Native American culture has emerged as a strong theme in the fall 2011 shows, and among those inspired by America's first inhabitants is the design duo Sonja Rubin and Kip Chapelle. Created under the brand name Rubin Chapelle, the couple's handling of the theme was thoughtful and understated. It would have been so easy to mess this up with clothes that looked more like costume than daywear, so it was nice to see their easy touch.
One long, liquid dress fell smoothly from a gathered shoulder to a loose, slim ankle. Another dress wrapped seductively to one side. Pants were either skinny or draped at capri length. Cast in black, gunmetal, dove gray and one of the season's brights — orange — the clothes are easy to wear, yet exude sophistication. One could see why the small company, which showed in its store in New York's trendy Meatpacking District, attracts its share of celebrity followers. A modified trench coat in silk would look great on either Oprah Winfrey or Iman, both of whom are clients.
Speaking of celebrity, in an age when designers tout the likes of Miley Cyrus and Keke Palmer as red-carpet sophisticates — quite a stretch indeed — it was refreshing to see Maya Angelou listed among this house's clients, alongside Angelina Jolie, Beyoncé, Cameron Diaz, et al.