Dog turns out to be designer's best friend

CeCe Cord designs deluxe products for privileged pooches

April 13, 2003|By Robert Janjigian | Robert Janjigian,Cox News Service

After a long career designing accessories for people, CeCe Cord has directed her talents toward dogs.

For 23 years, Cord worked alongside Barry Kieselstein-Cord, her ex-husband, developing the distinctive, contemporary Kieselstein-Cord look of jewelry, handbags, belts and leather goods.

The New York-based Cord launched a retail collection of jewelry under her own name in the '80s. In the '90s, she pursued solo design opportunities before and after her divorce. More recently, Cord created a jewelry collection that was sold on Japan's home-shopping network.

"Though it was really successful, I found that after two years of traveling back and forth to Japan, I didn't want to do jewelry anymore," she said.

About a year ago, Cord was considering what to do next. She had acquired a Yorkshire terrier named Tiger Lilly, now 4 years old, and saw that there might be a market for luxury-level dog carriers.

"I always enjoyed designing handbags and wanted to keep doing it, but I needed an angle," she said. "Tiger became such a major part of my life that it just seemed natural for me to design something with her in mind. I know how to do people handbags blindfolded. When a dog comes into the picture, it's a slightly different challenge to make the best dog bag possible."

Cord christened her collection, which made its debut at Bergdorf Goodman in Manhat-tan last fall, Travels with Tiger. Besides totes that can accommodate a puppy for a trip around town or on an airplane, Cord expanded her line to include collars and leashes, harnesses, pet sweaters, coats, dog beds and, most recently, dog treats, baked by her family in Louisiana.

The apparel aspect was inspired by Cord's perception of most dog sweaters and coats as tacky.

"The spring-summer collection is designed with Palm Beach in mind," she said.

There are light-colored raffia handbags and pet carriers, which meet airline regulations, as well as bags rendered in colorful exotic skins, such as ostrich and crocodile. Merino wool, cashmere-blend and cotton sweaters and harnesses, leashes and collars in the line follow a resort theme, featuring depictions of palm trees, golfers, alligators and fish.

Prices range from $400 for a simple carry bag to $5,000 for an all-crocodile tote. Sweaters are less than $200.

Cord's latest Travels with Tiger product is dog biscuits --$22 a bag -- that are hand-cut, homemade and organic.

"The whole idea behind this is to make people smile," Cord said. "At present, I think we all need something to smile about."

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