I've always rather fancied the idea of living in a hotel. While others obsess about properties with multiple rooms, the notion of residing in just one has much more appeal. Room service, fresh towels, a Do Not Disturb sign on the door and a stream of new neighbours has to be the perfect domicile arrangement — particularly if that room is in Claridges.
The glorious five-star hotel on Brook Street is the “home away from home” for the style cognoscenti during London Fashion Week and Diane Von Furstenburg has even decorated 20 of its suites. Though I have only been there a handful of times they’ve all been memorable, as I met Tom Ford in the bar when he was still Gucci’s creative director and dodged Vogue’s Anna Wintour pacing the lobby in her trademark trench coat.
It was the Wintour moment that sprang to mind last week when I returned to the hotel to meet American designer Dennis Basso.
The celebrated fur fashion king, who dresses everyone from Upper East Side socialites to hip-hop artists, was in town to launch his first fragrance.Interestingly to me, he also dressed Meryl Streep for her Wintour-inspired role in The Devil Wears Prada. Spot a good fur on film and you can be certain it’s a Basso, be it the full-length white foxes draped over Catherine Zeta Jones and Renee Zellweger in Chicago or the sleek skin fur cape modelled by Charlize Theron in Snow White and The Huntsman.
Some day he will stage an exhibition of his pelts made for pictures, but right now it’s all about the fragrance. The eponymously-named scent which Basso says “comes in a bottle that looks like jewellery” is rather splendid and has top notes of bergamot, lemon and green apple, a heart of orange blossom and a base of cashmere wood.
“It was the right time to launch it,” adds Basso, who fittingly, is a big bear of a man with a deep roasted voice. “It took a whole year of testing, smelling, adding and taking away to make this happen and create a fragrance that lingers without being over-powering.” Among those currently doused in Dennis Basso is Joan Rivers, a close friend and big fur lover.
“I’ve spent many a Passover with Joan,” says DB, who goes on to say that without the American Jewish woman’s love of fashion, “I’d be standing on a street corner with a paper cup”.
He certainly has come a long way from selling pelts from the boot of a rented car. But with fur celebrity comes Peta protesters, though there is a faux range for those with a conscience or less cash. Basso also designs gowns that are so spectacular, I’m embarrassed to say I squealed when I saw them. Now available exclusively from Harrods, I have mentally circled the dresses I want, so in the unlikely event that I get rich, I’ll be able to order them over the phone from my room at Claridges. Until such time, a spritz od Dennis Basso will have to suffice.