Home World Dennis Basso Is Excited for His 40th Anniversary – WWD

Dennis Basso Is Excited for His 40th Anniversary – WWD

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At some point in most designers’ careers, the subject of age or the passage of time is not something they want to advertise or even discuss. But, as shameless as he is, Dennis Basso is already looking forward to his 40th anniversary, which will take place in 2023.
Why bother? The 2023 spring collection will be showcased on the runway on Monday afternoon. “I’m completely focused on the future.” Many people would describe themselves as being in the roundup [period of life]. I have the impression that I am only getting started. I share your passion. “It’s just who I am,” Basso explained. “Forty years represents a small amount of survival.” ‘Every day isn’t Christmas,’ I usually say. When you’re in business for that long, there are ups and downs.”
Cell phones, much alone smartphones or computers, did not exist when he began his career in the early 1980s. Faxing was a type of business communication at the time, and the world was a different place. His company evolved alongside society and consumerism during the last four decades. “It’s been a long and incredible run.” I am extremely grateful to the people I have met. People who are no longer with us, such as Elizabeth Taylor, as well as those who are, such as Jennifer Lopez.”

Courtesy of Dennis Basso
To a significant extent, Basso has realized both of his childhood dreams of being in fashion or in show business. Serious about the latter, he studied speech and acting at Catholic University before transferring to the Fashion Institute of Technology. His career is proof that he is equal parts business, pleasure, social, and famous. Next year, he will celebrate his 30-year anniversary with QVC, demonstrating another another way Basso has merged fashion and show business. “Talk about a double nightmare,” Basso remarked. (And a lucrative one, given that his debut QVC program generated $350,000 in sales in one hour and he has since sold 6 million copies through QVC.)
“I’m excited to see what tomorrow brings.” But I don’t see myself living at home for long. That is not what I intend to do. “Never,” he declared. “I’m continuously looking for ways to grow my business.” I have the impression that there is a vast area in the middle — from $150 to $500 reasonable luxury — that I have yet to explore. “I’m working on some television shows about fashion and home decor.”
The designer held his first fashion presentation at the Regency Hotel in 1983, and one of the visitors, Ivana Trump, showed up unannounced at his store the next morning and ordered several of his coats. He received glowing reviews from WWD and The New York Times. While speaking to attendees at Trump’s burial in July, Basso recalled that auspicious start to a great career and friendship. Basso’s business and personal life have been influenced by high-profile ladies, celebrities, and socialites. For Basso, a welcoming entertainer who used to cap off his runway presentations with formal dinners at monuments like Le Cirque, The Pierre, and the Rainbow Room, there is often no distinction between the two.
Basso moved from Manhattan’s run-down fur sector to the Upper East Side, the preferred zip code for many of his well-heeled customers, about 20 years ago. The Madison Avenue address houses a store, offices, and an atelier on multiple floors. Many of his clientele attended Basso and Michael Cominotto’s wedding celebration at the Pierre hotel in 2011. The designer’s warm personality is reflected in the Hotel duCobb home line, which he offers on QVC. The moniker is a play on the nickname given to his Hamptons by close friends who have enjoyed his hospitality and believe the level of service is equivalent to the Hotel du Cap Eden-Roc.
Recognizing the influence of celebrities on sales, Basso created his first celebrity coat for Zsa Zsa Gabor in 1984. Elizabeth Taylor became a client five years later. Trump, Joan Rivers, Eartha Kitt, Patti LaBelle, Natalie Cole, Joan Collins, Liza Minnelli, Diana Ross, Mary J. Blige, and Lisa Rinna were among his renowned friends and some strong-willed and opinionated women who were the finale of his runway displays over the years. Basso also designed a couple fur coats that Meryl Streep wore in the 2006 film “The Devil Wears Prada,” including the pivotal opening scene in which she threw one on her assistant’s desk. During their time in the White House, Basso created pieces for Princess Diana, Nancy Reagan, Hillary Clinton, and Michelle Obama. “It’s not political when you do that.” “You are outfitting the first lady’s office in the United States of America,” he explained.
Basso has always emphasized the importance of human connection. He was fast to conduct trunk displays and tour worldwide, wanting to follow in the footsteps of old-school designers like Bill Blass and Oscar de la Renta. “I reasoned that if it’s good enough for them, it must be good enough for me.” That’s how I ended up starting my label without a public relations machine. It was me [laughing at the memory]. “However, I worked quite hard.”

