Ivana Trump’s style defined the ‘greed is good’ era

“Ivana Trump’s look wasn’t for everyone,” designer Dennis Basso said Thursday afternoon, hours after former President Donald J. Trump announced Mrs. Trump’s death. her ex-husband, in a statement posted on his social network. platform, social truth.

But it was, for the decade in which she and Mr. Trump first made their public mark, the epitome of a certain go-go 1980s New York style. between them, caught by Tom Wolfe’s “The Pyre of the Vanities” and defined by chinchilla stoles, leopard-print shirtdresses and fitted Upper East Side pants in soft colors. One in which your limo could never stretch too long, your hair and shoulder pads could never be too big, or your furs too fabulous.

And for nearly 40 years, even as styles changed dramatically, Mrs. Trump and Mr. Basso remained two of the most consistent proponents of this paradigm.

Mr. Basso, 68, said he first met Mrs. Trump in September 1983, when she came to her first show at the Regency Hotel on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

She sat front row on her show that day next to Joan Collins, another diva of the decade, and then came backstage. “She said in that fantastic accent, ‘Dahling, I really don’t know you. But we are going to be friends,” recalls Mr. Basso. “I thought, ‘Oh, my God. Like, how could this be?

The Trump Tower had recently opened near Bergdorf Goodman. Not everyone was in love with the couple living in the triplex at the top, but it was hard to argue that they didn’t perfectly capture the “greed is good” philosophy of the time.

The day after Mr. Basso’s first show, Mrs. Trump materialized in his Seventh Avenue showroom and marveled at the size. “It’s smaller than the closet in my dressing room,” that’s how she said it, recalls Mr. Basso.

But by the time she left, he had an order for seven beautiful pieces of fur.

“One was a shantung maxi coat of pale silver silk lined with deeply sheared magenta fur,” Mr Basso said. “She bought a chinchilla coat, a sable jacket, a large cashmere evening shawl. Remember the year! If you said you bought it now, it would be, for example, ‘Have you lost your mind?’ But it was the height of all that glamour. Everyone was on this bandwagon.

The relationship between Mrs. Trump and Mr. Basso was by no means exclusive. Most of her costumes and evening dresses came from Arnold Scaasi, Oscar de la Renta, Bill Blass, Lacroix, Halston and Versace.

But because Mrs. Trump was “living in her own movie,” as Mr. Basso put it, and because she considered the most important scene to be the one in which she got out of the car to make a grand entrance, the Outerwear became the mainstay – usually fur – and he was the guy to get it.

At first, Mrs. Trump bought on Mr. Basso’s rack. Then things got collaborative.

“We couldn’t have made the shoulders bigger or fuller,” Mr. Basso said. “She always wanted to show off her size. She would call and say, “I love it. Can I have it in purple? ‘I like this. Can I have it in green? One year around Christmas, she called and said, “I’m in Aspen. I want a red sheared mink ski suit. Not being a great skier, I said, “But when you fall, it’s going to be wet.”

Mr. Basso paused for effect, then added, “She said, ‘Dahling. I don’t fall.

So Mr. Basso left, and soon enough, Mrs. Trump was cruising the slopes, as self-assured and unashamedly opulent as ever.

Did she usually pay for her clothes?

“Always,” he said, though he added that she wasn’t shy about invoking the “friends and family” discount.

Which suited him. “It was a symbiotic relationship where no one got more than the other,” he said.

The business Mrs. Trump generated for him as a muse and supporter – in addition to her friendship, she hosted Basso fashion shows at her husband’s Taj Mahal hotel in Atlantic City – was “enormous”, said Mr Basso.

Tastes changed some in the early 1990s. Minimalism and PETA were no furrier friends.

But Mrs. Trump had grown up in Czechoslovakia, shortly after it became a communist dictatorship. Once she arrived in the United States and became insanely rich, she had little interest in transforming herself into the existential Helmut Lang and deconstructing Martin Margiela.

“She came to America from a communist country,” Mr. Basso said. “She was going to say her word.”

This included when Mr. Trump left her for a younger woman in 1990: Marla Maples.

Soon the tabloids her husband had used to create buzz for him and his properties became weapons with which Mrs. Trump bludgeoned him. She made the 1990 Met Gala her celebration of liberation, complete with a real makeover.

