Hal Rubenstein talks about 100 Unforgettable Dresses

Sarah Jessica Parker in a not-so-easy-to-forget gown. Photo courtesy of ”100 Unforgettable Dresses.”

magazine fashion director Hal Rubenstein drops into Coach at Aventura Mall tonight from 5 to 7 p.m. to chat up his book 100 Unforgettable Dresses and autograph copies. We get the scoop on his favorite frocks.

Of the 100, which is your favorite and why?

I honestly don’t have a favorite. That’s why the choices are neither categorized nor in any sequential order. I wanted the reader to be surprised. Of course, I had to start somewhere, so we begin with Versace’s Safety Pin Dress on Elizabeth Hurley, because it immediately proves the power of a dress to make a person world famous overnight. Certainly it helps to look and be built like Ms. Hurley, but her appearance in Versace’s gown only proves the book’s definition of unforgettability. It’s the right dress, on the right woman, at the right time.

Which has the best story behind it?

Some of my favorite stories are the ones that involve the great Hollywood studio costume designer Edith Head (she factors into the choices on Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Bette Davis and Elizabeth Taylor) because she was such a savvy judge of personality and perception and a tough-as-nails bitch. I also love the story of Ginger Rogers shedding feather dress, Princess Diana’s “Revenge” dress, the secrets behind Rita Hayworth’s “Put the Blame on Mame’s” strapless gown, the truth behind the origin of the Little Black Dress, the rebellious independence that sparked Marc Jacobs’ grunge collection and the immediate rekindling of England’s love of the monarchy caused by the sight of Kate Middleton in her wedding gown by Alexander McQueen.

Which do you feel people recognize most and why?

It’s surprising how many of the looks have an immediate, “Oh my gosh!, I remember that!” effect when the pages are turned. A few of the most notable are Princess Diana’s humongously ugly wedding gown, Marilyn Monroe’s halter dress for The Seven Year Itch, Diane von Furstenberg’s wrap dress, anything worn by Cher and, of course, the most infamous red carpet dress of all: Jennifer Lopez in Versace’s plunging tropical gown.

How many of them have you seen in person?

I have been lucky enough to see a majority of the dresses selected in person, either on a red carpet, at their introduction during shows, in private and museum collections or having been in the room when the performer was doing their stuff. Lucky me.

What makes a dress unforgettable?

A dress can be unforgettable for several reasons. It can be responsible for changing the way we view a particular woman. It can spark a trend. It can change the way the public perceives beauty. It can have an amazing story behind its creation. It can change the way we look at ourselves. And finally, we just can’t, for whatever reason, every get that dress out of our heads.

Find Rubenstein tonight at Coach at 19501 Biscayne Blvd. in Aventura Mall.

Says Rubenstein: “This is not a book for a museum bookstore. This is a book for women who love to shop.”