Dennis Basso RTW Fall 2021Courtesy of Dennis Basso

Dennis Basso and Lisa Rinna on the runway Dennis Basso fall 2020 show.Rodin Banica/WWD
“Clients who adore clothes, jewelry, and beautiful things” were his early targets, which is why he began in furs. Today’s spring collection is heavy on eveningwear and occasion dressing alternatives, as well as furs that are more like accessories, such as a bolero. Basso began working for My Fishman Furs in the late 1970s, earning $450 per week before setting off on his own. In contrast to his peers in the industry, who were second- or third-generation furriers, Basso’s outlook was far more open. After his frugal boss turned down a friend’s request to buy a fur coat wholesale, Basso obtained one through another company. Other requests followed, and Basso began throwing “fur parties” at night “à la Tupperware” in Greenwich, Connecticut, Oyster Bay, Long Island, and Milburn, New Jersey. The fur products came from sources other than his full-time employer. However, after a while, Fisherman discovered his secret business and dismissed him for “taking potential revenue,” according to Basso.
His debut collection had 62 styles that retailed for up to $2,500 and was based at 330 Seventh Avenue. One of the turning points was Basso’s trunk display at Martha’s on Park Avenue. “I’m sure the younger generation has no idea who Martha [Phillips, the owner] was.” But it was perhaps the best clothes shop in the world [at the time]. “She introduced more European designers to America than anyone else,” Basso added.
Basso’s business expanded from fur coats to other categories such as ready-to-wear, eveningwear, handbags, and other accessories throughout time. In 2002, she opened a jewel box-style boutique at the upscale Little Nell Resort in Aspen as another method to connect with customers on a more personal level. Both of these locations, as well as one in Chicago, have since closed. The designer does have a “important” Harrods store as well as a 30,000-square-foot atelier, manufacturing facility, and corporate office in Long Island City. “Success is talent, whatever your talent is, excitement, and a determination to go after what you want.” I believe my personality contributes significantly to the Dennis Basso brand. I also enjoy entertaining.”
While the political climate has become increasingly polarized in recent years, Basso’s bipartisanship in dressing politicians, their children, and other close relatives has served him well. He designed fur jackets for then-First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton in the 1990s and even arranged a private dinner for her at which Johnny Cash played. Basso stepped in to throw a luncheon for Clinton when she campaigned for Senate in 2000.
In 1994, the designer was thrust into the spotlight after a Colorado man opened fire on what he mistook for then-President Bill Clinton at the White House. Basso, the gray-haired guy, has just emerged from the West Wing following a private tour. That encounter, like his participation at Donald Trump’s inaugural, was not mentioned by Basso in a subsequent interview. Similarly, on Christmas Eve 2016, a brazen break-in at his Madison Avenue store led in the theft of more than 20 sable and chinchilla coats.

Dennis Basso RTW Fall 2020Rodin Banica/WWD

Gregarious as ever, Basso prefers to focus on what’s ahead rather than dwell on the past, any losses, or obstacles. One of the few career achievements he mentioned was being admitted into the Council of Fashion Designers of America in 2002. Basso, who is all too aware of how the term “furrier” may be deemed derogatory, shed that label years ago by referring to himself as a designer. The CFDA’s approval confirmed that goal.
“I’ve come to realize that every day is a new day.” You must be up to date. You must be willing. To explore new things, you must be open-minded and willing to experiment,” Basso remarked. “You must also be willing to learn from others.” Everyone has the ability to generate fresh ideas. You have no idea where you might obtain one. I don’t mean a new design concept; I mean a fresh perspective on life or a method of doing things.”

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