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Spots in the Spotlight

By: Marie Redding

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New York's spring fashion week made one thing quite clear: Animals are in – particularly Dalmatians.

As part of the run-up to the Nov. 2000 opening of the movie, "102 Dalmatians," Disney let loose a dog-themed fashion show featuring the famous spots.

After a preview of the movie, a troupe of kids ran, did cartwheels, and danced down the runway to the tune of the hip-hop club hit "Who Let the Dogs Out." They were all decked out in a movie-inspired line of children's clothes, including turquoise snakeskin print pants, faux Dalmatian fur coats, and jeans with Dalmatian print cuffs – not to mention furry Dalmatian Halloween costumes (for kids and grownups), complete with floppy ears and paws.

The funky downtown designer Betsey Johnson, who introduced a Girls' Collection, sent pre-teen models down the catwalk dressed like miniature versions of herself – all the way down to her trademark wild hair. One little punk rocker wore a hot pink and black wig, purple tutu, fishnet stockings and a pink T-shirt covered with Dalmatians. Another was in a bias-cut mid-calf length white chiffon dress with big black polka dots, cap sleeves and a 6-inch ruffle at the hemline. The super-cute outfits also included a racy tiger-striped miniskirt and faux Dalmatian fur dress, both with matching three-quarter length coats. "I always wanted to be a costume designer for films," says Johnson. "Working on the 102 Dalmatians Fashion Show has been a great opportunity for me to do that for a day!"

Later, Nicholas Graham, the whimsical designer who owns and runs Joe Boxer (and acts like Willy Wonka playing in his chocolate factory), came out wearing a coat made of stuffed Dalmatian toys. He had the most outrageous models, including one in a leopard print bra and boxer shorts covered in black feathers and a cardboard Eiffel Tower hat. The next model wore a bright blue wig to match her blue Dalmatian spotted bra and tutu, accessorized with a bright red Styrofoam fire hydrant on her head. Graham also made Dalmatian spots sexy, with burgundy and black satin shorts and matching tank top (for women). For men, there was a silver and black satin spotted robe.

An Entourage of Cruellas

The last part of the show was a tribute to Academy and Tony Award-winning costume designer Anthony Powell, who created the outrageous looks for both of the Dalmatian movies. An entourage of Cruellas came strutting out, all made up to look like Glenn Close's dog-hating character – with red lips, black and white hairdo's, and glamorous long cigarette holders – wearing costumes from the upcoming movie. There were gorgeously sequined gowns with feathers, big faux fur cape coats, and exaggerated houndstooth suits cinched tightly at the waist. Since Cruella De Vil is a designer in the movie, Disney wanted to re-create the "fashion show" scene for the real fashion press. Like traditional shows, this one even ended with a bride.

All of Graham's one-of-a-kind runway looks – as well as Johnson's Girls' outfits were sold later that fall at a Disney-sponsored auction on eBay. Proceeds were donated to Hour Children, the American Humane Society and Fashion Targets Breast Cancer. Disney Auctions presented by eBay sold off original props, costumes, and production renderings from the 102 Dalmatians movie, as well as a one-of-a-kind artist rendition of Mattel's Cruella collector doll and tickets to the world premiere of the film on Nov. 13 at New York's Radio City Music Hall.

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