Put on your most glamorous party frock, and come on in, doll. You’re just in time to meet Dennis Basso, our fabulous couturier friend who has dressed chic A-listers including Charlize Theron, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Olivia Palermo. Recently honored as the 2016 Designer of the Year by the Fashion Institute of Technology, Dennis is as skilled in fête planning as he is in dress designing. A member of The Salonniere 100, the Forbes 400 of party hosts, Dennis’ cozy and creative dinner parties are some of the most coveted social invitations in New York. Grab a Fashionista, and listen in as Dennis reveals everything from the secrets to his entertaining success to his favorite party tips and products.
Congratulations on being named to The Salonniere 100. Why do you think so many New Yorkers nominated you for inclusion on the list of the nation’s best party hosts?
First of all, I’m very complimented to be included on The Salonniere 100. I think being recognized as a great host means you must be a continuous host. Practice makes perfect.
Dennis prepares for a dinner party at his Hampton’s home, Hotel du Cobb
How is planning a party similar to fashion design?
At the end of the day, they’re both about being creative. Creativity can be expressed easily when you’re entertaining, whether it’s with the menu, table setting, or even the mix of people you’ve invited.
You’ve attended some of the best parties in the world. Which were the most memorable?
Some of the early Met Galas that were run by Diana Vreeland were really special. They were pure fashion. Today, the Met Gala has become too Hollywood. There was also a birthday party I attended a few years ago in the South of France, where the ceiling opened up, and there were fireworks above us. And the dinner party I attended at Buckingham Palace was pretty beautiful.
Who is the most interesting person you’ve ever met at a party?
Joan Collins. And, since then, we’ve become very good friends!
Dennis Basso, his husband Michael Cominotto, and Joan Collins at a party in New York
If you could wave your magic party wand, who would attend your dream dinner party?
Marie Antoinette, Eva Perón, JFK, The Queen of England, Madonna, and, to spice things up, Rihanna.
You’ve dressed everyone from Nicole Kidman, Elizabeth Taylor, and Kelly Ripa to Nikki Hilton’s bridesmaids. Who are some of your favorite celebrity clients and why?
I loved working with Meryl Streep. I dressed her for “The Devil Wears Prada.” She was so polite and perfect. I also enjoyed working with Elizabeth Taylor. Everyone brings something special to the table.
Who would you most like to dress for a fabulous party?
Lady Gaga. I would want to collaborate with her to create something that reflects her current feelings and mood.
A dinner party Dennis hosted recently features his favorite blue and white color scheme
Getting Tipsy with Dennis Basso
Okay, Dennis, let’s get tipsy. What are your three best tips for throwing a memorable dinner party?
Always invite people from different walks of life who don’t know each other, have lots of good food and drink, and be a relaxed host. You set the tone for your party.
What would you do if you had just an hour or two to plan a last-minute dinner party?
I love spontaneity! Last-minute dinner parties can be as simple as grilling some steaks and asparagus and putting out some rosé. And there’s nothing wrong with bringing in food, taking it out of the delivery containers, and serving it on your best china and silver.
When you’re seated next to a shy dinner partner at a party, how do you break the ice?
I try to connect through the host. I’ll ask how they know the host or hostess. That usually snowballs into a bunch of follow-up questions and a great conversation.
What are your top three party pet peeves?
People who arrive extremely late, guests who leave right away, and people who aren’t contributors to a conversation. Being a guest at a party is a job. A guest has an obligation to be part of the entertainment.
Dennis Basso’s glamorous gowns have long been a red carpet favorite
Dennis Basso Plays Favorites
You have such fabulous taste, let’s play favorites. What’s the name of your favorite…
Event planner in New York City?
Florist in New York City?
Francis I silver
Antique French china like this
Christofle in the Hamptons and Baccarat in the city
Powder room candle?
This one, of course.
Powder room soap?
Thanks for stopping by, Dennis. We’ll see you soon in the boutique.
Photo sources: Dennis Basso, Patrick McMullan