian, they’re also very easy to make costumes for and to dress up. And they fit nicely into a pet carrier bag, too, making it easy for them to take public transportation, especially as Cocois extremely well-behaved.
WHEN FUR MEETS FASHION
Adrian recognized a kindred fashionista spirit in Coco, who is a wonderful, biddable blank slate for ideas that come to him. It helps that she’s a tiny, cuddly thing, too.
“Her first (evening) gown, I did overnight,” he recalls. “I hand-sewed it and made a matching headdress and small fan, too.” She goes to fashion shows fully accessorized with bags, fans, and tiny umbrellas, and occasionally a small car (or a motorcycle, once), and even a tiny Cinderella carriage. Adrian creates costumes for Coco that are in keeping with whatever theme the show calls for, making sure to add something different or unexpected each time.
Adrian has also collaborated with other pet designers in creating Coco’s outfits, and it’s not surprising that Coco can have as many as three costume changes per show. Pet designers like Sanchia De Asis of Petnannies in Davao, Roberth Azaph Gallardo of Modelo Icons, Mark Anthony Abalos from Baguio, and Nina Sharlene Briones of JOOAK (Just One Of A Kind) has provided some of Coco’s more colorful outfits and accessories.
Adrian makes sure that the weight of the ensemble is just right for Coco, and takes pains to ensure her comfort above all else. “When I dress up my cats and dogs, I still don’t forget the fact they are not humans,” he says. When the fashion shows are outdoors, he removes their clothes immediately because the heat (especially for the cats) can be stressful. “Winning is just a bonus but the comfort of our pets should always be the top priority.”
This appeared in Animal Scene magazine’s June 2017 issue.