MANH September 2013 : Page 158

[Satire] The Thrilla in ChinChilla in celebration of deSigner Dennis Basso ’S 30th anniverSary we aSked comic and Fashion Police hoSt Joa n R i v eRs to interview the nyc-baSed furrier. hilarity enSued. IN GOOD COMPANY Dennis Basso started his business selling furs out of the trunk of a town car in NYC. Thirty years later his designs are favorites of socialites and celebrities, including his good friend Joan Rivers. Joan Rivers: So, 30 years! Dennis Basso: 1983, I had my first fashion show. You were there, at the Regency Hotel. We’ve maintained a solid friendship for 30 years. A friendship on two levels: One: You’re an adorable, funny, sweet, good man. And two: The talent was there. I wouldn’t have cared if you’d opened up the back of your trunk and sold out of that— which you did. Not dressed, dress. Keep it present tense. Absolutely. And even at the height of “anti-fur,” you always knew how to do it in such a way that people still had to have it. Of course, you had to lie, maybe, and say, “I found these dead sables in my backyard.” make it look special?” Not like Grandma’s coat. What age should a woman start wearing fur? And of the new celebrities, who would you like to see in fur? a green chinchilla for a J.Lo music video. Let’s talk about some of your milestones: Liza Minnelli’s wedding... Right, what else! You’re very underrated here—I think if you were in Paris you’d be “le Dennis.” Your shows are staggeringly good. And then, the fur—to take something and reinvent it, make people “have to have it”—that’s genius. I did. But you just knew, “Yeah, he’s here to stay.” It’s been an amazing evolution from there to a flagship store on Madison Avenue, being at Harrods in London.... We dressed some of the most famous women over the years. Years ago, girls went off to college with a fur coat from their fathers. Then it became not hip. Now it’s come around again. High school girls have fur collars on jean jackets. They’re wearing fake and real fur, and buying retro fur in thrift shops. And celebrities are all wearing it. Wouldn’t it be fun to design something for Lady Gaga? Something totally outrageous. Or... ... Rihanna. Oh, I’d love that; she can carry off anything. When Liza went on that crazy wedding journey wearing my white mink coat that day... And every third lady walked in wearing a Dennis Basso fur. Also, the shawls I did for Hillary Clinton when she went to India as first lady... being inducted into the CFDA... my 20th anniversary, when Diana Ross came out for the finale in front of 700 people at Cipriani... I was just in South Dakota, and ladies came up to me and said about you, “He makes me feel glamorous in continued... I always approached fur thinking not as a furrier, but as a designer: “This is a great design—what fur could I use to Yes! Actually, we have something out for Rihanna. And we did 158 manhattan September 2013

