That Chichie look: a half century of grooming Washington’s finest

Photo by Judith Beermann
Paris and Chichie
Paris and Chichie

“One day I looked across the street and said to myself, I swear I’ve got some competition. My heart was beating fast, but it turned out it was one of mine.”

She’s been a character witness for the plaintiff in a case of dog bites dentist’s hand, given Bo Obama his first haircut, and attended Leader’s birthday party at the Watergate home of his owners, Elizabeth and Bob Dole.  The walls of her elegant Georgetown grooming spa are filled with six decades of remembrances.

A young Chichie and friend (Photo by: Judith Beermann) A young Chichie and friend

Bo Obama before meeting The First Family (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Bo Obama before meeting The First Family

Chichie, born Lowaunz ‘Saint Teresa’ Koger, has been transforming family pets into Chichie runway stars for over 50 years.

“I just don’t notice people. I think I’m a dog. I like people the way dogs like people.”

By the time she had opened her first Capitol Hill shop in the early 60’s with then husband, Earl, Chichie had perfected her grooming arts starting with Roy, her dad’s German shepherd guard dog.

Sunday was her first true inspiration, a cocker spaniel her mother found by the side of the road when she was 10.  “She was a wreck but I thought she was beautiful.” After taking her to be cleaned up by the local vet, and finding her returned “with no hair, white flakes and a big knot on her head,” Chichie was appalled at the botched grooming but pleased to notice Sunday was already feeling better. With her own combs and manicure scissors, she set to work. From that time on, her vision was to “have a place where people could bring their dogs and not worry that anything was going to happen, and they would get a great hair-do.”

A day at the spa (Photo by: Judith Beermann) A day at the spa

Then there was Chico, the family’s capuchin monkey. “She was really funny,” Chichie laughed as she recalled her easily breaking into the homes of their Italian Philadelphia neighbors. Her dad had built a cage for Chico but she preferred sleeping with Chichie.

Miniature schnauzer, Leader's last birthday party at the Watergate residence of Elizabeth and Bob Dole. (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Miniature schnauzer, Leader's last birthday party at the Watergate residence of Elizabeth and Bob Dole.

At 24, she discovered poodles. While volunteering at an animal hospital, a “beautiful black standard” mated with “a Rastafarian-looking one,” produced a “gorgeous litter of 12" and Chichie was thrilled to be given her pick. Gypsy was the first in a long line of show-worthy beloved family poodles.

One of Chichie’s earliest fans (still to this day) was Georgetowner, Katherine Evans, who owned Hubert, a standard poodle named after vice president Hubert Humphrey. Katherine, (widow of Roland Evans,  journalist best known for his syndicated column, the ‘Evans-Novak Political Report’ with Robert Novak) urged Chichie to move the shop closer to her. “She parted the waters for me,” Chichie explained how Katherine helped her find her first Georgetown location in the 2900 block of M Street. At the time,  two competing dog shops were nearby, but not for long.

(Photo by: Judith Beermann)

Her passion was not confined to canines. “I raised three squirrels,” one so tiny she fed with an eyedropper, “If he’s alive in the morning, he’s my squirrel.” Pointing to the gold-framed photo, “I cried so hard when that squirrel died. Missed him more than when Earl left.”

When she moved to her current location on P Street in 1994, the first thing Chichie did was knock on the office door of neighbor, world-renowned architect, Hugh Newell Jacobsen.

“What color should I paint my house?” Hugh was on his way to the airport but came across the street and quickly jotted down a shade of Benjamin Moore yellow and midnight green for the shutters and railings.  They soon became friends, and Chichie on more than one occasion could hear Hugh call out, “Chichie’s got the only real business in Georgetown.”

An early Jack Evans Christmas family photo with Chichie-groomed golden retriever (Photo by: Judith Beermann) An early Jack Evans Christmas family photo with Chichie-groomed golden retriever

Paris at play (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Paris at play

Named Best Groomer 2011by The Washingtonian (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Named Best Groomer 2011by The Washingtonian

Daughter, Aleta giving a client a bath (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Daughter, Aleta giving a client a bath

“People say they can tell it’s a Chichie dog. The all have beautiful haircuts, the cut, the style and all different breeds.”

Her clients come from every part of the city, the country and beyond. “Madame Chichie, my wife really loves you. We come all the way from the south of France.” Every three months, the couple would fly with Putsi, their apricot miniature poodle for that “Chichie look.”  When she died, they bequeathed her  belongings to Chichie and shipped them to Georgeotwn.

And what does Chichie do for fun? “I love to walk Paris and Bandit.”

Chichie's Grooming Spa is at 2614 P Street.

Chichie with Bandit, an imperial shitzu and Paris (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Chichie with Bandit, an imperial shitzu and Paris

0 Comments For This Article

Anonymous

We're not rich or famous, but many years ago, Chichie groomed our beloved apricot miniature poodle Pierre before he died and it was obvious he always thought himself SPECIAL for the experience. He always had an extra pep in his step when he left her shop. Glad to see Chichie is still doing her thing.

The Heimbold Family

ChiChi: You are a Georgetown and national treasure. We will always be grateful for the outstanding care you took of our beloved Ashley (a cocker spaniel and granddaughter of Candy Cane)who left your salon ready for any photo-op. Ashley is now in doggy heaven and no doubt setting a style standard because of you. With much appreciation, The Heimbolds

michelle marcello

Well, the only place we trust with our yorkies ...yep you know it...Chichie's, the best of all pet grooming spas!!! Lucky and Percy can't wait to jump in the car. I dont know what I would do without Chichie & Aleta; they have just the right touch and flair for what they do. xoxo

Lise and Tom

Chichie and Aleta!
Pink, Spike and Cupcake all owe their looks and health to you two...seriously, because of you we had many more great years with our dogs...you don't just make them incredibly beautiful you make them happy and healthy...and we get a wonderful friend...we can never thank you enough or go anywhere else!!!
xo,
Lise and Tom
PS Cupcake says she likes your house better than ours!!

Aleta

Her pack hangs out here,& they have a good time
XO

Bonni and Milli

You are Simply The Best

Chuchu & Girma

Chichi & Aleta
We are very thankful for your unconditional love and care to our beloved toy poodel PEPE for the last 12 years.
You are the best .
We love you!
Naty,abe.,Chuchu & Girma

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