story by Lisa Radano
photos by Bonnie Rodríguez
Twelve floors up in a showroom with floor-to-ceiling windows, models in pale toned chiffons and satins stood poised, almost floating, above the teaming cityscape below. As they balanced on gold strappy sandals, the slightest muscle flex or pulse point set the gossamer nude and buff-colored fabrics aflutter.
This feather-light collection of nearly twenty pieces could easily-and gently!- be rolled up and packed into a carry-on bag with room to spare. Yet, for all the breathlessness of the clothes, they were anchored by canny construction – pleats, folds, windowpane paneling, and gussets of high-performance microfiber and weightless wool provided structure and stretch. Silhouettes were not intentionally referential, yet many looks did seem reminiscent of the early ’30s siren. A cream jumpsuit, caftans and liquid lean gowns with serious back-scape were often articulated at a point just slightly below the waist and tied in the signature Rubin & Chapelle knot. Kip Chapelle told me, “Our customer responds to the way that knot gathers together the look. We have done it often to the side; this collection we had it as a center focal point.”
On the less flowy side, there were knee-length sheaths, coyly deconstructed, with lingerie bodices peaking through the outer wool panels in a mock layering effect. A standout was a pale swimming pool-blue sheath with a chiffon cowl attached. Easy to imagine that scarf billowing while racing along in a convertible, billowing elegantly but never flying away, as the designers consciously imbued these looks with a practical charm and comfort. “We were trying to bring evening down to casual,” said Chapelle, referring to a “Le Smoking” style wrap dress in charcoal. “We put together the tux ‘cuts like a knife’ feel, but with the softness of a bathrobe.”