The Friars of Beverly Hills hosted a very special fashion show on a recent Friday afternoon. World-renowned tattoo artist Don Ed Hardy had teamed up with former Von Dutch designer Christian Audigier to launch a clothing line for a very specific client base — a four-legged, furry, tail-wagging client base. If you thought baby bling was bitchin’, hold on to your bedazzled hat, ’cause 2006 is the Year of the Dog.

Nothing gets a party started like a pink Maltese, and that’s why Kitty and Kisses, an owner/pet combo outfitted head to tail in pink, sashayed down the runway first. The only holdup in their march toward haute couture fame came when Kisses stopped to scratch itself. When asked how Kisses’ coat achieved its dazzling hue, Kitty dished that “McCormick red food coloring worked best.”

Later in the show, a dead ringer for the Super Hot Giant Alien from Dude, Where’s My Car? strutted out. Her pintsize Chihuahua trailed at her stiletto heels, and the buxom blonde threatened to skewer her dog with every step.

The best had to be the massive Great Dane and its sexy little owner. She sauntered out in skintight jeans and a tiny tank, while her pooch sported a pair of sweats, a T-shirt and a trucker hat. Seeing the massive beast in a normal human getup was as appealing as it was bizarre. He looked less like a dog than a really cool dude taking a stroll with a hot chick.

After dog-man lumbered off the catwalk, Kitty and Kisses trotted out again, presumably to bring the show full circle. But then the second model came out again.

“What are they doing?” whispered the man next to me.

“Looks like they’re coming out in new outfits,” I explained.

“But they look exactly the same!”

True, that. The canine couture was cute enough, but it was all virtually identical. In a failed attempt to disguise this fact, the stylists piled as many garments as possible onto each pooch. Inexplicably, one dog even had a pair of Don Ed Hardy shoes dangling from its neck.

A mediocre dog trick or two later, the show was mercifully over . . . or so we thought.

An enthusiastic producer informed us that we’d been such a “great audience” that he wanted to capture a few of our “great audience” reactions again. It became clear we wouldn’t be allowed to leave until he got some good background clips. He prompted us with hypothetical scenarios, cuing us that “something super funny just happened,” and “a really cute one has just come out,” or “somebody has just performed a very impressive trick.”

A clump of actress types in the front row perked up at the improv exercise; finally, a chance to put all those costly acting lessons to use! They performed elaborate stage whispers, poked one another gaily, and pointed at imaginary, but apparently adorable, dogs. A woman whose Botoxed forehead did not permit her to express sufficient excitement whipped out her disposable camera and snapped the invisible dog.

“Isn’t he precious?” she cooed.

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