Whether you were rooting for the Ravens or 49ers this past Super Bowl (or mauling guacamole while catching up on emails and occasionally peering up at the television – Who?! Me?!), it’s safe to say all eyes were glued to the screen when Queen Beyonce took the stage at halftime. The moves! The jams! And a Destiny’s Child reunion thrown in for good measure? It was almost too much to take. Almost.
It’s probably not worth describing what Bey was sartorially rocking that evening, since you’d have to be living under a rock not to recognize THIS number. The black leather lace ensemble was a collaboration between B and designer Rubin Singer, a man whose profile was hit with a dose of dynamite within the first few seconds of “Crazy In Love.”
Having just presented his Fall 2013 collection in New York, I caught up with the designer du jour to chat silhouettes, social armor and other queens he’s fancying these days.
Julie Bensman: New York Fashion Week is over! Congrats on your collection – I imagine you had a few more eyeballs on this presentation than last season.
Rubin Singer: It’s been amazing what the Super Bowl has ushered in as far as attention. When I went down to New Orleans for the game, the FW13 collection wasn’t finished. When I returned, I was working like a madman to finish it before Fashion Week. We were all scrambling in the days leading up to the presentation – but isn’t that how it always is? We had Cathy Horyn, Wall Street Journal, Glamour, all the magazines, just so many amazing appointments this season.
JB: Beyonce’s costume was an extension of the FW13 collection, yes?
RS: Thank God, yes! When Ty Hunter and Raquel Smith came in to see me early December, I showed them the FW13 storyboards. They loved what they saw and told me to keep doing what I was doing. I’ve been working with Beyonce for the past six years – first when she was on the X Factor in the UK. It was an honor to receive the assignment.
JB: What are some of your favorite looks in the new collection?
RS: I love all the gowns. I do a very big gown business, especially at Neiman Marcus, but I was particularly excited by the silhouettes this season – they’re much more controlled. My favorite looks include the red gown and the tulle with the leather bodice. I love their wearability – they’re more urban and not so precious, you know?
JB: With an influx of media attention and celebrity requests, do you find it hard to find your design focus?
RS: It has to be symbiosis of editorial, celebrity styling and retail. I’ve just come off a big celebrity project and so my next focus is retail. My customer ranges from the very young to the very old, and my size offerings range from 2-18. The Rubin Singer girl is less about a demographic and more about a state of mind. She is strong and likes to make a statement. Clothing is her social armor.
JB: I love that! And I love that your studio and showroom are in New York. How important is that to you?
RS: So important. I grew up in this business — I’m a third generation couturier – so it’s really second nature to do it this way. Dressmaking and eveningwear is a dying art – it can often be next to impossible to find the right staff for this craft. Producing gowns in New York ensures quality, delivery and control – plus, I visually drape my fabrics so there’s no design for someone else to do it. If my designs change, I alienate my customers and I am done. A gown has to be perfect and I want to deliver consistency, yet be constantly evolving. And I never take on business I can’t fulfill.
JB: What’s the best style advice you’ve ever received?
RS: It was from Ken Downing at Neiman Marcus: “Know your customer and give them what they want without changing your vision and who you are as a designer.”
JB: So what’s next?
RS: Well, I have dinner at Daniel in an hour. That’s tonight [laughing]. For March, I’m working on a big global music project and planning for a major show in Bangkok with L’Officiel, plus a few shows in Japan and traveling the Far East. For April, I’m focusing on designing resort and bridal collections.
JB: What was the last thing you googled?
RS: [Checking his phone] Queen of the Night. I was doing some research on different queens.
JB: A clue to next season’s inspiration?
RS: Maaaaaybe. You’ll have to wait and see.