Theme: Fashion & Art History
Talk Time: 20 Minutes
Title: Dandy Dogs: Fashionable Canines and Canines as Fashion in Victorian Britain
In 1896 Strand Magazine boasted a feature on ‘dandy dogs’, focusing on the chic fashions that metropolitan canines were donning at the time.
Imported from the finest boutiques in Paris these canine fashions were highly sought after in the Dogs Toilet Club in New Bond Street—a place where fashionable owners would go to decorate their pampered pets in the latest luxury wear.
However, although dogs were the subjects of fashionable attire in this Strand article it was much more common that canines themselves were used as a fashionable object.
With the rise of the dog fancy in the Victorian period dogs began adorning the arms of many affluent middle class owners as well as representing them in the show ring. Dog shows gave owners a chance to demonstrate the aesthetic excellence of their living accessories, who came to astutely represent their owner’s status, wealth, and own purity of breeding.
In these developments the visual nature of the canine played a significant part in defining the fashionable elements of the canine fancy. Dandy dogs had to be displayed and seen in order to fully represent their owner’s status and visual culture was heavily incorporated as part of this process.
My talk will explore the visual employment of the dog as a piece of living fashion in the Victorian period, proposing that the dog’s heavily developed class connotations helped make them a socially charged icon of contemporary Victorian fashions.