Jazz Age Hounds, perfect companions and fashion accessoryJuly 4, 2015
Jazz Age Hounds are both the perfect companions and, it turns out, the perfect fashion accessory. Don’t you find that hanging out with a greyhound confers the idea that you too are sleek and elegant? Or a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel: soft, fluffy and loveable.
Jazz Age Hounds
A pedigree lapdog has been the companion of emperors and princesses for hundreds of years, and even today they are a luxurious addition to a household. Today, most pedigree pup Jazz Age Hounds will set you back about £600, the price of a very nice handbag. In 1916 a Pekinese puppy, the height of chic, cost anything between $300 and $1,000 – about £4,200 – £14,200 in today’s money. A very luxurious accessory indeed.
And then as now, the cost of a lapdog lies not only in its purchase price but in an investment of time too; as Dorothy Parker explained in 1917: “No woman who owns that lily of the field, a pekinese, can be accused of selfishness; she simply hasn’t the time to think of herself. His Serene Highness demands unceasing attention.”
The monetary cost was because Pekinese Jazz Age Hounds were both extremely fashionable at the time, and very rare. 94 of the little dogs were entered into the first Pekinese show in America, held in the Plaza ballroom. Some of the dogs arrived at the display travelling in miniature Chinese pagodas on wheels, because if you’d laid out the price of a luxury car on your Jazz Age Hounds, you may as well let it travel in style.
Oriental Jazz Age Hounds were fashionable at the time because of the craze of Orientalism sweeping the Western world after the Ballet Russe dressed in Leon Bakst’s shimmering costumes inspired Paul Poiret’s turbans and harem pants, and Chanel’s a la Russe designs.
Heiress and art collector Peggy Guggenheim specialised in tiny, fluffy Lhasa Apso Jazz Age Hounds which originate in Tibet, owning 14 in her lifetime and calling them her babies. Chanel’s friend Misia Sert, “the heart of artistic and intellectual life” in Paris, according to Vogue had a Griffon, which are little lion headed lapdogs, and also a Sloughi, a supremely elegant and rare breed that looks much like a greyhound. Chanel made it a couture coat.
And then there were the outfits that these Jazz Age Hounds demanded. A modern woman may well own one of the new motor cars, and should she wish her dog to travel with her he must have an outfit to suit. The same as his mistress, he needed car goggles to protect his eyes, and a warm jacket too.
HP Scott in London’s Burlington Arcade supplied dog jackets monogrammed with the initials of the owner and lined in vicuña – a fabric finer, lighter and warmer than cashmere, a small amount of which is hand plucked from the rare wild animals only once every three years. Nothing but the best for one’s canine Jazz Age Hounds, you know.