The Dennis Basso presentation was—in a word—overwhelming.
The show was moved at the last minute from the Basso boutique on Madison to the chandeliered penthouse at the St. Regis Hotel—clearly the better location to house such a baroque line of eveningwear, but the sudden change in plans also flustered an already-exhausted crowd at the end of the week. Basso’s work doesn’t demand much from its viewers—the goal here is very big, very high-society glamour that’s pretty to look at—but it does beg for a certain level of reverence (or at least silent envy), which was mostly lost in the commotion of the day. As for the space itself, the penthouse might have achieved its desired effect had the guests known how to maneuver their way around it; while not a complicated setup, the arrangement was littered with mechanical snags, causing unforeseen bottlenecks and blockages at odd points in the room. This was all particularly problematic because unless you came to the Basso show looking only to mingle—or, for an even wealthier breed of Manhattan socialites, looking only to buy—this was not a collection to whiz past.
Inspired by the glamorous seaside resort of Deauville, France, Basso describes his muses for 2013 as “beautifully dressed, bejeweled and coiffed women on the terrace of the Grand Casino talking, smoking, sipping champagne and touching up their lipstick while their handsome escorts, in black tie, gambled inside.” Which essentially translates to everything overstated, and nothing unpolished: detailed hand embroidery, cut ostrich feathers with glass beads, tulle with ombre fringe and crystal embroidered lace and organza, and broadtail sable and chinchilla furs dyed to match the color palette of the collection. I suppose it deserves mentioning that the gowns were quite beautiful—albeit in a sort of automatic way—but there was also something a little too Barbie-esque about them that prevented me from imagining the collection divorced from its maker. This, I think, is Basso’s ingenious: To build a brand so deeply rooted in itself, and so rooted in its own daring potential, that there’s simply no use (or need) in arguing with it.