There is really only one song that should accompany a Dennis Basso presentation, and that is Odyssey's "Native New Yorker," and—hooray and hurrah—finally, that song began and closed a show that announced itself with a program featuring a cover illustration of the Statue of Liberty on a leopard print background.
More leopard print followed in the show at Cipriani 42nd Street; and, as that venue suggests, there was a fair bit of money in the room. This was evident in both the clothes on backs and work done on faces, all perfectly at home amid the marble columns, chandeliers, and Renaissance-esque renderings.
Basso is a brash, fun designer whose sense of drama and color is perfect for dressing Trumps (as he has in the past), or Real Housewives and quieter richer housewives out prowling on the rich-at-play charity circuit. Basso said his model “New York City Girl” experimented with fashion “from high to low with a feeling of freedom, strength, and independence... From casual days to gala evenings, our New York City woman never allows the clothes to wear her, she is wearing the clothes.”
If you don't have “casual days” or “gala evenings,” Dennis Basso doesn't know what to do with you, sweetie.
There were 50 looks on display, a not unusually high number for a Basso show. If you know Basso for his furs (which he is most unapologetic about), those furs came solo, as dramatically contoured and shaped as jackets as a certain Upper East Side lady who lightly lunches would desire, and in a dizzying array of sable, fox, chinchilla, shearling (and faux fur too)—as well as a jacket made from python.
It was glamour on steroids, as if Dynasty, the original, had never ended; as if Marlene Dietrich herself had thunderously demanded the jackets' presence from beyond the grave. In contrast, ball gown skirts were unapologetically fairy-princess, in chiffon and light pastels, with sequins and floral detail. And then there was a strange colorful check coat, which looked like a mischievous intruder.
Not for Basso the usual discreet-and-disappear bow at the end, but rather (and good on him) a serpentine circuit of the entire show, arm in arm with Carol Alt, making her return to the modeling game as his final model. Basso almost tripped on the hem of her gown right in front of the photographers, but righted himself and (obviously, as it always does) the show went on.—Tim Teeman