In 2009 he revealed his long-term relationship with his partner, Gerardo Vidaurre, had ended 18 months earlier. "I became single but not by choice, which was heartbreaking. I put my life on hold for two years waiting for him to come home." Unable to process the grief — "It hit me at a bad time and I just couldn't breathe" — he found it hard to get out of bed. His elderly parents — "the most important people in my life" — flew over from America for a month to look after him. "They just got me back on track and I started to put my ducks in a row."
He decided he could expand his interior design business, which he started a decade ago, and focus on his "BDL by Ben de Lisi" collection for Debenhams. "After 30 years of nurturing this brand — this child — it was time it went out and took care of Daddy for a change. When you're so close to something, you just don't realise how valuable a brand is. Because you're just dealing with the crap that's on hand, and the banks. You never realise what you can do when you put everything into perspective. I began to think: who's going to take care of me? I don't have a wife or a husband who's going to watch over me. I wanted the brand to pay me back." He also wanted to work from home — a ultra-stylish but modest terrace cottage built in 1862 on the river by Battersea Bridge he shares with his three French bulldogs, Luca, Noah and Tea.
Ben de Lisi with his three French bulldogs, Luca, Noah and Tea
Ben de Lisi is an American born fashion designer based in London. He is best known for his collections with high street store Debenhams. In 2009 he revealed his long-term relationship with his partner, Gerardo Vidaurre, had ended 18 months earlier. "I became single not by choice, which was heartbreaking. I put my life on hold for two years waiting for him to come home." Today he and Gerardo are seeing each other again but he's learned how important it is to be more independent in relationships.
Today he and Gerardo (the outdoor manager at Chelsea Gardens) are seeing each other again but he's learned how important it is to be more independent in relationships. "My mother says, You have to love them, but love yourself a little bit more. You have to keep a little bit back for yourself'."
Born in New York and raised in Long Island, he studied sculpture at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. Designing his own menswear range in 1979, he moved to London in the fashion industry in 1982. He started working with Debenhams in 1992.
De Lisi won the British Glamour Designer of the Year award in both 1994 and 1995. He has been showing at London Fashion Week since 1995, and went on to establish his own company in 1998. After shutting his shop in 2008, which had provided evening dresses for Kate Winslet (2002 Oscars red dress), Helena Bonham Carter and Anjelica Huston, De Lisi approached Debenhams to launch a day wear range, and was subsequently asked to redesign the Principles range.
Approached by the Department of Health, they offered him an open agenda to pick any project he wanted to redesign. Thinking he would pick a bathroom, De Lisi helped the NHS to redesign their hospital gown in 2010.
He acted as a mentor to budding Fashion designers in the British TV Series 'Project Catwalk'.
Ben received an honorary Doctorate from the University of Northampton, 14 July 2006. On the 17th July 2009, de Lisi was conferred with an Honorary Degree by the Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen.
De Lisi lives in a Victorian cottage by the River Thames, close to Battersea Bridge. He used it as inspiration for his Debenhams homewear range BDL by Ben de Lisi, with a logo based on his first French bulldog, Ella. It became the most successful launch Debenhams has ever made.
In 2010, Ben De Lisi began to make regular appearances in the fashion slot on It Takes Two, the spin-off to the BBC One show Strictly Come Dancing.
My Favourite Dress by Gity Monsef, Samantha Erin Safer and Robert de Niet
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Antique Collectors Club Dist (December 16, 2009)
Amazon: My Favourite Dress
This lavishly illustrated book reveals the emotional attachment, shared by designers, celebrities, models, photographers, stylists, and fashion editors, to the most treasured item in their memory or wardrobe: their favourite dress. Over 100 designers and key industry players from around the world have described the very personal reasons behind their choices. Through text, photographs by leading fashion photographers, fabric samples, original sketches and other ephemera, their choices come alive on the page. The dresses selected by these individuals are intriguing, and they highlight the intimacy that the designer or wearer feels with their garment. This book gives the audience an opportunity to explore how a dress can be a creative statement, a symbol of celebration, power, and individuality. My Favourite Dress is about choice, memory and a moment; a must have for any fashionista. Designers and celebrities featured include Manolo Blahnik, Naomi Campbell, Helena Christensen, Jasper Conran, Cindy Crawford, Tom Ford, Dolce & Gabbana, John Galliano, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Betty Jackson, Calvin Klein, Heidi Klum, Christian Lacroix, Alexander McQueen, Kylie Minogue, Issey Miyake, Kate Moss, Mary Quant, Oscar de la Renta, Zandra Rhodes, Clements Ribeiro, Paul Smith, Gwen Stefani, Anna Sui, Valentino, Vivienne Westwood, and many more.
More Fashion Designers at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Art
More LGBT Couples at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Real Life Romance
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