How Dennis Basso Is Keeping Busy During Quarantine

by Eddie Roche

In today’s “Cabin Fever Diaries,” we catch up with legendary designer, Dennis Basso, to see how he’s been passing the time in quarantine. He might just be the busiest self-isolator out there! 

Where are you right now and who are you with?
I’m sitting on my terrace at my home in Watermill with my husband, Michael Cominotto, and our puppies Lucy and Sam. It finally feels like summer!

Have you learned anything new about yourself since social distancing?
I realized that I’m actually quite content being home compared to when I’m usually running around to design meetings and such. And although I love socializing, I’ve done pretty well with going with the flow and staying home.

What’s the biggest change in your routine?
I’d have to say not rushing around to get ready for the day — shaving, putting on a suit, running out the door. All of that is gone, which I actually don’t miss.

What do you miss most about life before quarantine?
As many of you know, I love to entertain, so that has been difficult to put on hold. My husband and I love to welcome in family and friends for large dinners, holiday brunches, cocktails, etc., and we truly miss everybody’s presence.

Dennis Basso (Courtesy)

What do you do to decompress?
I’ve actually really enjoyed the time that I’ve had to take long, long walks. I’m usually so busy that I don’t have the time to just carve out a few hours to explore and appreciate where I am.

Have you been cooking?
Yes! And although it’s not something new, I’ve really taken to devoting a lot of time to cooking up the most amazing dinners. In the city, whenever we don’t have evening plans, we’re both in the kitchen trying new recipes but I have been happy to have this extra time because I’ve picked up baking! Just last night I made a fabulous cheese soufflé — it was to die for. Oh, and like the rest of the world, I’ve become a banana bread expert!

How are you sleeping?
I’ve always been a good sleeper, thankfully! But lately I enjoy going to bed a little earlier. Sometimes with the help of a little sleep aid and sleeping in a little later. Not all joys have been lost!

What’ve you been watching on TV?
I’ve enjoyed some great shows: The Crown, Unorthodox, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and I just finished Hollywood, but I haven’t really gone down the rabbit hole of watching anything and everything. I was never a huge TV watcher to begin with, but I have enjoyed some of the quality shows…..and between politics and news coverage of the virus, I find its slightly exhausting, so I try to direct my attention elsewhere.

Any old movies?
Oh yes! Just recently watched Mildred Pierce with Joan Crawford, Gilda with Rita Hayworth and Imitation of Life with Lana Turner… and of course Auntie Mame, the original, for the 1000th time.

What are you doing to help others?
Well, we’re still very involved with our charity work. It’s nice to stay connected and involved and to offer support. I also love to call people I may not have spoken with in a while and who may be felling a bit more isolated— there’s such a deeper connection via telephone vs. text. I’m glad to see phone calls making a comeback!

If you could be in isolation with anybody, who would it be?
First off, my husband, of course, so I’m lucky to have him here. But it is funny imagining someone else. I’ve learned that no matter how gorgeous or smart or interesting somebody is, after a few days that all fades away and you’re left with who they really are. So I’m lucky to have the company that I do.

Dennis Basso (Courtesy)

What is the weirdest thing you’ve found yourself doing during isolation?
Ha, good question. I’ve found I’ve been more project oriented, you know, the little things — organizing china or crystal, gardening etc., but maybe not always finishing the task at hand before finding a new one! I have a lot going on here, which has been keeping me occupied.

What are you most anxious about?
I think like most people I’m anxious about the state of my professional life; reopening factories, my boutique on Madison Avenue, my work with QVC in Philadelphia, etc. Where is the world of fashion going? How will I launch my next collection? It’s a lot to think about.

What do you think the world of fashion is going to look like after this?
I’d like to think that after going through this… we’ll all come out more sensitive, gentler, more aware, more in touch, because you really realize how fragile our current state is. Our professions, our fashions, our friendships, all of it can be fleeting. I truly look forward to seeing everybody with hopefully a new, refreshed sense of gratitude.

How has this experience changed your outlook on life?
I think that when you feel like life is going alright and you have all your ducks in a row….that’s when something like this happens. It’s simple, it’s just the way the world works. Like many of my friends and peers, we’ve had to take a step back to evaluate our goals. There’s been this giant wrench that’s been thrown into our routines, and I’m very proud of the way most of us are handling the sudden change. You really do have to seize each day because we never know what tomorrow will bring.

What’s the most surprising thing about this whole experience?
I think the fact that most of the world, I’d say 95% of the population, has headed the precautions and followed the rules in all countries where there is proper governance and guidance, and that has really surprised me. I’m very proud of everybody for being so patient and strict.

How are you working from home?
I’ve been busy with my creative team working on Spring 2020 and am certainly anxious to get back to ‘work’ because we need to be in the studio to do a lot of what we do. As for my QVC collection, we’ve set up a studio in my home with professional lights, camera and we’ve been doing our shows from my dining room. QVC has been so incredibly helpful with figuring this all out with me.

What’s the most interesting part of working from home?
It’s funny because working from home… you don’t have anywhere to go! You’re at work already, so you miss that transition moment of getting dressed, etc, and you’re just there. That’s funny to me. Luckily, I’ve been able to stay efficient. I do have to say… I’m not the biggest cheerleader of ‘working from home forever!.’ because I really miss the social interactions of everyone at the office and studio and even on the streets of Manhattan.

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