by ATFDC Contributor Susan Stipanovich
Even before I arrive at the Alton Lane showroom in DuPont Circle Hal Rubenstein, Fashion Director of InStyle, has the entire room charmed. He is reclined casually on an overstuffed leather couch as he chats earnestly with a few early arrivals about his work at InStyle, Details, Interview and New York Magazine, as well as his time working with great restaurateurs and chefs such as Michael White, Fabio Trabocchi, Steve Hanson, and Sirio Maccioni of Le Cirque. Women nervously approach him and inquire about taking his photograph, murmuring about how handsome he is (and he IS very handsome) and blushing as he graciously allows them to snap photo after photo. All parties revolve around Rubenstein in the cozy showroom as guests sip cocktails and admire the impressive suiting that the boutique offers.
As well-dressed Alton Lane employees usher Mr. Rubenstein to the book-signing table, he notices that the books are tucked away in a nook that isn’t easily accessible to guests. Flashing a mega-watt smile, he quietly asks if the books might be moved closer to the signing table so that guests wouldn’t need to leave the showroom. Seeing the girl’s reluctance to move the considerable mound of books, he smiles again, waves to another well-dressed gentleman, and the two gracefully lift the bench holding all the books and place it inside the showroom. Looking pleased, Mr. Rubenstein beams back at the shocked book girls and goes back to signing copies of his latest release, The Gentry Man: A Guide for the Civilized Male.
Rubenstein’s other book, 100 Unforgettable Dresses was also available and was very popular with the ladies in attendance who snapped up copies and excitedly approached Mr. Rubenstein to sign them. With his impeccable, scrolling penmanship, Rubenstein would carefully inscribe each book with a special message to the books’ owner, asking questions and inquiring about how they have enjoyed the book so far. Each guest left the signing table clutching their newly personalized copy and gushing, “He’s just so nice.” As the evening progresses, we find out that the unstoppable Mr. Rubenstein is a veritable Jack of All Trades, having dabbled in an endless list of hobbies and professional pursuits. He has acted, sang, danced, taught high school English, and co-edited an encyclopedia on American film directors. He has written about film, investment photography, movie stars, street musicians and strippers (both sexes), edited speeches for speakers at the United Nations, waited on tables and been a line cook, and run a catering business. By the end of the evening, with all guests charmed and in possession of his latest literary creations, Hal Rubenstein makes one last pass over the room, thanking guests and commenting on how much he enjoyed meeting them.
At the end of the night, guests exits the showroom chatting about their endless admiration for Rubenstein and enthusiastically listing a new ‘bucket list’ for themselves.
All images by Alex Kafka for All Things Fashion DC
Susan Stipanovich is a stylist and writer who lives and works in Washington D.C. She researches counter terrorism methods and international security sector reform in Africa and the Middle East by day as a Department of Defense associate and spends her free time curating a fashionable lifestyle through her blog Hepburn Loves Givenchy.