Dennis Basso by Tim Teeman
As she took her seat on the front row of Dennis Basso’s show at the Skylight Clarkson space on Tuesday afternoon, there were no spaces around Tiffany Trump.
The night before, at the chaotic Philipp Plein show at New York Public Library—complete with Madonna, Kylie Jenner, and a lot of free booze—it was noted that there were spare seats around her.
“Once she was seated, two editors from a top women’s magazine immediately got up and left,” reported The Cut. “Other well-known influencers nearby requested seat changes shortly after.”
Trump’s “best” (friend, presumably), Andrew Warren, a “Rich Kid of Instagram,” posted a message claiming the empty seats was reserved for Plein’s family.
On Tuesday, at Basso’s show, Trump again sat alongside Warren and another friend. She was wearing a red/purple dress, with a jewel-encrusted front and sleeves, and talked animatedly to Warren and other friends.
Finally, after a Fashion Week notable for a wide variety of oppositional takes by designers against Trump’s administration (especially at the Chromat show, with its “Fuck Donald Trump” rap), a Trump could take their front row seat and know they were on friendly territory.
Lurking behind Trump was a gentleman in a dark suit and ear-piece, who was possibly her Secret Service guy. (Word to the wise: if you want the best vantage point at a fashion show, join the Secret Service.)
Trump looked as if she enjoyed the show, and at the end Basso—who did a full circuit of the space—stopped to greet her.
Ivana Trump, a longtime friend, has attended Basso’s show before, and he vouchsafed his own support and affection for the Trumps to me in a December interview.
Unlike other designers, Basso is happy to dress Melania. “Absolutely. 100 percent. I think you have to step aside from the politics and look at it that it’s an honor to dress the first lady of the United States of America.”
Today, backstage at his show, Basso told The Daily Beast that Ivana, Ivanka and Melania, who he has dressed before “are just regular women who like beautiful clothes. I’ve known the family for 35 years. They’re lovely people. They’re a very fun, close-knit family.”
How did he feel about the current political situation, then, especially in light of the prevailing mood of Fashion Week?
“I really don’t discuss politics. I’m all about fashion. I know them as a family: that’s all I can comment on. I’ve known the children since they were born. They’re lovely people.”
Basso is most famous for his furs—and they were on proud display among the 67 mostly stunning, very dressy, and very expensive outfits in Tuesday’s show, sometimes the central part of an outfit (as with broadtail and sable coats with a fishnet top and tan slit-skirted trouser), sometimes the accessory (sable necklaces are just as decadent as their description summons), and sometimes totally absent, as in a sequence of rippling, gracious lamé gowns. Other elements of Basso’s dresses had delicate embroidery, and the designer also produced a series of capelets, chiffon gowns, turtlenecks, velvet trousers and cocktail dresses, and fox boas.
Basso told the Daily Beast that the collection mixed “a little bit of boho, these items are rich in fabric, they can be casual or dressed up. It’s important to have that modern approach to dressing today.”
His inspiration is the world traveler, a modern woman who likes to experiment with fashion, to mix high and low, a little bit of a free thinker. She likes the touch of things. She’s very tactile. This collection has that feeling.”
There’s been a lot of fur on the runway this week: the self-imposed ban among designers using it seems a long way over. “Everywhere is showing fur,” Basso said. “I’ve always shown fur. I love the glamor of doing it, and now I’m doing ready-to-wear.”
His Madison Avenue store was robbed at Christmas, with around $1 million in stock taken. “The robbery is a little crazy,” Basso conceded. “But I’m a very positive individual. I feel very sorry for those people who did that. It’s obviously problematic to resort to that sort of violence. I’m moving forward, full speed ahead, and leaving it in the hands of the authorities. Every day is a new adventure: we’ll see what happens.”
As she continues her controversial travels through New York Fashion Week, Tiffany Trump may well be thinking the same thing.
Tory Burch by Lizzie Crocker
A number of designers at New York Fashion Week have dedicated their Fall 2017 collections to strong women. Jonathan Simkhai said that “women need to draw attention to their invaluable place in society, now more than ever.” Tracy Reese, who used her show to elevate powerful feminist voices, was inspired by activists at the Women’s March like Angela Davis and Gloria Steinem. And Tory Burch’s muse was Tracy Lord, the outspoken, high-society heroine played by Katherine Hepburn in The Philadelphia Story.
In 1940, Hepburn’s Tracy Lord was ahead of her time as a woman who refused to be a doormat when powerful men came calling. She was as clever as she was beautiful, but it was her acerbic wit that made her stand out from other leading ladies in screwball comedies.
A number of looks in Burch’s collection were meant to combine Lord’s “outdoor glamour” with her “confident femininity,” the designer said—fitting for a brand that she once summed up as “prock,” a blend of “preppy” and “jock.” Fair Isle sweaters, skirts and trousers in “Main Line plaid,” and pussy-bow blouses all featured prominently. Models wore pendant necklaces with old-school cigarette lighters inspired by Burch’s father (Hepburn also made smoking look chic in The Philadelphia Story).
Like Lord, Burch is an ambitious, blue-blooded woman who grew up in a wealthy Philadelphia suburb. Privilege is a dirty word today. Successful businesswomen who were born with silver spoons in their mouths don’t get as much credit as their non-privileged counterparts. Some of them don’t deserve that credit—but Burch certainly does.
