Dennis Basso always packs a crowd for his runway shows and Tuesday afternoon was no exception. Paris and Nicky Hilton, Ivana Trump, Martha Stewart, Hoda Kotb and Neil Sedaka were in the crowd along with the designers’ loyalists Jamie Tisch, Somer Farkas and Marjorie Harvey. Tori Praver, who appears in Basso’s fall ads with Chanel Iman, also turned up in the front row.
Having written his own songs for 60 years running, Sedaka provided the music for the finale — a half-English, half-Spanish track that Basso flipped for. Produced by David Foster last year, the song’s title “Do You Remember?” applied to many of the VIP guests, including Sedaka, who met Basso 35 years ago when he worked as the receptionist in a beauty salon that Sedaka’s son liked.
Trump also said she met Basso around that time, but after visiting his showroom at a friend’s recommendation. “It was about the length of five front-row runway chairs. I went there and Dennis was late. It was a nine o’clock meeting because I was working on the Grand Hyatt Hotel. I was pregnant,” she said. “Dennis came running in and I bought at that moment four fur coats. We’ve been friends ever since.”
Trump said she was “one of his first muses,” and in the Eighties she closed one of his runway shows modeling a long sable coat. “It was during the time when you were not supposed to be wearing fur. He said, ‘Are you afraid of the press?’ and I said ‘no,’ because I came from a Communist country. The right to freedom is important to me,” Trump said. “Nobody is going to tell me what I am supposed to wear and what I’m not supposed to wear. There was not one negative comment in the paper.”
The Hiltons know the designer from their childhood days, and even walked in a show years back. More recently, Basso designed the bridesmaid dresses and Paris Hilton’s dress for Nicky Hilton’s wedding last month to James Rothschild. (She prefers to be known as “Mrs. Rothschild,” according to Basso, who said Paris flew in Monday night from Zurich, where she has been hunkered down with her boyfriend Thomas Gross.)
While fashion shows can be a media circus, the same might be said of the current presidential race. Kotb said, “Humaneness plays a big part in it. But at the end of the day, when you’re getting ready to pull a lever for whatever presidential candidate it is, you do go with self-preservation — whoever you think can help you or protect you.”
Politics was a nonissue for another one of Basso’s guests, Judy Giuliani, whose husband Rudy ran in 2012. Asked if she planned to get involved with the campaign, she said, “Today is about fashion.”
Basso couldn’t have agreed more. He planned to spend Tuesday night at a stag party hosted by his husband, Michael Cominotto, at Chevalier, in the Baccarat Hotel & Residences.