An Ode to Joan Rivers – The Dennis Basso Show

The show was held at the Theatre in Lincoln Center on a balmy, warm afternoon, hardly conducive for viewing furs. However, no need to worry since few chinchillas were shown in this collection. Rather a muted pastel amalgam of gowns and dresses was exhibited with only a modicum of signature Basso furs on display. Basso said this collection was inspired by the luxury resorts of the Mediterranean in the 60’s. The show’s utilization of playsuits, tunic tops and capris were indicative of this laid back, summery vibe.

Basso, 59, started his business in 1983 after selling a line of pelts out of the trunk of a rented town car. He now caters his collection to socialites and movie stars, recently dressing Gabrielle Union for her wedding to basketball star Dwayne Wade. Spotting Ivana Trump at the show, she recounted being introduced to Basso 30 years ago when his showroom was the size of the smallest bathroom in her house (that still might be quite large). Enthralled by his talent, Ivana bought 6 coats from him immediately, and later attended his first fashion show at the Pierre. Another longtime fan, Star Jones, who has known Dennis for 20 years and worn his gowns and furs to the Obama inauguration and “Celebrity Apprentice” finale said that every fur she possesses is from Dennis and he is like a big brother.

Star Jones at the show
(All photos Lieba Nesis)

On a more somber note, Star recollected sitting next to Joan Rivers at last year’s show and Joan being the “ultimate feminist” by encouraging women to stand on their own two feet and personally exhorting Star to move on when she experienced “yucky” times professionally. While the usual suspects attended the show such as Carol Alt, Hal Rubenstein, Amy Fine Collins, Julie Macklowe, Michele Herbert, Lucia Gordon and some newbies such as Jada Pinkett, Lisa Rinna, and Hoda Kotb the show lacked its usual excitement and electricity partially attributable to the absence of Mrs. Rivers and the smaller than usual crowd. Basso dedicated his show to his good friend Joan Rivers and asked for a moment of silence before the show began.

Olive alligator and sable jacket & silver romper

The collection opened with a simple white dress which was surprisingly demure and unadorned. The following looks in white, even when coupled with a fur, were simple and clean without the wow factor of the bolder colors which Dennis usually employs. However, the heather broadtail and sable cape with a white dress was a stunning contrast- the luxuriousness of a Basso fur against the delicacy of a white dress is where Basso excels. Similarly the olive alligator sable jacket against a silver shorts romper, was a dynamite and unlikely combination; it is rare to see shorts at a Dennis Basso show but this was executed perfectly. The use of rose gold, blush and apricot were delightful and soft yet, I missed the bold midnight blues and glaring greens of his previous collections.

Mosaic caviar hand embroidered flora cloque gown

The mosaic caviar hand embroidered yellow and grey cloque gown was showstopping, the yellow and grey combination that he utilized throughout this collection was exquisite, with the detailed embroidery producing a lavish yet understated effect. The grey mink coat over the grey suede shorts romper was an exciting twist to the typical fur combination, and one that I hope soon appears on the beaches of St. Tropez. The mink and broadtail mosaic crop tunic and cloque mini in pink and grey was so gently luminescent it was hard to detect any trace of fur in the dazzling combination. The floral hand embroidered dresses were pretty and ethereal without producing any dramatic effect. However, the last three gowns were magnificent due to their intricate embroidery and opulent appearance. The sheer floral mesh gazaar gown was richly layered with an otherworldly beauty and sexiness that is trademark Dennis Basso.

Pink hand embroidered sheer mesh gazaar gown

The last gown in pink with hand embroidered petals on a sheer mesh gazaar gown was provocative and heavenly, a fitting conclusion to an understated, yet beautifully restrained show. The conclusion of the show had Dennis Basso walking out and greeting his fans and friends to muted applause and cheers. The atmosphere of restrained enthusiasm was due to the passing of longtime Basso client Joan Rivers. Rivers possessed a large collection of Basso furs, and was the paradigm of a typical Dennis client: a working socialite with a zest for life, furs and splendor. Her absence is not only a loss to her family and friends, but to the fashion world as a whole. We will mourn the passing of a giant talent, and connoisseur of the finer things in life – one of them being a wardrobe comprised of Dennis Basso creations.

Lieba Nesis

My love of fashion, writing and photography were something that always dominated my lifestyle however it wasn't until I was approached by the editor of Lookonline that I realized I could utilize these three skills in combination.

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