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Fashion Designer Slammed For Using Carriage Horses On Opening Night Of Fashion Week

<p>Flickr/photophilde</p>

While city council members work on legislation to ban the controversial carriage horses of New York City, one fashion designer is using them as his models' personal ferries.

Victor De Souza, an American designer, will host a fashion show Wednesday night featuring models wearing his designs and riding along in horse carriages along Seventh Ave. from Central Park to the Plaza Hotel. Though not officially a park of NY Fashion Week, De Souza timed his show with Fashion Week's opening night.

Usually, fashion designers earn the ire of animal advocates for their choice of materials, like leather and fur. But this time, activists have harshly criticized the designer's use of live horses, arguing that the industry is inhumane and dangerous for the animals.

"What De Souza is doing is forcing horses into spotlight of the runway while also exposing them to the dangers of rush hour traffic," Allie Feldman, executive director of the animal welfare group NYCLASS told The Dodo. "I don't know what person in their right mind would find that attractive or stylish ... I think it's an embarrassment to the fashion industry."

Both NYCLASS and PETA have urged De Souza not to use live animals during his show, and the designer has reportedly received over 40,000 signatures on a petition calling on him to cancel. But the show is slated to go on - though not without the presence of protestors. NYCLASS is holding a peaceful protest at the site of the show on Wednesday evening.

The horse carriage industry has become something of a pet passion for New York's Mayor Bill de Blasio, who was elected in November 2013 promising to ban the industry. Countless horse carriage accidents, legal breaches by carriage drivers, and allegations of animal mistreatment by the drivers have only made the ban more pressing. Earlier this year, the Mayor announced that the carriages would be gone for good by the end of the year.

The Dodo has reached out to De Souza for comment.

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