Born into a family of couturiers, Rubin Singer has been an Associate Designer at Oscar de la Renta, Head Designer of three Bill Blass licensees, and then Head Designer of Kai Millia, started by Stevie Wonder’s wife.
The Rubin Singer brand was launched in 2007, and “has been founded on the principles of edgy and sophisticated design.” His website says the designer, “is not in the business of making clothes, but curating how someone is to look and live in the world.”
Singer’s work has filled the pages of Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, L’Officiel, New York Magazine, The New York Times, and The LA Times. He’s dressed celebrities like Glenn Close, Heidi Klum, Lucy Liu, Alicia Keys and, most recently, Singer was the designer behind Beyonce’s Super Bowl halftime show, dressing the mega star and over 500 back up dancers for the performance.
429Magazine interviews the rising fashion designer as he embarks on his most recent tour de force, starting with the Super Bowl and continuing with fashion shows across the world.
429Magazine: What do you love about working in the design industry, and, at the same time, what are some of the biggest challenges you have faced?
Rubin Singer: I love making people look and feel glamorous and strong. Surviving and succeeding in this industry is a daily challenge, it takes a lot of resilience.
429Mag: What are you inspired by? Predecessors, places, things?
Singer: Everything from paintings, films, music… I have based collections on the study of grammar and sentence structure as well as on light refractions through time and space.
429Mag: Who are your fashion/design/celebrity icons?
Singer: Thierry Mugler, Cristobal Balenciaga, Cate Blanchett, Beyoncé.
429Mag: What would you define your design aesthetic in a few words?
Singer: Social Armor.
429Mag: Who is the customer you’d say you’re designing for?
Singer: A strong, forward thinking individual that wants to look and feel sexy and empowered.
429Mag: You’ve dressed Solange Knowles, Fergie, Eve among others. Who have been some of your favorites, and who are some other dream clients that you would love to dress?
Singer: Of course Beyoncé is my favorite, along with Glenn Close and Tracy Bennett. I would love to dress Cate Blanchett.
429Mag: You dressed Beyonce, Destiny’s Child, and over 500 back up dancers for the SuperBowl. Congrats! Is there anything you can tell us about that? How does it feel? What were the challenge in planning the wardrobe of such a large production?
Singer: It was a huge undertaking and privilege. Working with such a mega star for a production of this magnitude was an honor and tremendous challenge. Once I got confirmation that I was chosen for the job, I was working on this project for six weeks straight.
I flew to New Orleans twice. On the second trip I was unexpectedly asked to stay until the show. I was working all of the costumes, tweaking and reworking everything as Beyonce refined her choreography and production of the performance.
429Mag: How was it working with Beyonce?
Singer: Incredible, she is one of the most involved, aware and insightful of all my clients. She is a true lady.
429Mag: What is your design process like, from conception to creation?
Singer: It starts with an incubatory period I conceptualize the vision, then I begin the development and the sketches. Lastly is the execution which is usually total madness and a race against the clock.
429Mag: You’ve said your 2013 collection was inspired by the pre-Raphaelite painting, “The Death of Ophelia.” You mentioned being inspired by the sharp dichotomy between serenity and beauty and the fact that she is dying. Beyond this collection, does this feeling speak to your philosophy of fashion at large?
Singer: Somewhat. I also look for a juxtaposition in my work, dark light, strong soft, death and serenity. This theme in particular was isolated to this particular collection.
429Mag: What have you strived to make new with your most recent collection?
Singer: I always work at evolving while staying constant. My latest collection is the most aggressive of all of my collections, which was the intent.
429Mag: How would you describe your personal style?
Singer: It depends on my mood and the occasion I am dressing for. From casual chic to “Rubin Singer haberdashery”
429Mag: What sort of music do you listen to, in general, and particularly when you’re designing or creating? Or do you like to work in silence?
Singer: I love opera, in particular Verdi, Wagner. I listen to a lot of progressive house and I love Grace Jones. I play music when I design at night.
429Mag: What do you like to do on a day off?
Singer: Spend time with my boyfriend. Sleep, work out, shop and see friends.
429Mag: How do you relax?
Singer: Good sex!
429Mag: How do you define success? Do you believe you’ve achieved it?
Singer: Social and cultural permeation and recognition. I think I am getting there.
429Mag: If you weren’t designing, what do you think you would be doing?
Singer: I almost became a classical ballet dancer. So either that or a painter.
429Mag: What’s next for you?
Singer: A tour in Asia with fashion shows in Bangkok and Tokyo.
Singer’s most recent Autumn-Winter 2013/2014 collection is named “Valkyrie’s Dominion.”
“The inspiration is women with power, women who dominate, and women with unbridled sexuality,” writes the designer on his website. “My heroine is multi-dimensional – both a very refined woman who loves the finest things in life and who at times…lusts for the underbelly of society under the cloak of darkness.
“She is a fearless social warrior who guards what is hers and conquers what is not. I have conceptualized my new lady warrior as a modern Valkyrie.”