We always love book signings. Getting up close and personal with with an expert—be it a designer, stylist or editor—on how they translated their craft into their own words is always a candid and personal experience, even if its just for a moment. So we were extra excited when we got to drop in on Fashion Director of InStyle magazine, Hal Rubenstein, as he was signing copies of his new book, a gorgeously illustrated coffee table volume called, “100 Unforgettable Dresses.” The book documents taste-making looks from runway, film, television, the red carpet, as well as royalty and politics, acknowledging and embracing the lasting impact they’ve had in fashion, popular culture, and our own lives.
Held at the Soho location of Joe’s Jeans, the book signing event blended premium denim with glamorous gowns, punctuated with champagne and delectable nibbles. Sitting casually in the back of the store, Rubenstein welcomed visitors and guests and very graciously answered questions on his new tome. Here were a few of ours:
SCS: Congratulations on the book, it is simply stunning. Where did the idea for the book come from, is it something you’ve been thinking about for awhile or did you just wake up and say this is the right time, this is something I need to do now?
HB: Well, Harper Collins were looking for a book for me to do and I just felt like I wanted to show how pop culture was affected by fashion not how fashion was affected by fashion. And I think fashion can be so many other places besides on the runway. You know, it comes in movies, and television and in the street and in politics and in comedy and I just felt like we should all realize it, that this is how people respond to the fashion world. It’s one thing to look at a bunch of pretty dresses but when you have a story behind the dress it makes it a lot more fun to understand either how a dress is constructed or how it affected the person who wore it, or, for that matter how it affected how we dress. And I just thought, theses are the stories that nobody’s told before.
SCS: So once you decided that would be the premise of the book. How did you choose the content? Did you have specific dresses in mind from the start or did with a wider variety and then narrow it down? And did it take very long to decide?
HB: No, it took me no time at all to put it together. Well, not to put it together but for me to come up with the 100 dresses that I wanted, I’ve had many of them stuck in my head for years. They are very much my choices though, choices that affected me and I was curious to see how they affected other people or to tell people why had affected me and why they had affected many other people, either at the time or why they still do presently.
SCS: It’s become somewhat of a trend lately that designers or other experts in the industry and have been writing books. Do you think that you bring something unique to the table in writing about fashion, as a professional writer and editor yourself?
HB: Many people think that I come from a perspective of fashion and I don’t. I come from a perspective of a consumer, of a populous, of someone who lives in an urban society who loves pop culture. And I think that’s what people are looking for. I wanted to address this in the way that the average person looks at these things. It’s not about a designer, we’re about the consumer, we’re talking about the fans, we’re talking about the students, we’re talking about the enthusiasts.
SCS: So is that who you would say is the targeted audience for “100 Unforgettable Dresses”?
HB: Absolutely. It’s not written for a person with a technical background. People who have a background in fashion don’t need this book, they can enjoy the book because they’ll love the stories, but it’s not about that. There are stories about certain dresses that will teach you about fabrication, and how things are made, other ones are enlightening in terms of where we were as a culture, like in the 60’s and 70’s and 80’s, or how designers defined sensuality at different points in time. It’s just for the enthusiasts and people who can appreciate beautiful things and the stories that are behind them.
SCS: Thank you so much for your input. Lastly, what are you most excited to see on the upcoming fall’12 runways?
HB: I just want to see, basically, the more individualistic sides of the designers. I want designers to go to their core. I want them to think with their guts, instead of something in a global marketing system. The more a designer does with what’s true to them, the better their work. And I think, especially in New York right now, there are so many young designers who really have a voice, and really have an eye. And the best part is, each once can come up with a vision of how they see beauty and how they see fashion and because of that, I find it very exciting to be in New York right now.
Snap up a copy of “100 Forgettable Dresses” for all the fashion enthusiasts on your holiday gift list! Available at Amazon.com.
Photo Source: Second City Style, pinkmemo.com
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