A collection nodding to enlightened gender politics in a classic old film felt honest and authentic coming from Burch. Radical feminism isn’t her thing—and that’s just fine.
Naeem Khan by Lizzie Crocker
“It’s very simple,” Naeem Khan said when asked why he declined to dress First Lady Melania Trump for Inauguration Day. “You have to believe in the message, and the message does not resonate with me.”
Khan had just presented a breathtaking collection and was surrounded by adoring fans and fashion power players backstage. “It was just spectacular,” one of them said after embracing the designer. “People were really gasping.”
Indeed, there were many oohs and aahs and collective intakes of breath throughout the show, a parade of glam-sexy daywear and red carpet-ready gowns: sequined pantsuits over sheer bralettes, slinky dresses with beaded fringe accents, and floral-and-leopard print jackets over matching frocks, which the designer accessorized with pearl necklaces and pom-pom earrings.
For the finale, an African-American model in a spectacularly regal gold gown and headdress slowly walked the length of the runway, while Khan read aloud Maya Angelou’s Human Family from backstage (poetry has been a trend in this season’s shows). Actress Peyton List gasped. So did This Is Us star Mandy Moore, whom Khan dressed for the Golden Globes several weeks ago.
“The variety of our skin tones can confuse, bemuse, delight, brown and pink and beige and purple, tan and blue and white,” Kahn intoned through speakers, before coming out to a standing ovation. “We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.”
Alice & Olivia by Sarah Shears
A cornucopia of splendid and eccentric glamour erupted from the Alice & Olivia presentation. Inspired by Salman Rushdie’s novel The Enchantress of Florence —a book that the author presented to the designer as a gift for her birthday—the new collection burst with both the exotic and familiar. Straightforward silhouettes were elaborately bedazzled, the styling was daring and sets were stunning.
The heart of the collection was born from a mural the designer began working on after being inspired by Rushdie’s book. A blown-up print of that mural, which was in the style of classical Indian paintings, was the back-drop to the most signifying set piece. A live action embodiment of the “enchantress” took place as two women in underpants were being body painted to resemble and come to life out of the backdrop. A tiered blue, black and white printed dress blended into the floor and background of the same print.
Speaking with the Daily Beast, the designer, Stacey Bendet Eisner, pointed out a gorgeous model with an afro wearing a gold sequined 70s style women’s suit with a T-shirt that said “be the change you wish to see in the world. “I made the whole theme of the show ‘be the change you wish to see in the world’ because the enchantress, the main character in the book, there’s this theme about a woman creating her own destiny in a man’s world.”
No other guest embodied the theme as well Huma Abedin, who wore a black lace top and embroidered knee length skirt as she spoke with the designer and gracefully made her way around the room, and Ken Downing, the fashion director at Neiman Marcus, complimented the theme of the show with a large pink planned parenthood pin on his lapel.
Jason Biggs pushed his way through the crowd and past a model who stood in front of a medieval tapestry (or facsimile of one) wearing a floor length embroidered and sequined dress with a panel down the center to create the illusion of a dress and a robe in a style that nodded to the dresses of France in the 18th century. Chinoiserie made its way into the show with two new takes on the famed cheongsam dress, and feminine velvet and lace pieces were mixed with an array of combat boots and pseudo goth styling.
The sets exuded with boho luxury with Oriental, Turkish and Moroccan rugs layered on top of another and the collection dabbled in almost every subculture and stylistic taste, but all with a super glam ostentatious twist.
Eckhaus Latta by Lizzie Crocker
Eckhaus Latta is part of the new frontier of brands that are shaking things up in Planet Fashion. The models are non-models. The clothes are de- and reconstructed and, well, not like what you see at most fashion shows. The concepts are reliably political, and the brand is frequently described as “avant-garde.”
It was all on display at Monday night’s show in a nondescript building in Koreatown: men and women of varying sizes and ages (models with wrinkles!); a collection that featured miniskirts with button-off blankets like sleeping bags, psychedelic floral prints, and shirting with bizarre, sculptural protrusions; a concept embodied in a poem with lines about “being beaten…because you live in a police state” and “lady liberty in a foam crown.”
You can always tell from the crowd if a brand is on Planet Fashion’s radar. Vogue sent Hamish Bowles, the New York Times’ fashion team was there, along with a lot of hip young people.
But it wasn’t totally clear to me what the fuss was about. Sure, the clothes were inventive and offbeat, but a fashion interloper might also describe them as, well, ugly.
In Planet Fashion, “ugly” isn’t always a bad thing: its inhabitants celebrate the Ugly Shoe, for example, like Celine’s orthopedic sandals. There was a terrific Ugly Shoe at Ekhaus Latta, a chunky rubber ankle boot that looked like something you’d wear to go hiking or puddle-jumping. The knits were the most appealing and commercial pieces in the collection, including a dress emblazoned with the words “Is This What You Wanted,” a Leonard Cohen song.
Is a Trump presidency what you wanted? the designers seemed to be asking. And in the show’s program: “How do you find yourself? An accountable person?” They didn’t offer any answers, but both the collection and its presentation were thought-provoking and challenging and unusual. It left this reporter scratching her chin.