Profile of Oscar V: Pooch to the Stars of Under the Gunn

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Meet Oscar Vergara.

In the new Project Runway television spin-off  “Under the Gunn” (which began airing in January), design contestants work out of the LA Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising downtown, and drive over with show host Tim Gunn to Mood Designer Fabrics,on La Brea Ave north of Wilshire Blvd, to find fabrics for their fashion creations.  Following their selections, the designer contestants say goodbye to the Mood store mascot “Oscar” the Chihuahua, giving Oscar a bit of screen time on the popular TV show.

The pooch-as-mascot connection first started in Project Runway where contestants regularly walked over from Parsons School in New York City to Mood Fabrics NYC to ring up their purchases of chiffon or double-sided matte jersey, then said goodbye to store mascot “Swatch,” the Boston terrier.  Seen lying between aisles of rolled textiles, the distinctive black-and-white Swatch has become so famous in his own right that his mug now adorns a T-shirt.

Named after Oscar de la Renta, the chill Chihuahua in residence at Mood Los Angeles agreed to his first interview with the Larchmont Buzz.

Raul Vergara holds Oscar at  Mood Fabrics LA
Raul Vergara holds Oscar at Mood Fabrics LA

Not a fashionista per se (although staff and patrons try to dress him in bowties), Oscar does like the finer things in life, like lounging on the cashmere remnants.  He spends his dog’s-life basking in the sunshine of the east-facing show windows during the morning, then moves to the back door as the light changes.  After lunch he settles down for nappie, arising at 3-4 pm when he wanders through the store greeting customers.  “Very friendly” is how staff and customers all describe the 6 ½ year-old rescue dog adopted by Raul Vergara a couple years ago.  “Tim Gunn picked him up,” explained Raul.  “He never barks except at men in uniform, like the UPS man at first.”  Many L.A. customers bring their own dogs to the store but the Chihuahua is copacetic.

Is there an East Coast/West Coast rivalry between Oscar and Swatch?  “They have met before,” explains Raul, “and just looked at each other.  But you know, Swatch? – very fat.  Everyone who comes into the store tries to feed him.”  The trim Oscar eats like a body-conscious Angeleno.  “I make a chicken every Sunday and he eats it all week.”

Does Oscar ever “soil” the textiles? “Oh no!  He always tells me first, and at home.” Oscar resides in the historic Ravenswood apartments on Rossmore Ave. with his owner.

Check out Oscar in the Corbusier chairs in the Mood windows located at 645 S. La Brea Ave.

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About Renee Montgomery

Renee Montgomery began researching historic men's waistcoats at LACMA in 1979 as an intern, and is still at the museum as an Assistant Director in administration. She's written for various local media and museum publications, focusing on 'small town pockets' in urban L.A. She resides in Lafayette Square and has one daughter, a professional ballet dancer. Having never lost her zeal for her 'aggie' San Gabriel Valley/Riverside upbringing, Renee currently sells citrus and homegrown produce to support dog rescue efforts.

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