Thanks to Hector Browne, I enjoyed modest success during Paris Fashion Week as a street-style star. In 30 years of covering shows this has never happened before — photographers rushing up to snap my picture as I trudged up the steps of the Grand Palais, some even murmuring, “So cute!”
Of course, I knew the paps weren’t interested in me; they were interested in my style surrogate, a furry, 18-inch-long bag that bore an uncanny resemblance to a wirehaired dachshund, in every way — same rough coat, short legs, adorable expression of canine sufferance — except in one obvious detail. My little guy came with handles.
I got the idea to bring Hector to Paris after seeing him in Thom Browne’s show in New York. Thom owns the real Hector, on whom a litter of wiener-dog bags (is that nice to say?) was modeled. Since I’m not a bag person — a Vuitton wallet suffices most days — I viewed fake Hector more as a sidekick than as an accessory. And I was curious to see how people would react to a childlike object that, though partially stuffed, was not a toy. (A zipper runs from his collar to his tail, and inside there’s room for your things.) I knew I could never affect the right Parisian élan — like the young woman who passed me on a scooter with a small (and real) whippet poised on the floorboard between her bright-red patent-leather stiletto boots — but I enjoyed the idea of taking him around with me, almost as if I were concocting a little a story: “Hector in Paris.”
Almost nothing went as I’d expected. For one thing, taking Hector places required coordination — mainly of my look. After his first big show — Maison Margiela at the Grand Palais — he apparently went viral, so as his handler I had to pay closer attention than usual to my outfit, hair, and sunglasses. Also, Hector produced such an array of reactions, from joy and amusement to mild horror, that I found myself laughing like an idiot. Actually, someone on Twitter said I looked like I’d never had my picture taken, and that was pretty much true.
I loved Hector, dearly, but he was making me feel a little nerdish and self-conscious; and he was work.
“Where’s Hector?” someone asked the next day. “Did you bring him? He’s a star on Instagram.” Hector, Hector, Hector.
“It’s raining,” I answered. Or, lying, I said, “He’s asleep.”
At the Balenciaga show, last Sunday, I tucked Hector under my arm, like a real dog, and went backstage to get a quote from the new designer, Demna Gvasalia. We waded through a throng of people to reach Demna, and you know what he said?
Hector met Karl, Phoebe, Raf. In the Chanel studio, Amanda Harlech and Charlotte Stockdale made a terrific fuss over him, talking in funny voices; and I wondered if we might see a furry Choupette bag at Chanel soon (Choupette, of course, is Karl’s cat, who this season inspired some diamante pins). At Givenchy, an Italian journalist asked if she could take Hector’s picture, and then she shared a photo of her real dog.
I loved the reaction of regular Parisians on the street, especially children and young men. Women in their 20s or early 30s, I found, often looked at Hector quite critically (or did they want a Hector of their own?). But the men saw the charm and silliness in him. “Le chien est très mignon!” Or, “très jolie!” I would smile and laugh along. Sometimes people said things I didn’t understand, that were beyond my French, and I would just answer: “Merci!”
But my favorite reaction was from a young female photographer outside the Céline show, at the Tennis Club de Paris. Hector and I had just come from lunch at a nearby café (you can probably see it on Instagram), and she asked, “Where did you buy him?” When I started to say that he was a show dog, a loaner, she said, “Did you make him?” As ghoulish as it sounds, several people seemed to think that Hector was the product of taxidermy rather than fashion.
But what’s the difference? He warmed people’s hearts. He’s sitting under the desk in the hotel as I write this.
“It’s real,” the editor Carlyne Cerf de Dudzeele, a great dog lover, said before the start of the Chanel show. She stroked Hector’s soft brown head. “C’est genie. It’s not like it’s fake. It’s real.”
Most Viewed Stories
I Retired at 38. Here’s What I Didn’t Expect.
My Year of Living Like My Rich Friend
What Salary Should I Ask For? How to Figure Out Your Worth.
A Deep Dive Into Cara Delevingne and Ashley Benson’s Relationship
Unpacking the Stoicism of Michael Jackson’s Victims
Kylie Jenner Is Now Officially a Billionaire
Dreaming About an Ex? An Expert Explores 20 Reasons Why
Finally, a Denim Line that Looks Good and Goes Up to Size 40
I Can’t Wait to Read the Wikipedia Page for Midsommar
‘I’m a Pathetic Loser Who Can’t Stop Procrastinating!’
The Cut’s Latest Fashion FeaturesCiara's Wedding Dress Was Too Big for the Chapel
To be fair, it was a 13 foot-long dress.You and Rihanna Will Both Want to Invest in Dior’s New Bag
It's got something for everyone.Polo Shirts Have Turned Their Back on Ryan Lochte
Along with his other major sponsors.Ryan Lochte Will No Longer Be Paid to Wear Tiny Bathing Suits
Speedo remains committed to transparency.Laura Brown Is the New Editor-in-Chief of InStyle
After 11 years at Harper’s Bazaar.Tyra Banks Is Going to Teach a Class on Smizing at Stanford
"If I see somebody not paying attention, I’m gonna call on them."This Floating Pier Is the Most Zen Installation Ever
Walking on water in Italy.Nation Is Appalled by Matt Lauer’s Nude Ankles During Ryan Lochte Interview
What’s the opposite of “Jeah”?8 People at the Life of Pablo Pop-up Explain Why Kanye West Is a God
"I mean, Kanye West is just Kanye West. There's not more or less you can say about Kanye West. He's just Mr. West!"A T-shirt Is Enough
Simplicity, versatility, and cool. What more could you want?
She took a perfect pencil dive off a 30-foot yacht.American Apparel Is Being Sued by Former Workers
As the company considers putting itself up for sale.A Gendered History of the Tailored Suit
From Marlon Brando to Coco Chanel.How Zendaya Developed Such Great Style at the Young Age of 19
The star's best looks from Disney to now.Proof That If You’re Chic Enough, a Little Federal Investigation Doesn’t Matter
Is this the best they could do?5,300-Year-Old Mummified Iceman Probably Would’ve Been a Street-Style Star
He had several different looks and was “pretty picky.”J.Crew Has Identified 226 Shades of Pink
Even more than there are shades of gray.Gigi and Bella Hadid Merch Is Now Somehow a Thing That Is Happening
Today in Hadidiana.Gird Your Loins for the Return of Yeezy to New York Fashion Week
The season approaches.This Indie Brand Had a Great Response to Ivanka Trump
When she bought one of their cuffs, they donated the proceeds to the Clinton campaign.