The hot-rolled skyward hairstyle was gone. In its place, a bouffant inspired by Brigitte Bardot. The dress was a tight black off-the-shoulder dress. Her date that night was Boaz Mazur, Oscar de la Renta’s handsome sales manager.

“She was really able to dust herself off and keep going,” Mr. Basso said, recalling the line she later uttered during an appearance on “The First Wives Club”: “Don’t get mad, get it all!”

In 1992, Mrs. Trump was granted sole custody of her children with Mr. Trump – Ivanka, Eric and Donald Jr. – and signed the deed to a $2.5 million townhouse on East 64th Street.

One morning, Mr. Basso picked up the New York Post to find a story that said the house had been broken into.

He said that after his initial horror at learning of the theft, he was shocked to read that what was missing was an astronomically expensive coat from his label. “It was hanging in my office,” he said. Between his move from Trump Tower and the renovations to his new home, he said, “one of his aides sent him to safety.”

After that, Mrs. Trump took part in fashion shows for friends such as Thierry Mugler and even closed Mr. Basso’s 1995 collection at the Pierre. Joanna Lumley mimicked Mrs. Trump’s look by playing a killer cougar on the British sitcom ‘Absolutely Fabulous’.

The show was presented in the United States by Comedy Central and became a camp classic that cemented Mrs Trump’s haughty queen image – and her ability to laugh at her own legend.

Of Ms Lumley, Ms Trump said: ‘She was good, but I could have done better,’ Mr Basso recalled.

From there, Mrs. Trump began working at House of Ivana, a beauty and clothing company that was briefly run by Riccardo Mazzucchelli, a suave Italian executive who two years later became Mrs. Trump.

Like his predecessor, Mr. Mazzucchelli had an explosive personality and a father from whom he inherited much.

(According to The Daily News, Mr. Mazzucchelli was the founder, along with his father, who worked in the mining sector, of a “planning and architectural engineering company that designed infrastructure for cities in Nigeria, Uganda and in other countries in Africa and the Middle East”. ”)

Naturally, Mr. Basso was present when Mrs. Trump married Mr. Mazzucchelli in 1995 at The Circus in New York. And naturally, he was there for her during the tabloid divorce that followed less than two years later.

“We were friends through good times and bad,” he said. “We used to say it’s not Christmas every day.” (Mr. Mazzucchelli died in 2017.)

In the 2000s, Mrs. Trump’s life mimicked her “absolutely fabulous” alter ego.

She started dating a dashing Italian actor named Rossano Rubicondi, who was 23 years her junior, and she got a two-hour special on Oxygen called “Ivana Young Man.”

Friends have warned that the age difference could become an issue.

But, Mr. Basso said, Mrs. Trump once again had the perfect one-liner: “I’d rather be the nanny than the nurse.”

In 2008, she married Mr. Rubicondi at Mar-a-Lago, the Palm Beach, Florida club that Mr. Trump calls home.

Mrs. Trump’s close friend, Nikki Haskell, was a bridesmaid. Ms. Haskell’s date was Mr. Basso, and the chocolate wedding cake was 12ft tall and came from Germany, according to People magazine.

Mr. Basso said it was probably the oldest wedding party in history. And it was so much fun.”

But soon after, it began to look like all was not well with Mrs. Trump.

In 2009, Mrs. Trump divorced Mr. Rubicondi. That year, she was escorted off a plane after a profanity-filled tirade delivered to children playing in the first class aisle.

But Mr. Basso said that while she was describing things with him, everything was fine. Mrs. Trump, he said, wanted above all to be known as a good mother. And her relationship with ex-husband Mr. Trump had been friendly in recent years.

Yet, Mr. Basso admitted, he has seen Mrs. Trump a little less in recent years.

This was partly due to the pandemic, but also to more lasting changes in the social landscape. “Le Cirque, Mortimer’s, Gino’s, the Four Seasons,” he says. “They don’t even exist anymore.”

Yet Mrs. Trump never lost touch with Mr. Basso and her husband, Michael Basso. “I spoke to her two weeks ago, my husband texted her last week and we saw her maybe a month ago for dinner at Cipriani,” he said.

As he remembered, she showed up on time and in great shape. “It was a sudden surprise,” he said of her death. “I’m a bit depressed. I am very depressed.

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