Demonstrators from NYCLASS, PETA, the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages and other animal rights groups gathered Wednesday evening along Central Park South to protest the use of horses in a New York Fashion Week show.

New York designer Vincent de Souza's show started Fashion Week at 7 p.m., turning the street into a "moving runway" with models in his designs riding on the carriages.

De Souzapreviously called the horse-drawn carriage "the epitome of style," and said "there is no better canvas for a runway show than a carriage ride through Central Park."


"I don't think a $10,000 designer gown goes well with horse manure," said Allie Feldman, executive director of NYCLASS, a nonprofit animal advocacy group.

Feldman said she was "disgusted" when she heard the designer was using horse-drawn carriages in the show, and said he was using "abused animals" for "his own publicity." Feldman also said several of the animals rights groups reached out to the designer, including sending 40,000 letters, to ask him to not use horses in his show.

Atiya Lilly, 20, said she's been an animal advocate since she was a "baby" growing up in the city. Lilly thought de Souza's use of horses was a "slap in the face," given recent efforts by the mayor to ban the carriages.

"Just look for yourself," Lilly said of the tourists who might be interested in taking a ride around Central Park. "I don't see the shine, the twinkle in their (the horses) eyes."

The protesters chanted and waived signs, one reading "horses deserve a better runway," and lined the block at 7th Avenue facing the park.

Carriage drivers queued up across the street said they were used to the protesters. Driver Bruno Angelucci said he grew up around horses in Italy, and said the company he works for "takes very good care of the horses."

Attempts to reach de Souza before deadline were unsuccessful.

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