Dennis Basso is a larger than life character. He is full of style that transcends from fashion, to the décor of his homes, to the legendary dinners that he hosts in the Hamptons. He designs some the most exquisite fashion of our era, from the dreamy light blue bridesmaid’s dresses for Nikki Hilton’s wedding at Kensington Palace, to his anticipated Fashion Week shows each year.
He has the star qualities of a glamorous Hollywood: the great laugh, impeccably tailored clothing (more on that later) and the feeling that whenever you’re speaking with him he is perpetually en-route to something fabulous – but he makes time for people and waxes poetic about whatever it is you want to discuss.
His Pre-Fall 2016 collection is in a word: majestic. Perfectly in line with the bohemian wave of beauty in interior design and artisan made goods throughout the West Coast, the collection had a most fanciful incarnation. With his low, almost conspiring voice, he tells the story of his inspiration. I’ve done enough fashion coverage to hear stories of inspiration, often circling around an idea of the new modern woman but Dennis changed the landscape literally.
Speaking on his inspiration, he says, “Were in a field – and there’s this enormous tree where there’s this marvelous party at an old country manner home” he begins, “it’s a hazy, glamorous affair where the women are dressed to the nines in these flowing, almost bohemian gowns. Wildflowers are everywhere. The moon, the flowing fabric, is all captured from this image”. Fabulous indeed.
Back mentally from the Manner estate, he’s now at the Madison Avenue flagship store, prepping these dresses for Fashion Week and talking about all things beauty- from inspiration, to dinner and what makes a stylish man and woman today:
How do you begin your day?
Oh I try to do two healthy things right away; I eat a good breakfast and work out with my trainer. Then I’m talking with my team about the collection and checking in on all we are accomplishing for the day ahead. Lunch is a wonderful opportunity to communicate, for work or catching up with a dear friend. I always make time to enjoy this.
You travel everywhere and have managed to create a life that seems so in-tune with who you are in terms of style. How do you stay inspired?
My antennae are always looking up at beauty! It’s in the street; it’s how the park changes through the seasons. There’s always something to be inspired by at all moments of the day. I take this and translate it into my home, into my work.
Speaking of home, I need to pause a moment on your collection of blue and white porcelain. (He has one of the most extensive collections in the US).
I know, it’s marvelous and my home makes me very happy. It’s very us, me and Michael.
Does each piece have a story? I’m very much interested in the spirit of a collected house.
You know, yes. I can tell you where every single piece has come from. We travel extensively and always bring back something for the home. Each piece essentially tells our story. We have a vast collection from Asia, also wonderful glass wear from Turkey, a collection from Sardenia. And of course wonderful finds from here in the U.S. You always have to keep an eye out and it’s a good idea to pop into your favorite antique store and see what you fall in love with.
Your dinner parties, whether it’s 6 or 100 people, have a similar vein of casual perfection – the place settings, candles, flowers. What do you enjoy most about these evenings?
It’s great fun, from the planning throughout the whole evening. We have a wonderful housekeeper who is a great cook and we all help out in the kitchen together on many occasions.
Even at a casual party the silver tea service is out, I love that.
We don’t believe in storing anything! Everything is used and enjoyed; nothing is kept in a cupboard.
At this moment, what makes a stylish woman to you?
She’s a collector of quality pieces. She knows how to mix designers well. She is engaging in conversation and is good to people. She travels. She exudes style in an effortless way.
And a man?
Here’s the thing, and it’s very important. A man needs to get back to what was once considered the necessities to be a stylish gentleman. There’s too many options today and being stylish is a very simple thing to accomplish. This begins with grooming, and having a good tailor. It doesn’t matter if your tall, short, attractive or unattractive, if you have a good neighborhood tailor and a few key pieces, you will be appealing and stylish. Be good to the special person in your life, and really listen. Time today is valuable. Create time. For style, he needs a few crisp white shirts, a navy blazer, a good watch, and polished shoes. These pieces need to be well kept. That is style, caring and making an effort.
As the evening comes, Dennis is perpetually in motion. Creating final design sketches, planning a dinner at Bemelmans Bar at the Carlyle, while arranging his next LA travel. When his husband calls he makes time.
A modern gentleman, always in style. For more information visit dennisbasso.com