NEW YORK — Having had a Madison Avenue store here for the past 10 of the 30 years he has been in business, Dennis Basso has upped the ante by relocating a few blocks north to a 10,500-square-foot space.
Over the weekend, the designer quietly opened the doors to 825 Madison Avenue. While a shopper browsed through the fur jackets, sequined eveningwear and crocodile clutches on the first floor on Monday morning, a crew of contractors was busy plastering and hammering the three floors above. During a walk-through — which at times was a bit precarious — Basso motioned toward what he described as a floating glass staircase, an expansive area for his first mink-covered midcentury furniture and a residential-type, fourth-floor office with a Juliet balcony. “It’s going to be like a mini Dennis Basso department store,” he said. “Being a true salesman, the dressing rooms are already in.” RELATED CONTENT: Dennis Basso RTW Spring 2014 >>
With a 15-year lease that will be nearly a $3 million commitment in rent this year, Basso is far from winding down his career. “Most people would be looking to ease up after 30 years in business, but I have never felt more excited,” he said. “I always say that when you are doing something that you love, it’s not work. When I moved to Madison Avenue 10 years ago, I thought that was the pinnacle of my business career. Now here I am in a space three times the size with an expanded accessories line.”
His wholesale showroom will be housed on the fourth floor, and on-site seamstresses were sewing away in what will be an atelier, which he noted was uncommon for the neighborhood, “very much like Paris in the Fifties,” said Basso, adding that an attendant will always be at the ready with silver-tray espresso service for shoppers. “We’re back to customers really wanting to be treated like customers again. When customers are treated well, they really want to return to that store, or maybe even call before to see if that salesperson is working,” he said.
Basso has enlisted four architectural and interior specialists to design the landmark building, which previously was occupied by a Dolce & Gabbana store. Sawicki Tarella is handling the historic facade, John Lindell is taking care of the interior and Kenneth Alpert will handle the interior design of the offices. Alpert has created all of Basso’s homes. Each of the three sales floors will have dark gray slate floors and glass walls so that the emphasis is on the clothes, and the first floor features screens playing runway show footage. The boutique also has 30 feet of frontage on Madison Avenue.
The new monochromatic contemporary layout should help boost 2014 sales by 10 percent, according to Basso, who is predicting a 6 percent gain this year. The midcentury home furnishings, blankets and throws — something Basso has done on a customized basis for interior designers in the past — will now be offered to shoppers.
Having introduced ready-to-wear six years ago, which now includes resort and pre-fall, the designer plans to introduce more daytime pieces. A bridge line for department stores and specialty stores is also in the works potentially for next year, but Basso was quick to note “not a navy blazer because you don’t need to come to Dennis Basso for a navy blazer.” (Retail prices would range from about $150 to $500.)
The boutique will be open seven days a week through the holidays, and its grand opening party is set for Dec. 10. While 16 staffers are based in the uptown location, the company also has a 30,000-square-foot facility in Long Island City that is used for a design studio and manufacturing. With five other boutiques and concept shops, the designer is still getting used to his new Madison Avenue address. “This location is significant to where the Dennis Basso brand is going,” he said. “Let’s put it this way: The day I went into business in 1983, I did not imagine having a store next to Dolce & Gabbana and Valentino a door away.”
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast