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Q & A: Hal Rubenstein

Hal Rubenstein
Hal Rubenstein
Photo by Brad Barket

Examiner recently spoke with fashion icon Hal Rubenstein. He shares with us his favorite looks, the business of fashion, where he dines in LA, and more.

Q: You are regarded as one of the most influential fashion tastemakers to arrive to the industry, how has that helped shaped your opinion on the retail market?

A: All those things that others claim are sizzling hot, trendalicious, of the moment and “it” have never been much more than something amusing to look at. Clothes don’t matter unless they flatter, unless they fit into people’s lives, unless they are worn. Fascinating as some may be, clothes that have no life off a runway are costume and I hope they find a home in a movie. I’ve always felt this way, way before I realized that anyone was paying attention, so nothing has changed. Ask any designer what his/her biggest thrill has been and they will invariably say that it was the first time they spotted their clothes on by someone they didn’t know. That’s because someone choosing your work gives it validity and purpose. The customer will always be the ultimate arbiter.

Q: Your latest collection with HSN is very trendy yet has a lot of wardrobe staples such as leather skirts, printed trench coats and jumpsuits, what was your inspiration behind the collection?

A: Because of the media’s obsession with youth, celebrity, the extreme and the hot flash, many women who don’t frequent the red carpet are confused. They feel fashion is ignoring them, their lives, their age group and their body type. If you feel that, then you’re my girl. Because I find women – all women - endlessly fascinating: And I believe the best way for a woman to show herself off in today’s world is with tailored clothing crafted in figure-flattering, shape-showing durable, and attention getting fabrics.

I have to differ with you. I don’t think leather, prints and jumpsuits are trendy at all. They are now proven elements of the modern wardrobe. And that’s why I trust them. Women wear them with ease and comfort and you can’t feel confident in clothes without comfort. Clothes should make you happy. Clothes should make you proud of yourself. Clothes should get you noticed. If you don’t want anyone to see you, then why not just stay home. Everyone is worth noticing.

Q: Who is your favorite designer at the moment?

A: Fashion is so diverse it is impossible to just point the finger at one. Besides, there is just so much talent out there. Raf Simons singular eye is redefining couture. Narciso Rodriguez is fashion’s most romantic minimalist. Joseph Altuzarra turns disparate elements harmonious, and Karl Lagerfeld startling imagination is still the best show in town. But there are so many more. The best part of shopping and style today is that you don’t have to choose just one.

Q: You currently serve as Guest Fashion Director at WWD Magic, for those of us who are style challenged can you share with us how trends are created?

A: There you go with that word again. I beg you. If you focus your wardrobe solely on trends you are wasting your time and money. Trends are merely suggestions, a new concept that may work for you.

The reality is, no matter the myriad of choices out there, whether you find them online, in a box store, or a boutique, whether they are edgy or classic, it still all comes down to you in front of a mirror. Creativity creates these new ideas, but if they don’t work in your life, if they don’t make you smile when you look in that mirror then hold onto your credit card.

That said, what you may have to adjust is how you see yourself in that mirror. Too many women are overly critical of themselves. Give yourself a break. Find three things you like about that reflection and find clothes that enhance those traits. The best trend is looking your best – all the time.

Q: Describe your style in three words...

A: Uplifting, dramatic, effortless

Q: The perfect color for the summer is…

A: The one you look best in. I love blue – all shades but turquoise. But that’s just me.

Q: When in L.A. your favorite place to dine is…

A: Comme ca or a Chinese restaurant in East LA