Q&A: April Montgomery, Organizer for the Dog Days of Summer Fashion Show

Owner of the boutique Suzani Styles, April Montgomery originated the idea for the Dog Days of Summer fashion show, an adoption benefit for the co-host, Young-Williams Animal Center, at the Bill Lyons Pavilion on Market Square Thursday, Aug. 22 at 7 p.m.

How'd you get the idea?

When I had the store in Nashville, which closed this spring, we did a similar event with dog models from an animal shelter there, and it was so much fun—dogs and shoes, and dogs being adopted, how could you go wrong?

How'd you choose your dog models?

We actually won't choose the adoptable dogs until a few days before the show. But we've also recruited some human models who have adopted dogs from Young-Williams, and they will walk with their owners. We didn't want to overwhelm the attendees with, "Wow, all those dogs need homes!" So some will be, "Look, that dog is already adopted and see how well that worked out, look how happy they all are!" We'll be telling the stories of the dogs that model, both the adoptable and those owned by the models, and we're going to have fun with the models, making them look like the dogs when possible. One of the dogs has a mohawk, for example, so guess what hairstyle the model will be wearing?

The dogs won't model shoes, will they?

That would be cute, but no. We will be introducing our new line of collars and leashes—the dogs will model those, and any dog adopted at the event will get a free Suzani collar. Each dog model will be paired with models in our boots and shoes, which are all designed from hand-stitched tapestries of suzani fabric—hand-stitched silk by artisans in the Middle East. I sell from two designers: Artemis—like the god—by Erkan Demir, which are more cowboy boots; and Zeyzani, which are more elegant, stiletto heels, over the calf and such. We also started our own line, and I'm the designer. I have a gentleman who goes all over Uzbekistan and Afghanistan and buys fabric, and we make boots from a mold that's in between knee high and mid-calf. Our line of boots are more affordable and every pair is custom, so they look dressy and fit, no matter how large your calves are! We won't actually be selling at the event, just introducing our new lines.

Why'd you branch into dog accessories?

One of our customers, she has maybe six to eight pairs of our boots—they're addictive once you start!—told me, "Wouldn't it be good to be able to match these with your dog's collar?" And we already had all these tapestry remnants from the boots we make. Of course, sometimes being matchy matchy is not as much fun, so we'll sell collars and leashes separately, too.

Do you own a dog?

I actually have a cat. I live in an apartment downtown, because I split my time between here and Carmel, Calif., and cats don't have to come with you—he's pretty independent. But there are tons of dogs that live downtown to inspire me. And I try to do community stuff with my store. I'd never turn down a chance to help if it involves fashion.

To learn more about the show or Young-Williams, visit young-williams.org.