You never know what treasure lies just around the corner. Such was my meeting with Mary Hone, a gifted designer of Native American dog fashion. I met Mary at an industry conference; we both have blogs in the dog space. Mary leads an interesting life. She, with her husband, Al (also an artist), and their two dogs, Roxy, a Pomeranian/Chihuahua mix and Torrey, a miniature Australian Shepherd, gave up their home to travel the plains of America in a camper, living life to the fullest and documenting their adventures on Mary’s site, Tales from the Back Road.
I was introduced to Mary by Anne Maria Tafoya, a pretty fabulous gal and mom to the beautiful fashionista Pom, Sophia Loren. Sophia and Roxy were sporting two versions of this amazing beaded, suede vest, and I had to know who made it. Native American and tribal fashion has been trending on runways for two seasons, now. At Couture by Sophie, I’d designed a Navajo-inspired coat in a wonderful combination of pale pinks, peach, evergreens and yellows. But, I hadn’t seen such special beaded dog fashion as this. Once Mary and I got to talking, I learned she was a devoted student of Native American culture. She’s had an affinity for it since she was a little girl, growing up in Utah. And, while she began beading 25 or 30 years ago, it wasn’t until she met her current husband, that her interest was sparked anew.
In addition to beaded dog vests, Mary also designs beautiful beaded collars. I love matching dog/human fashion, and Mary made Sophie and I a matching collar and bracelet. Her workmanship is impeccable, and we love the soft colors she chose for Sophie!
When Mary wants to create a traditional Native American piece, inspired by those found in museums, she will refer to her extensive book collection and do research online on colors, patterns and how these pieces were made. It’s important for her to stay true to the intention and design behind each piece, because it all has meaning. What colors you choose can represent prominent themes in their way of life. Plains Indians were very fond of using blues and greens, representing the sky and Earth.
There’s even some intrigue behind the history of beading. Back in the 1800’s, the Venetians controlled the glass bead market and they wanted to keep it that way. They would coerce their workers, sometimes under fear of death, about divulging the secrets to creating these hand-made beads, each in itself a work of art. They were trade beads, so a secret in the wrong hands could cripple a business. Not everyone complied, as many of the beads ended up in Africa, where they were used to trade for slaves, amongst other things.
Cutie pie Roxy is the lucky recipient of much of Mary’s timeless fashion. The first thing she created for her was a buckskin caplet, called The Rondy Dog, that would fit over her harness. It’s rough around the edges, has pretty beading at the neckline and looks overall cool. Mary then designed the beaded jacket I fell in love with for Sophia Loren to take to a film festival in New Mexico, run by Robert Redford. Anne Maria and Sophia ended up giving that piece to Redford for his dog, and Sophia had to have one for herself, so Mary made another, designing one for Roxy with a floral beading pattern, at the same time.
I think one of the most fun aspects of reporting on pet fashion is discovering these interesting, incredible finds and being able to share them with you!
Is there a designer or piece of clothing you love love love? Tell me about it in the Comments below.
About Jody Miller-Young
As a designer of luxury dog apparel under the Couture by Sophie brand (www.couturebysophie.com), Jody Miller-Young brings her love of runway chic to the dog fashion arena. Her debut collection, The Icons, paying homage to fashion icons in music, created a small army of Couture by Sophie fans. Her passion for design and the desire to share her finds with others led her to create Bark and Swagger, the everything- dog-fashion-and-more site (www.barkandswagger.com). On Bark, Miller-Young offers tips, talks trends, writes reviews and conducts interviews with experts of interest in the dog world. She also covers the celebs we know and the dogs they love and devotes a regular column to shelter dogs and to the hero angels who advocate for them.