Dennis Basso Discusses His Past, Present & Future As He Celebrates His Fashion Line’s 35th Anniversary

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Dennis Basso is a fashion icon. The womenswear designer has been creating fabulous confections since 1983, when he launched his eponymous label. Now, 35 years later, he is celebrating the anniversary of his efforts by launching his first-ever solo accessories collection. We sat down with Basso to talk about his legacy, the evolution of his brand and what he has planned for the future.

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What’s your favorite Met Gala memory?

My favorite memory was when Liz Tilberis introduced me to Princess Diana!

What celebrities embody the Dennis Basso brand now and why?

I think that we have a great variety of celebrities who wear my brand. Some of my favorites who truly embody the Dennis Basso name are Meryl Streep, Helen Mirren and Rihanna. We appeal to many different women of many different lifestyles and that’s what’s important in todays world. We need to be able to have a collection that appeals to every type, and we do!

How would you describe and define your line?

Ultimately, it’s elegant with a touch of edge, and is truly classic with a clear vision.

Who is your target shopper now and why? Has that changed over the years?

What’s really changed over the years is how product is seen; the internet has changed so much that our target shoppers are now a much wider group! Our best clients are international women with a pulse in the digital sector; they may see a fur online while on their plane, at a lunch or event at the ski slopes. Everything that we have in stores and boutiques needs to be seen also online.

How did you celebrate your 35th anniversary of the brand personally?

I held a very intimate lunch for my closest friends immediately after my fashion show. It was cozy, comfortable and under the radar, and mostly, celebratory.

What up-and-coming young models have ‘It’ in your opinion? And why?

That’s a great question. With so much strong talent, I’d have to say I immediately think of Karlie Kloss. She’s so elegant, so refined, yet also approachable and sweet, level-headed, intelligent and driven. That’s the sort of woman who I want representing my brand; a modern woman who does many, many things, but who also happens to model. Ms. Kloss leads a wonderful example of a life well balanced.

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You’ve had some really gorgeous shows over the years… if you had to pick one or two, what would you say have been your favorite venues?  

Great question.  It’s always so fun to put together these shows and the venues can be tricky to find since we invite so many people.  I’d have to say that two years ago we showed Fall/Winter at the Plaza Hotel — it was truly stunning.  We were in the ball room which is a classically beautiful venue of opulence, glamor and composure… a perfect mix of what the team and I have been working so diligently on!  On a smaller scale, it’s also always nice to host media in my showroom at 825 Madison Avenue.  It’s personal and allows me the time to really walk through the collection and to highlight all of the detail, and we can always go down to the store to see more, which is really a great experience.

You’ve been named one of the top sellers at Harrods in London — tell me, how do you think you’ve managed to carve out such a strong consumer base there?

London, like New York, is a strong market since it attracts such a wide variety of shoppers.  Harrods is one of my favorite stores and our recent renovation of the shop there has reignited the brand’s presence and has also attracted a new group of shoppers.  I stand behind the quality and excitement of my label and know that it resonates highly with people from all cultures, especially with our strong Middle Eastern markets that have easier accessibility to London than New York.  It’s always a special moment to walk into the Harrods location and to see women of all ages full of curiosity and interest as they try on different Dennis Basso pieces and browse the collections.

35 great years in the fashion industry — what’s next?

I am very excited to announce that I am launching my first capsule collection of luxury accessories!  While I’ve always had accessories in the past, this is the only time they’ve been available independent of a SS or FW collection.

The sounds really exciting; what are some of the products that will now be available?

We have gorgeous stilettos, over the knee boots, a variety of purses, clutches and shoulder-strap bags, some with sterling silver chains and natural and dyed fur accents, along with hats, scarves and gloves.

Any favorites from the collection?

Hard to choose — they’re all so beautiful and unique in their own ways.  But if I had to, I really love the red leather booted heals — they’re classy but still make a strong impression.  Also, I’m a big fan of the mink backpacks; they are so soft, unique, and come in a variety of beautiful colors.

How do you continue to design new items and to find new inspiration?

Surprisingly, that part is rather simple.  I design, show and sell, and then listen to the feedback from my customers.  It is so important to me that I take feedback and am aware of what the market is asking for, and then it really does become quite fun to try and align myself and produce those things.  There is never a dull moment!

What is your favorite thing to do while you’re not busy designing? 

Oh, I love to host my friends and family at our home in Watermill.  Whether it’s the middle of winter or a sunny August afternoon, I always have a great spread, stocked bar and some pups around!  It’s a special place for my husband and I and it’s so nice to know that everyone continues to come back for a guaranteed fun, welcoming atmosphere and get-away.