Last night at Cipriani 42nd Street for Dennis Basso's annual Fur Fashion show
Models chatting it up backstage before the show. 7:15 PM.
The photogs move in.
  Dennis Basso celebrated his 20th anniversary in business with a huge version of his annual Fur Fashion show with 700 guests at Cipriani 42nd Street. A big turnout both young and not-so as well as the fashion press – Anna Wintour from Vogue and Cathy Horyn of the New York Times, also CJ Satterwhite of the New York Times. Cindy Adams was there with two of her furry babies. CNN’s Jeannie Wolff and on and on. Donald Trump was there with the misty Melania Knauss. I was seated in the front to the left of the runway with Rick and Kathy Hilton, Rena Sindi, Mama Ginnie Bond and dotter Ginnie Bond Donahue, Marisa and Matt Brown, Bettina Zilkha, Somers and Jonathan Farkas, Jennifer Creel.

People started arriving at 6:30 (the show was called for 7). Among the hundreds were so many who knew each other that it was one of those mass air-kiss catch-ups. Lots of flashing cameras. A bank of photographers already in place at the end of the runway, Patrick McMullan, Rob Rich, JH and the Digital, and several others catching the celebrities and familiar faces moving through. The ongoing photo-ops is one of the things that characterize these gatherings of the locals (of Manhattan and the world). It fascinates to see how many “civilians” are so camera ready. I think of Fellini or Billy Wilder. Andy Warhol.
Dennis Basso is the flashiest, brassiest, razz-a-matazzy-ish designer and purveyor of luxury-priced pelts in the business. He’s the pied-piper of his industry, followed everywhere by his army of glamma girls, many of whom have literally closets fulla-Dennis Basso’ furs. He’s a showman with a big smile and basso-voice that sounds like a loud and perpetual case of laryngitis. He is equally famous for his parties both here and in Southampton. The personality is ebullient, friendly, Mrs. Basso’s boy Dennis. Impresario comes to mind. He entertains the troops with his famous soirees, and his Fur Fashion show does the same.

Diana Ross sashaying down the runway
Chin-chilly/Russian Sable/Minks and Linx, broadtail, sheared, you can just see’em in Aspen, Gstaad, Vermont, the corner of Fifty-seventh and Fifth on a wintry day, all up there on the runway in floor-lengths, micro-minis, stoles, wraps; everything. And at the very end, with what has become the annual show’s signature, there is a final appearance by a famous mystery guest.

Last year it was Liza looking like the legendary Liza. The year before it was Joan Collins looking like her legendary. And this year we were graced with Diana Ross who swept out (and I mean swept out), in black paiettes, a vast and sweeping cape trimmed with what looked like loaf-size borders of black sable, and with a matching coiffure electrifying out to here-there-and-everywhere.

Miss Ross was dazzling! Totally! Glam or else. As she sashayed and flashed her jillion dollar smile down the runway to the bank of waiting cameras blasting flashes. The applause was resounding through the vast hall to the rhythms of La Ross singing a Neil Sedaka (who was present with his wife Leba) song. Then, show-over, out came the Star of the moment, Mr. Basso, more applause, more applause and then lights down. At the top of the runway, the photogs went into a frenzied the shutter shower, flash bam flimflam glam, Mr. Basso and Miss Ross.

At that very moment, the hall having emptied out, the Cipriani staff went to work taking out the runway, the aisles of chairs, while the guests adjourned to the large reception room off the hall for cocktails and hors d’oeurves. Forty-five minutes later, the hall was transformed into a dining room with tables set for 550 invited guests to dine on the famous Cipriani menu.
Dennis and Diana
Diana up close
Dennis and Diana embrace
Michael Cominotto, Diana Ross, Dennis Basso
Scott Curry and Diana Ross
Joy Rosenthal and Ike Tawil
Janice Combs
Michele and Larry Herbert
Kathy Hilton
L. to r.: Tim and Helen Schifter, Prince Dimitri, Dana Hammond and Dr. Patrick Steubgen, Bettina Zilkha, and Rena Sindi; Lizzie Grubman.
Sharon Handler and Amb. John Loeb
Cindy Adams
Alice Mason and Mario Buatta
Brian Stewart
The Donald and Melania Knauss
Nikki Haskell
Denise Wohl
Diana and Dennis close out the show.

See more of Dennis Basso's Fur Fashion show pics tomorrow on NYSD

Happy Birthday JFK

John Fitzgerald Kennedy was born 86 years ago today in Brookline, Massachusetts into a family of remarkable fortune and, as the world would come to see, a great misfortune also. He was murdered forty years ago this coming November 22.

Growing up in Massachusetts, I can still recall the opposition to his political career and especially his bid for the Presidency because he was Roman Catholic. Although it is laughable all these years later, it was commonly thought at the time, especially among the non-Catholic natives, that if elected, Kennedy would turn over his presidential authority to the Pope.

For as popular as he was as a man, with his circle, and with the press, he had many detractors, namely among the Republicans, who believed that he wasn’t up to the job. When he came home from his summit with Kruschev in Vienna, it was widely whispered among the cognescenti that he didn’t have the stuff to go head to head with the Soviet premier.

Nevertheless, the youthful and glamorous image prevailed and mesmerized. Esquire Magazine referred to him and Mrs. Kennedy as our first movie star President and First Lady. And possibly our last. The impact of the Kennedy family image, wars, scandals and all, was very positive on the American psyche. They represented both physical and intellectual vigor and an athletic vitality that exuded beauty and wit.

The man’s wit and intelligence, not to mention charisma inspired good works and noble intentions. Much of this was contradicted by foreign affairs and an accompanying foreign policy that drew us deeper into what would be called a “quagmire” from which, many years later, we finally withdrew, in a matter of hours. John Kennedy never lived to see the playing out of the dispatching of his “advisers” to Saigon during his Administration. There has been endless conjecture as to whether or not he would gone the route of his successor, Lyndon Johnson, into that quagmire which changed America irrevocably.

Kennedy’s admirers prefer to think that he would not have gone that far, that he would have seen the error of our ways in Southeast Asia. I doubt it. At the time, the consensus believed that we had to go into Viet Nam to prevent Red China (as it was called thirty years ago) from “taking over” all of southeast Asia (and then, of course, the world). Americans, at least, were generally unaware that there was already an ancient enmity between the Chinese and the Vietnamese.

The idea of the communist takeover of the world was so commonplace and ordinary that to think otherwise was tantamount to being either a dumb cluck or a commie sympathizer. This was the world in which John Kennedy came to power. The reasonableness, the common sense, that his wit relayed to the public consciousness, might have altered our world view, had he lived to learn from it. But alas, he did not; and we did not, and, as the Irish lyric goes, “Johnny we hardly knew ye.”

Photographs by Jeff Hirsch/


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