Coco Chanel has been all over the country, gracing one fashion show and dog event after another, strutting her beautiful handmade gowns for the world to see. Photographers and fashion designers alike love her — she carries each outfit with poise that comes naturally to her.

It is no wonder that this teacup chihuahua has been making noise in the fashion industry, even among pet-shionistas in New York!

Recently, Coco Chanel went all the way to the city that never sleeps, turning heads as she earned her reputation as a rising runway diva. Adrian Stephen Cabuhat, her proud human, talked to Animal Scene about what it felt to be the first Southeast Asian representative in the G Girls Production 5th Annual International Cotillon, held in New York City on August 10 to 12, 2018.

Sleepless Nights

It wasn’t a smooth-sailing journey for Coco Chanel and Cabuhat to represent the Philippines in the Big Apple.

The official invite arrived late in June, giving Cabuhat and Coco Chanel barely two months to prepare for the big show. Cabuhat still had to schedule an appointment for passport renewal with the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Cabuhat said, “Yung passport ko mage-expire na pala ng October. Eh sabi ko hindi ko napansin dahil sa kaka-travel ko. (My passport was expiring in October. I didn’t notice because of my frequent travels). I [was] really about to lose hope.”

Luckily, there was one slot remaining and Cabuhat received his new passport immediately. He also managed to get an appointment for his US visa. He showed the US embassy consul a printed copy of a Facebook post by his sponsor, Saint Roche Premium Organic Dog Shampoo, which said, “With every bottle of shampoo you buy, you would help the Philippines fly to New York.”

The consul was moved by the post and immediately approved his visa application.

It was my first time to apply for a US visa. Tumutulo talaga yung luha ko (I was really moved to tears),” said Cabuhat.

Along with his passport and visa came Coco Chanel’s own passport from Petdentity.

“Parang ano ba ‘to, parang lahat right timing. Parang lahat nag-align talaga kahit di ako prepared. (It was as if everything was happening at the right time. It was as if [the stars] aligned even though I wasn’t prepared.)”

However, Cabuhat was still having second thoughts.

“I went to Baclaran Church and sabi ko (I said), Lord, give me a sign kung matutuloy pa ‘to (if this would still push through),” he said. “Tapos may maingay sa harapan kong [naka] costume. Yun pala si Tessa Prieto-Valdes! (Then, there was someone in a costume making noise in front of me. It turned out to be Tessa Prieto-Valdes!)”

Prieto-Valdes, with her outlandish outfits, symbolized Cabuhat and Coco Chanel’s love for everything related to fashion and runways, and the sight of her pushed them to go make a name for the Philippines.

Star of the Night

Coco Chanel and Cabuhat were the first Filipinos to join the 5th Annual International Cotillon organized by G Girl Productions.

The former surprised everyone with her national costume, which was made by Roberth Azaph Gallardo III. It was inspired by the Philippine national flag, accented with floral lace and Swarovski crystals. The symbolic three stars embedded in the butterfly sleeves were made of zirconia.

Lau Fernandez made the iconic crown. It was made of gold and copper wires, with the pattern of Swarovski crystals made to look like the sun of the Philippine flag. Pink cat’s eye stones and pink zirconia crystals were used for the sampaguita flower in its center.

On the second day, Coco Chanel wore a cotillion gown made by Sanchia De Asis of Petnannies. It was a Kadayawan-inspired hand-sewn gown, also made with Swarovski crystals.

A crochet bolero and panuelo was made by Nina Sharlene by Just One Of A Kind (JOOAK), wherein Cabuhat noted how touched and grateful he was when Sharlene used her mother’s gift necklace just to comply using original pearls.

Aiza Nicolas Cervo even made Coco Chanel a customized cloth diaper for the competition.

Cabuhat wore a black barong made by Edwin Uy.

With their outfits, both bagged third place in the competition.

“[It went well because] the audience became emotional. [They were asking], ‘What will you bring back to the Philippines?’” said Cabuhat.

“[I said], ‘This [third placer] medal and all your hearts.’”

They went home, medal in tow. They were meant to win; it was written in the stars.

This appeared in Animal Scene magazine’s January 2019 issue.