Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Waiting for the show

Evening mist envelops Carnegie HIll. Photo: JH.
Wednesday, September 12, 2018. A lot of light rain, rarely heavy. And overcast; with temps in hi-60s lo-70s. Green green are the parks and the trees against the shiny wet roads and the wet dark grey pavements. No complaints over here.

It’s Fashion Week in New York, as I wrote before on Monday. On that day at 2 in the afternoon I went down to the Cipriani 42nd Street where many of the major charity galas are held, to see the 2018-19 fashion collection of Dennis Basso.

Dennis needs no introduction. I’ve known the man for maybe twenty-five years and he is still the same guy I first met back then on the social circuit. Big man, big personality, friendly, enthusiastic, corny, quick to laugh and meanwhile ... he’s a very skillful (and successful) businessman who wears his prosperity in his presence and his handshake on meeting.
Our friend Yanna Avis, having been away for the past 2 almost 3 months — mainly in Paris came back to this New York sunset from her apartment overlooking Central Park and the West Side skyline.
I tell you this because I hadn’t been to Dennis’ runway shows in a few years. I haven’t been to anyone’s (with a couple of exceptions) in that long period. For quite some time Ellin Saltzman covered the week for us, with a professional eye that is unerring yet open to possibilities to share with the reader. Not to mention her personal dramas of getting around town during the fashion melee of those days. Oy, to give you the Noo Yawk description.

We cut back on a lot of the coverage a few years ago because it was time consuming and unnecessary considering the media coverage it gets and the way the industry (and the world) was going.

So why am I telling you this? Because a few weeks ago I was at Michael’s for lunch and ran into Mr. Basso who often lunches there also. He asked me if I were going to his show. I said something non-commital to be polite. Frankly as much as I like the man, I don’t have a hankering to cover such things. However, he asked if I would and I politely said I would and he was nice enough to make sure I was reminded a couple of times just a day or two before, and so I did.
The fashion was also in the feet.
Just so you know. The new red shoes.
All that for why I went to Dennis Basso’s fashion runway collection. Or whatever you call it. And it was even raining on Monday afternoon with heavy back-to-business traffic jamming the streets and avenues on the way. Oy again. But I did. I’m a trouper (ha!) and a friend (yes I am), so I went. Actually….

I walked through the revolving door into the entrance gallery of this cavernous, cathedral-like interior (it was originally built as the 42nd Street location of the Bowery Savings Bank), into a happy bedlam of all kinds of people from business and social and fashion and media and people waiting for the show to begin.
Pulling up the plastic runners from the runway so the show could begin.
I already liked it. I saw quite a few people I knew and hundreds of people I didn’t know. The runway was set up from south to north in a square U-shape with assigned seating for what must have 300 or 400 people. I liked it. It felt like going into a big great party on a weekend afternoon (on a rainy day) and you walk into New York all lit up. The energy, the movement. And the fashion, all kinds of fashion.  The air was a breezy electric.

I wrote about Babe Paley and Charles James on Monday, in case you didn’t see it. That is history, even to those of us who grew up in and around it. Wonderful still to look at (even wear); but history. Today it is different and the crowd that filled this massive cavern of social New York activity is different in so many ways, not least of which is their merger with technology.

I found my seat which Dennis very kindly placed me in an advantageous location to see it all coming and going. I sat down in what was at that moment an empty row (because people were still mingling and milling about, on the lookout, seeing friends, making connections). In a couple of minutes the (then plastic covered) runway in front me was filling with people looking for their seats (and mingling and milling).
Our designer, Dennis Basso with Mary J. Blige and Michael Cominotto.
Jennifer Lahmers, Rosanna Scotto, Dennis Basso, Lori Stokes, Baruch Shemtov, and Brandon Wellington.
Susan Magrino, Martha Stewart, Nikki Hilton Rothschild, and Loraine Bracco.
They were too close for me to catch them with my camera so I focused on the shoes. That was difficult to catch too although an actress named Jessica Serfaty was wearing stilettos with Y S L on the heels. That was kind of interesting, no? There was all kinds of footwear and leather and glitter and skirt-length and shape (one young woman was casually wearing a cap and what looked like a black-net evening gown under a faux-worn light brown leather jacket. So?). 

The younger set of people of color own style today. They own it the way Babe Paley owned it 70 years ago (the olden days). They have the chic, the flair, the flash, the cool, and the posture. It is less apparent in their white contemporaries. Fashion is history before our eyes. And style is always The Plus.
Across the way from me.
Night time, or maybe anytime in the right climate.
Here they come, get your cellphones ready.
Simply silk and satin.
The show was called for two PM. It was almost two-thirty before a staffer pulled up the runway cover and the lights dimmed to dark, and the runway doors were lit. Then it began; loud, rock; BOOM, BOOM.  I don’t know what it was. Bang boom thud/bang boom thud/ Loud.  The models emerged, one at a time, taking the walk. Watching these girls navigate in the straightest of straight lines, faces expressionless, eyes precision direct on their destination, and wearing Dennis Basso’s sophisticated creation taking over our attention.

The vast dark room was silent at the sight of collection. Awe and interest, curiosity and attention. With the occasional can’t-resist cellphone reader. At this moment the cells were mainly turned into cameras. I look a photo of every item although a lot of it didn’t come out (blurry)(sorry folks/sorry Dennis). I blame my camera although I was moving around a lot in my seat.
More on the way.
And more, and more.
The opening number leads the way to the grand finale.
The parade of fashion, red/white/black being the colors, was fast-moving but evenly spaced so that every number had a runway to itself/herself for the spectator’s eye. But it moved along with such precision that after the final model exited, the entire cast of models back-to-back returned to the runway, reprising their last outfit for the applauding, whistling, hooting Dennis Basso collection, and finally followed by the Man Himself with ... omg, is that Mary J. Blige…???!!! Wow! Walking the walk of fame and applause. Mary looked great and gracious in her Dennis Basso creation.

What a day! What a show! What a good idea to get me away from my desk and my deadlines! Thank you Dennis; you did good!!
And the man himself with the Lady.
Meanwhile down in our nation's capital, they held the District of Fashion runway show. The semiannual event, which kicks off New York Fashion Week, featured local designers and models showcasing this year’s collections including our friends at Peruvian Connection, who were showing off their Spring/Summer 2019 collection ...

Contact DPC here.