Dennis Basso Gave an Epic Speech at the FIT Awards

by Sydney Sadick

The Fashion Institute of Technology hosted its annual awards gala at The Plaza Hotel last night with cocktails and a delicious three-course dinner. The evening—which was black tie, but of course—honored Dennis Basso as Designer of the Year, as well as Laura and John Pomerantz as Patrons of the Year, and QVC as Retailer of the Year. Basso, an F.I.T. alum, had no shortage of support in the room, which was full of #DBGIRLS dressed in his designs. Par exampleParis and Nicky Hilton (and their brother Barron), Hilary Rhoda and husband Sean AveryIvana TrumpCarol AltJill Martin (who presented the QVC award to Mike George, CEO and president of the company), June Ambrose, and lots of women from the socialite circuit.

If anyone can give a great acceptance speech, Basso definitely scores points. He’s funny, charismatic, raw, and genuinely appreciative for his career. Below, pieces from his speech that kept everyone’s eyes on him…

On his beginnings…

“When I was a little boy and everybody was outside playing, I was inside trying to make a dress. I was also surrounded by my mom, her sisters, and cousins—and these were extremely stylish women who always looked perfect. I don’t think they realized that they were making an impression on me, on how I would view women, respect women, how I think women should always be beautiful. As a child, to be in fashion or show business was such an amazing thing. I was torn between both of them, and ultimately…I ended up with both professions all rolled into one.”

“Thirty-three years ago I opened up my company and it was amazing. I had my first fashion show at the Regency Hotel, and a year later I had my second fashion show right in this ballroom. Tonight, I look around the room and I see my family, my close friends. Tonight there are five different noteworthy things going on, and to get my friends to all come and be dressed and be part of it—I cannot tell you what it’s like for me to stand here and see that dress, and that dress, and that dress. It’s like a moving museum! It’s unbelievable.”

On his early days with QVC…

“Twenty-five years ago I went to QVC and everyone was like, who watches that? And I go, I don’t know, but I know one thing—I want to be on television! They put me on a year later. December 7—it was 10 p.m. and it was the highest growing show in fashion that QVC had to date. I said, baby, we’re home!”

On his first day as an F.I.T. student…

“…I was an only child and spoiled—they never said no…My mom gave me her Bloomingdale’s card. I bought a beige suit with yellow and green plaid. I brought it home and hung it up in my bedroom and my father asked if I was going to a costume party. Long story short, I walk into the Feldman Building on 28th Street on one of the first days of school and cross to the left of the guard station and there’s a boy in the same suit. [Laughs] But tall and slimmer. What’s even more crazy is 44 years later, he’s sitting right over there! He also was an only child and had full use of a Bloomingdale’s card. We’d go to textile class and I [would say], should we go to Bloomingdale’s and have lunch at Zuma?”

Afterward, guests enjoyed a delicious dessert spread (post caviar and filet mignon), including a lemon ice-box cake, a blackout cake redux, and mini macaroons, chocolate truffles, and madeleines. “I put work and play all into one big party,” Basso said during his speech. “I wake up, [and] get dressed every day thinking I’m going to a party, even if it is or not.” Dennis, last night was one great party.

The gala benefits the FIT Educational Development Fund, which helps FIT cultivate the next generation of creative leaders through enhancing programs, developing new initiatives, and providing scholarship funds to the college’s most promising students.

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