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David Rubin, a gregarious fashion executive who launched a second career in the entertainment industry in his 40s, died Wednesday from heart failure at his Bedford, N.Y., home. He was 53.
Rubin was president and creative producer of Rubin Studio Worldwide Inc. and a founding partner in BFF Entertainment, a multimedia entertainment company. Earlier in his career, he cofounded Jennifer George Inc., a designer sportswear firm, and later became a consultant to J.Mendel and Bergdorf Goodman.
Rubin grew up in New Rochelle, N.Y. When he was 13 years old, he attended the New England Tennis Camp that summer, and met Jennifer George, a fellow tennis player. According to George, she was in the worst group and Rubin was one of the best players in the camp, but they bonded over wearing proper tennis attire on the tennis court.
“When I got home, I told my parents, ‘I met my business partner,’ ” said George on Monday. After Rubin graduated from Emory University and George graduated from Sarah Lawrence College (and spent a year at Parsons School of Design), they went into the fashion business together.
Rubin handled all the business operations and they stayed partners for 20 years, she said. George was among a handful of young designers heralded in the late Eighties as the next generation of fashion designers, which, besides George, included Cynthia Steffe, Rebecca Moses, Charlotte Neuville and the late Carmelo Pomodoro. Jennifer George closed in 1998.
“He was very creative and bigger than life,” said George. “He was funny and kind and the first person to make a connection for you. It was his joy to make matches [personal and business] that he thought would work. He was responsible for at least a dozen marriages.”
Gilles Mendel, creative director and chief executive officer of J.Mendel, said, “He always brought the greatest level of dedication to everything he did for J.Mendel — from training sales people in our retail stores to creating special events, he always overdelivered. We just loved him,” said Mendel.
After doing consulting work, Rubin became partners in BFF Entertainment with Meryl Poster, president of television at The Weinstein Co. BFF Entertainment targets the 18- to 34-year-old demographic through its properties, which include the Web site bff.tv and an acquisitions and development studio that creates and distributes content through the Web, television and films. He produced TV pilots for Bravo Television, MTV Networks and HSN, among others.
Rubin coproduced the hit game show “BFF” for Myspace. Each “BFF” Webisode featured a pair of best friends who were challenged to answer questions about each other. This original branded content has a library of 44 Webisodes and premiered in 2009, with sponsors including Johnson & Johnson, Proctor & Gamble Co. and Kodak.
BFF used the bff.tv Web site to build the BFF Bracelet Program, a friendship bracelet that allowed supporters to feel connected to the military. The bracelet program, in partnership with the American Freedom Foundation, gave a percentage of sales to the organization. The program raised more than $30,000 for the American Freedom Foundation.
“David was totally original,” said Poster. “He always had a huge smile and tons of enthusiasm for whatever he was doing. He was one of a kind. It’s unusual for someone to move into the entertainment business in his late 40s. It was a very bold move.”
“David took an idea and could imagine so many different scenarios and connect so many incredible people,” added Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, president of SWW Creative, who worked with him on several projects and fashion shows, such as one they did using Big Live technology for the Skaist-Taylor fashion show in the parking garage at Lincoln Center.
Rubin is survived by his wife, Susan, and daughter, Josephine; his parents, Richard and Marian Rubin; his sister, Susan Wolfin, and brother, Robert.