Dennis Basso fall 2011

Dennis Basso knows how to throw a party. He and his partner, Michael Cominotto, understand the importance of details like lighting, an interesting mix of people, delicious food, the right setting, and elegant touches like calligraphed name cards and menus, of course.

But their parties have more than that—that unexplainable element that makes a party an event, that makes you happy you're there, that you didn't miss this moment, this conversation, this relaxed vibe in a gorgeous (and sometimes formal) place.

On February 15, Dennis gave a celebratory dinner after his beautiful afternoon fashion show (see more on that from the Ethnic Chicks, aka Susan Fales-Hill and me), at the newly opened La Petite Maison, the New York branch of the legendary restaurant from Nice and London, owned by the attractive and charming David Barokas.

Located in a townhouse that was the seat of the Rockefeller offices in the '50s, and later Aquavit, La Petite Maison is a wood-paneled beauty of a restaurant, with soft lighting that makes everyone look like they got a good night's sleep—and who really gets a good night's sleep during Fashion Week?

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Deborah Roberts Divas Luncheon

After the Carolina Herrera show at Lincoln Center (Theme of the collection: “Ladylike,” a big relief in the days of “Wardrobe by Strippers ‘R Us,”) I dashed uptown to the legendary Apollo Theater for their first annual Divas luncheon.

Many of us got to fulfill a lifelong dream: to be on stage, granted we were just eating and talking, but we were on THAT stage which has been graced by everyone from Louis Armstrong to Mary J. Blige.

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Paulo Szot

It’s Valentine’s Day, and a young lady’s thoughts naturally turn to lust ... Or do they?

At lunch with a group of women recently, topic A was, “Where have all the gorgeous men gone?” Our television screens and big screens are filled with men who look like they’d do a fine job rebooting our computers but do little for any other equipment.

Earth to Hollywood: Only in a vintage episode of the Twilight Zone, where aesthetic criteria have been turned on their heads, do attractive women hunger for pale, flabby men with jeans sagging below their pale, flabby bottoms.

In my personal quest for male splendor, I went to see Paulo Szot, the tenor whose Slavic good looks and South of the Border sensuality (he’s Polish, but Brazilian bred) launched a thousand sexual fantasies when he starred in the revival of South Pacific.

His booming tenor would be more suited to an outdoor amphitheater like the Terme di Caracalla in Rome than the carpeted confines of the Café Carlyle. But that said, he brought new life to Rodgers and Hammerstein classics like “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face,” ripped apart Cole Porter’s “So In Love,” and when he brought out the tango undertones of that old chestnut “Bésame Mucho,” you wanted to bésa-him mucho.

No, alas, dear reader, I did not go home with him. That’s MY Twilight Zone fantasy.

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Most perfumes come and go, but some stay with you forever. Fracas is one of those outstanding scents.

I can remember the first time I came into contact with it as a child, on my beloved aunt who still wears it.

So imagine my excitement when I heard that Douglas Hannant was launching his own perfume with the house of Robert Piguet, the great turn-of-the (19th-to-20th) -century French designer who launched Fracas in the 1940s.

I knew Douglas and his partner, Frederick Anderson, loved the original scent, as we'd talked about it in the past.

Douglas Hannant de Robert Piguet is indeed a delicious scent, and I believe it is destined to become a classic. The launch party, hosted by Geoffrey Bradfield at the Payne Whitney mansion, had everybody buzzing about this amazing new perfume.

"This is a fresher, younger Fracas," said Anderson. "We stayed with the same floral base and added pear to cut the sweetness at the top."

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