A ‘Broadtail’ of two Cities

Remember one year ago when New York furrier Dennis Basso presented his wonderfully eccentric and cross cultural collection of furs and ready to wear? Unabashedly colorful, embroidered, mirrored, studded, beaded, bejeweled, and embellished, it marked a true departure for the designer who initially put himself on the map with rather traditional if not somewhat predictable uptown/glam furs, fur trims, and fur accessories. With jeans and slouchy bags added to impart the desired mood, it was homage to boho chic, or as Jack Cohen, Managing Director of the Dennis Basso Salon, so perfectly summed it up, “Rich girl who lives in the mountains of Tibet” (To which I jokingly said, oh, like Lizzie Grubman?”)

Well, surprise, surprise. One year later, gone is anything remotely bohemian, or that mountain in Tibet for that matter. In fact, for fall 2006, Dennis’s loyal following will be thinking more about Paris because according to Jack Cohen, it’s all about “French glamour”. When I asked who Dennis’s muses or inspirations were, Jack was quick to say, “Leslie Caron” (in the 60’s) and Louise Brooks”. And he effused, “The workmanship you have to see. The workmanship is extraordinary! We have new techniques for EVERYTHING. It’s all about broadtail. We’ve split it, we’ve sueded it, we’ve embroidered it!”.

And he was certainly right about that. In fact, other than a few Natural minks, Black velvet chinchillas, and a smattering of Montana lynx bellies (a coat and a jacket), Russian broadtail (in one carnation or another) comprised almost all of the of the other 43 looks that were presented at The New York Public Library’s Astor Hall (the venue for the second year in a row).

Broadtail, (a pelt favored by designers because it’s so perfect for tailoring, easy to work with, and practically seasonless), was indeed sueded, hand embroidered with Swarovski crystals, trimmed with coq or ostrich feathers, trimmed with ribbon, made into city shorts or skinny pants, fashioned into a hand embroidered wide obi belt to mark the waist of a coat or jacket, and even used to make an evening bag.

Among the standouts are the Russian broadtail jacket with handmade broadtail lace sleeves worn with Russian broadtail city shorts; a Russian broadtail coat with hand embroidered ostrich feather detail on the hem and sleeves; a Russian broadtail jacket with Swarovski hand embroidery and ribbon, lace, and tulle details; an ivory Russian broadtail ‘trench’ outlined with black tulle, lace, ribbon; and an ivory Russian sueded broadtail opera cape with hand embroidered ostrich feathers. In one instance, Dennis inventively used black Russian broadtail trimmed with ostrich feathers, to create a ‘simple’ knee length skirt. Pairing it, as he did, with a pretty ivory short sleeved blouse with black satin bow, he was able to transform that ‘uniform’ of a white blouse and black knee length skirt into something a bit more, well….interesting.

The 500 who attended the show (1,000 guests were invited), including Anna Wintour, Lorraine Bracco, Denise Rich, Liza Minnelli, and the Neil Sedakas), were treated to a well edited and fast paced lineup of beautifully tailored and expertly crafted pieces that were pared down to a very chic Parisian color palette of black, brown, and ivory, and infused with a French spirit. One could easily imagine Carine Roitfeld, the Editor-in-chief of French Vogue and the reigning Queen of Parisian Chic, wearing many of these pieces. Of course, the same can also be said of her American counterpart, Anna Wintour,

By the way, speaking of Anna Wintour, the Vogue Editor-in-chief was one of several guests who wore a touch of fur on this muggy late spring day; as if to prove that the luxurious pelt is indeed, seasonless and can be considered as a year round fabric. Anna’s narrow ivory knee length coat featured a lavish fox trimmed hem; another woman carried a Russian sable scarf in her hands; yet another was wearing Dennis’s pale lavender cashmere coat trimmed in lavender dyed Chinchilla. She told me that when she went out early in the morning, she found it to be rather chilly but agreed that later in the afternoon, it turned surprisingly warmer. However, that was apparently not enough to deter her from keeping it on.

-Marilyn Kirschner

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

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