Better than the average NYFW show, Rubin & Chapelle lowkey popped off

Modern but not boring? A shockingly pleasant surprise!


Camille Harvell

(Photo by Camille Harvell)

Joey Hung, Editor-at-Large

Rubin & Chapelle’s new store — also the location for its New York Fashion Week showroom — opened a month ago at 964 Madison Ave. in the Upper East Side. Founded in 1997 by co-designers Sonja Rubin and Kip Chapelle, the brand’s ultimate goal is to create looks that ooze perpetual modernity. Brands that usually do this create collections that are a neutral color palette with one or maybe two statement colors. Normally I’m not a fan of this — I find it boring and repetitive over time. But this season’s cuts, patterns and colors were fun and innovative while still retaining that timeless modern aesthetic.

This season’s statement color was an amber and honey orange, melted onto a cropped blouse, pair of trousers, and what I can only describe as a robe with a big-ass button right above the belly button that could turn the robe into a jumper.

(Photo by Camille Harvell)

“Orange is warm,” Chapelle told WSN. “And our collection has a neutral palette so the orange provided a good counter weight.”

The collection was heavily inspired by the pandemic (shocking, no one’s heard that before). And although this wasn’t a unique origin story, their execution was more intentional than other designers who claim their collection was inspired by the pandemic and make an unrelated T-shirt.

Rubin and Chapelle’s Fall/Winter 2022 collection was inspired by Italian fashion journalist Angelo Flaccavento’s cartoon sketches of eyes. He began designing on April 16 at the height of the pandemic in 2020 to capture the different emotions he felt. 

“The eyes show all the different perspectives of the pandemic,” stylist Lia King said. “And they’re interpretive. Are you staring at the eyes or are they staring at you?”

Jeez, so philosophical.

“The pandemic changed each one of us,” Rubin said. “It touched each one of us differently, but at the end we’re all in this together.”

The designers played around with Flaccavento’s print in a cute, almost childlike fashion, which could be found inside pockets and secret slits of the clothes. The patterns were randomly scattered across their clothing as if they were naturally blown onto the fabric.

Although Rubin and Chapelle created clothes with flexibility and movement in past seasons, the FW22 collection sought more structure. Most notable was a white blouse with dominant shoulder padding and black billowy trousers to match. I particularly admired this look because it could have easily been a jester cosplay costume for some small-town Renaissance fair, but thankfully the idea was in the right designer’s hands. 

Although the clothes were structured, they were in no way stiff. All their clothing is made from sustainably sourced silk to ensure that clients feel luxurious and comfortable. Plus, Rubin & Chapelle have basically perfected creating versatile clothing. All of their clothes are made to be worn for any occasion and at any time of day.

My favorite item was a pair of shorts with Flaccavento’s cartoon eyes printed all over on them. 

“All of our looks are created with the purpose of versatility,” Rubin & Chapelle sales associate Zachary said. “They can be worn as loungewear, a night out with friends, to work or even to the gym.”

At first I was skeptical — they looked like glorified Nike Tempo running shorts — and how was I going to pull up to Nobu with those on? Em-baw-rass-ing. Maybe the clothes warmed up on me over time, or maybe Zachary just pressured me into believing the brand’s value propositions while I was stuck in their contained space, but after a while I could really see myself with these shorts on at the gym, at school or at Nobu. If someone would like to get me an Equinox membership or take me to Nobu — my email is at the bottom of this article.

The only disappointment of the showroom was that the clothes just hung off the rack. If models had worn them, the intentions of the brand and this season’s collection would have been clearer. Instead, the fits were squished together, making it difficult for us to see each item.

Using the idea of the pandemic was nothing unique, but the use of Flaccavento’s cartoons were cute and meaningful. Normally my brand at WSN is complaining about things, but unfortunately I enjoyed this showroom. With every passing season, Rubin & Chapelle implement just the right amount of colors and tools so that their collections retain their timelessness while remaining refreshing and fun.

Contact Joey Hung at [email protected].