Satire

The Thrilla in ChinChilla<br /> <br /> In celebration of deSigner Dennis Basso’S 30th anniverSary we aSked comic and Fashion Police hoSt Joan RiveRs to interview the nyc-baSed furrier. Hilarity enSued.<br /> <br /> Joan Rivers: So, 30 years!Dennis Basso: 1983, I had my first fashion show. You were there, at the Regency Hotel. We’ve maintained a solid friendship for 30 years.<br /> <br /> A friendship on two levels: One: You’re an adorable, funny, sweet, good man. And two: The talent was there. I wouldn’t have cared if you’d opened up the back of your trunk and sold out of that— which you did.I did.<br /> <br /> But you just knew, “Yeah, he’s here to stay.” It’s been an amazing evolution from there to a flagship store on Madison Avenue, being at Harrods in London.... We dressed some of the most famous women over the years. <br /> <br /> Not dressed, dress. Keep it present tense.<br /> <br /> Absolutely.<br /> <br /> And even at the height of “anti-fur,” you always knew how to do it in such a way that people still had to have it. Of course, you had to lie, maybe, and say, “I found these dead sables in my backyard.” Right, what else!<br /> <br /> You’re very underrated here—I think if you were in Paris you’d be “le Dennis.” Your shows are staggeringly good. And then, the fur—to take something and reinvent it, make people “have to have it”—that’s genius.I always approached fur thinking not as a furrier, but as a designer: “This is a great design—what fur could I use to make it look special?” Not like Grandma’s coat.<br /> <br /> What age should a woman start wearing fur? And of the new celebrities, who would you like to see in fur?<br /> <br /> Years ago, girls went off to college with a fur coat from their fathers.Then it became not hip. Now it’s come around again. High school girls have fur collars on jean jackets. They’re wearing fake and real fur, and buying retro fur in thrift shops. And celebrities are all wearing it. Wouldn’t it be fun to design something for Lady Gaga? Something totally outrageous. Or... ... <br /> <br /> Rihanna. Oh, I’d love that; she can carry off anything.<br /> <br /> Yes! Actually, we have something out for Rihanna. And we did a green chinchilla for a J.Lo music video.<br /> <br /> Let’s talk about some of your milestones: Liza Minnelli’s wedding... <br /> <br /> When Liza went on that crazy wedding journey wearing my white mink coat that day... <br /> <br /> And every third lady walked in wearing a Dennis Basso fur.<br /> <br /> Also, the shawls I did for Hillary Clinton when she went to India as first lady... being inducted into the CFDA... my 20th anniversary, when Diana Ross came out for the finale in front of 700 people at Cipriani... <br /> <br /> I was just in South Dakota, and ladies came up to me and said about you, “He makes me feel glamorous in River City,” or wherever the hell they are. Who inspired you this season?<br /> <br /> Great American fashion icons— Gloria Guinness, Babe Paley,C. Z. Guest. Everything is made right here in in the U.S., in Long Island City. We have 30,000 square feet where we watch every step, from the first sketch to the final product.<br /> <br /> You’re always sketching. I’ve never seen you without a pad.<br /> <br /> You can be lying on the beach in Monte Carlo... ... And I’m saying, <br /> <br /> “You have a pen, Joan?” Yeah, and I’m thinking, why are we in thongs? What’s wrong with this picture? Anyway... what made little Dennis Basso into a designer?<br /> <br /> I grew up an only child, with a very fashionable mother and her sisters. I loved being around women. At 7, everybody was outside playing cops and robbers, and I was in the kitchen, sketching. I have a letter from my kindergarten teacher—she’s in her 90s now—saying she remembers me as a young boy who only wanted to design hats with construction paper.<br /> <br /> How did you have the guts to start your own business?<br /> <br /> I’d applied to 10 jobs, and a fur Company hired me. Little did I know I was going to be designing, shipping, selling—I loved it. One day a friend called and said, “I’d like a jacket wholesale.” I asked my boss, Mr. Fishman, and he said, “Oh, we don’t give anybody wholesale.” So I went to this guy I knew and said, “My cousin’s friend wants a fox jacket.” He said, “No problem. It’s $300.We’ll take it out to Long Island.” <br /> <br /> So, this mushroomed, and finally Mr. Fishman found out and fired me. I said, “Well, you didn’t want to sell wholesale!” I told my friend, “Th is was your idea; you got me fired.” And he said, “You know <br /> <br /> what? Let’s go into business.” What’s one thing no one knows about you?<br /> <br /> That I’m actually happy to stay home. Th e greatest day is a Sunday when I don’t have to shave or put gel in my hair or take off the T-shirt and sweatpants. I can just stay home with my husband, Michael [Cominotto], and the dog and eat all day.<br /> <br /> Adorable. And at your wedding, the coatroom... It was a Dennis Basso fashion show. Years ago, when Le Cirque was on 65th Street, I’d go in for dinner and the coat-check girl would say, “Oh, Mr. Basso, we’re having a very big Basso night tonight!” <br /> <br /> Do you prefer old New York or new New York?<br /> <br /> People are much too casual for my taste in the “new” New York. <br /> <br /> I don’t want to go to the Met and see somebody in flip-flops.<br /> <br /> Shocking. People go to houses of worship and weddings and funerals inappropriately dressed.<br /> <br /> I like some rules. I don’t want to go to ‘21’ or Le Cirque and see somebody without a tie.You don’t want to wear a tie?Don’t go there. Or women who don’t want to get dressed up.And people’s manners are better when they’re a little dressed up.Manners are very important.<br /> <br /> You know, I get on a plane—I’m 80 years old, and I’m a celebrity.That’s two: old lady, celebrity.And still, I’ll stand there with my luggage and say, “I’m 80 years old. Is there anyone here from England to help me? Where are your manners?!” <br /> <br /> My mother thinks some women ruined it for themselves with Women’s Lib. It was the ’60s— no, ’70s.<br /> <br /> The ‘70s—that was Gloria Steinem—that f**king hypocrite who’s had a big fight with me.Meanwhile, the hair was bleached, the makeup was perfect, she was in a bikini and doing Pilates. And she was saying, “No, nothing was looks.” Then why don’t you take off your makeup, Gloria, if it’s not about looks? What are you talking about?

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