Dennis Basso has seemingly abandoned (if only temporarily) the inspiration of New York’s well manicured 5th and Madison Avenues (where his well heeled customers live and shop, and where HE has set up shop) in favor of a far more eclectic, global, locale, judging by his fall/winter 2005 collection. Shown yesterday afternoon at The New York Public Library’s Astor Hall, the cross cultural collection of furs and ready to wear was unabashedly colorful, embroidered, mirrored, studded, beaded, bejeweled, embellished, and marked a true departure for a designer who originally put himself on the map with rather traditional, if not somewhat predictable, ‘uptown/glam’ furs, fur trims, and fur accessories.
There was absolutely nothing slick or aggressive in this line-up. Even his choice of venue (the ‘bookish’ and learned New York Public Library, which represents the crossroads of the world) spoke volumes about his breaking with tradition. In the past, he had shown at the very tony and sociable Pierre Hotel, and then more recently, Cipriani 42nd street.
I spotted Jack Cohen, Managing Director of the Dennis Basso Fur Salon, (765 Madison Avenue, 212 794-4500), clad in black tunic and beads, prior to the show (which can only be described as a true fashion spectacle and one that becomes more so each year). He was happily meeting and greeting the guests (which included Neil Sedaka, Patti Raynes, Marty Richards, Pamela Fiori, Jamee Gregory, Nina Griscom, Susan Fales- Hill, Somers Farkas, Hal Rubenstein, Anne McNally) and asked why there were no printed run of shows on the seats. Without hesitation, he pronounced, “Because, it’s SO over the top. We killed ourselves. You’ve never seen this kind of collection and I’ve been in this business 30 years!”
And when I asked if he could try to describe or sum up the line, he quickly said, “Rich girl who lives in the mountains of Tibet.” “Oh, like Lizzie Grubman?” I jokingly asked (I had just spotted the infamous publicist taking her seat). “Perhaps”, Jack smiled.
It was hard not to notice that the rich bohemian, globally eccentric look parading down the runway (which evoked the moods of Dries Van Noten, Romeo Gigli, Matthew Williamson, and Miuccia Prada all at once) was in sharp contrast to many of the middle aged (and older) Chanel suited and coiffed-to-the-nines guests who looked as though they had just come- by limo- from lunch at Daniel or The Four Seasons. Although, there were many in the audience wearing versions of the ethnic gypsy circle skirts that Dennis seemed to favor, pairing them with his narrow shouldered, high arm-holed, intricately designed, and beautifully worked fur coats and jackets.
Tasseled belts, long scarves, sable tail trimmed and embroidered slouchy shoulder bags, and flat shoes accessorized all the outfits nary a stiletto or high heel in sight. In fact, flat colorful and jeweled Tibetan style slippers (the type that are being hawked by street vendors all over town), brown knee high suede flat boots, and furry Mukluks, NOT Manolos, were the order of the day. Long, voluminous, tulle skirts, (many of which were tiered and seemingly petti coated), were shown alongside skinny jeans. Dramatic floor length coats were offered in addition to tiny, shrunken, abbreviated jackets.
Did Dennis ‘reinvent’ the wheel? No, but it was highly visual, had lots of energy, and looked great. Was it ‘new’? Well, no of course, this look has been done, but certainly not by Dennis, whose ‘muse’ had long been Joan Collins (this was not a very ‘Joan Collins’ collection). It’s obvious that Mr. Basso is intent on reinventing himself, keeping up with the times, and going after a more youthful, hip, plugged in clientele.
Oh and by the way, Dennis has long been known to favor dramatic finales featuring diva songstresses like Liza Minnelli and Patti LaBelle. Not this time. There wasn’t even that traditional disco-friendly musical tape accompanying the show. In its place was a somewhat ethnic, global musical soundtrack, which perfectly ‘mirrored’ the mood on the runway.
- Marilyn Kirschner