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RUBIN CHAPELLE : 410 WEST 14th Street, NYC

June 5th, 3PM

Words, Images Judith Ecochard
Images Courtesy of Rubin Chapelle

A quick visit during the recent Meatpacking District’s Design Week events- had us wanting to revisit the architecturally striking Rubin Chapelle store at a more quiet time.

And with our eyeballs on the luxe attire and accessories, designed by the FIT grads’ duo KIP CHAPELLE (American) and SONIA RUBIN (Austrian).

Lucky us, we got an “escorted” tour of this airy, loft like space (designed by Annabelle Selldorf- of Neue Gallery fame). The whimsical Gregory Coates sculptures, poured concrete floors, and exposed brick walls lent an element of drama to our spatial experience. The store, in situe since 2002 was a pioneer in this former "wprking" slice of the Big Apple…with the legendary opening night party still conjuring up fond memories.

Rubin Chapelle, began with their “anchor collection of RTW in 1997…and since 2002, have moved towards evening and event wear,” according to Frank Damone Milliren, our ‘tour’ guide and Creative Director.
Produced in America (YEAH) out of the finest leather/knits (Italy), and European silks…and superior denim (Los Angeles) for the separate men’s and women’s jeans line 192 DOVES™ (launched in A/W 2006)---the Rubin Chapelle aesthetic is one of the “highest craftsmanship, true pure classic silhouettes,” effortless draping, and details without the fuss and frills.

Milliren compared Rubin Chapelle’s oeuvre to the career of artist Paul Klee---we were thinking the visual transition of an Impressionist painting down to the essential essence of a Mondrian.
Same point…

A series of signature tops and flowing dresses made from premium silks “that verge on crepe”--- are reworked with slight detail changes each collection. All feature elegant drapes/ruching in neutral tones that are season-less and versatile.

Meaning we can see wearing a sleeveless,fluttery top as our uniform for all occasions--- with one of their hip leather belts, strappy sandals and a pair of those fab dark denim jeans…
…while professional gals could wear one under a tailored suit for work and then keep the top on, switch into a long evening skirt, throw on some bling--- and violà… a black tie outfit.

Dresses too, including the stylish “Tucked Pleat” that was on a mannequin, are equally as dress up/dress down multi-tasking.

The polished differences with Rubin Chapelle attire, are the refined finishes-like expertly sewn pearl edged seams, for example. The judges would approve.

Other looks we coveted include a sensuous gauzy raw silk number, laboriously (2 weeks!) hand painted and available made to order too…

And a classic sheath that the First Lady probably already has in her wardrobe.
We loved how the basic, flattering shift came in a wool gabardine, waffle silk wool, linen and for summer, a stretch khaki…all with subtle detail nuances…like piping or a tuxedo tail.

Our favorite color, a celadon green with tranquil gray blue overtones…is a prominent tone this season. And a shade that can work on anyone.

The eveningwear--- including a gaggle of Carolyn Bessette (Kennedy) worthy Bridal gowns ($2600-$5800)…are for customers that appreciate the way a fabulous frock can enhance the body…comfortably. These are must try on attire to fully appreciate ‘it all’--- we think…these are clothes that beg to be touched, feel great on--- but do not SCREAM.

Given the customizable options, i.e. modesty panels/camisoles/lace inserts inside a striking CHARLESTON gown, or adjustable raised eyehooks etc, we felt that the gowns would work are most female forms too…not just the tall and skinny.

Channeling that “English Manor feeling” with the initial unisex PRESTON urban bag…a full on accessories collection debuts this Spring.

Rubin Chapelle’s clean aesthetic manifesto gets a glorious translation here- in the iconic shapes, the equestrian style hand dyed leather straps, and the structure of the polished Italian leather or brick woven, Egyptian raw cotton samples that we saw.
Nice Touch: The microfiber linings, the proprietary brass hardware, the convertible collapsible opening---for the satchel into tote haulers---including our top pick, the ESTATE (with a without a leather halter).

These keepers, priced from around $1200-$2400 (leather)…$650-$1250 (canvas)---are not fad items. They are meant to carry one’s life around, forever.


Handmade and fitted, the boots we saw had a Edwardian feel to them…if Robin Hood didn’t mind looking rich while stealing from them. A creamy fringed lace up pair with coin closures and a comfy ½ inch wedge--- custom made for some Left Coast chicette, is a worthy substitute for the Uggs of yore. (Prices start around $2600)

Belts are also hand worked of plush leather/suede--- with just that right amount of grommets hardware to distinguish them ($220-$280).

192 DOVES™
Rubin Chapelle wisely “… redirected what they’ve done for fashion… into denim…with a clean simple aesthetic collection,” Millitren clued us in.
“It’s all about the fit…with 2% stretch,” he added “but engineered back pockets that hit –for a flattering look.” We wanted to walk out with a pair on… we loved the raw denim black, the cool canvas waistband-curved for gals, triple stitching, hand lined pockets, and the overall design that wasn’t over the top. So streamlined smart we thought.

Figures, celebs ranging from the statuesque Uma Thurman to Oprah-to actor Jude Law wear them.

And the name: 192 countries- on the planet at inception... and “doves for peace.”