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Posts Tagged ‘Isabel Toledo’

IMG_20190922_160622Don’t be afraid to be appropriate. It has become a dirty word in fashion and style talk. But for me, being appropriate means simply being in touch with the moment. When you are in touch with the moment, with yourself, you communicate effortlessly. 

Isabel Toledo (1961-2019), Cuban-American fashion designer.

 

This is a quote from Toledo’s 2012 memoir, Roots of Style: Weaving Together Life, Love, and Fashion (Celebra Books).

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One of the many illustrations by Ruben Toledo in Roots of Style. 

I recently reread this book, which tells the fascinating story of the Toledos – both of whom immigrated to the US from Cuba as children. They met in high school and later forged ahead in their careers as a couple in 1980s Manhattan. Ruben Toledo is an artist and fashion illustrator. His charming illustrations are a highlight of the book.

As for the quote, well, I of course completely agree. Dressing appropriately shows presence in the moment whether that be a wedding, a funeral, a graduation, an expensive restaurant, the theater, the opera … it matters.

 

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El Museo Del Barrio 2016 Pre-Gala Bash

The lovely Isabel Toledo (1961-2019). Photo by Ben Gabbe/Getty Images.

This week fashion designer Isabel Toledo died of breast cancer. What a loss!

I was a fan of Ms. Toledo, who as a teenager immigrated with her family from Cuba to the US. She and her husband, artist Ruben Toledo, moved to New York City in the 1980s hitting the pavement and knocking on department store doors looking for a place to sell their avant-garde fashions.

 

 

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Michelle Obama wears Isabel Toledo for the 2009 presidential inauguration. 

Ms. Toledo made fashion fame in 2009 when she designed Michelle Obama’s inaugural outfit – a shift dress and coat in what she called lemon grass. I recall reading in her memoir (Roots of Style: Weaving Together Life, Love, & Fashion) that they knew it was going to be freezing cold in Washington that day so they sewed layers of padding in the wool coat.

Prior to that in the 1990s, she shunned corporate driven fashion shows working instead with museums. Although she remained an independent designer, for a short time she was creative director for Anne Klein and designed a line of shoes for Payless and fashions for Lane Bryant.

What I like about Isabel Toledo’s designs is her use of textured fabrics and off colors. She was a unique creative spirit and how sad for us that she is gone.

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blog_Isabel-Toledo-Roots-of-Style-bookFashion is ephemeral. It is the flavor of the day, and useful for refueling your style inspiration when you feel you’ve run out of gas. Fashion is easy to apply because it’s all surface.

Style on the other hand, is an effective way to carve out your individuality. Style is content. A person with true style is displaying a fertile and thinking mind.

– Isabel Toledo, American fashion designer.

This quote is from Ms. Toledo’s autobiography, Roots of Style: Weaving Together Life, Love, and Fashion (Celebra, 2012). I enjoyed her story starting out in Cuba and moving to America with her family when she was young enough to see it as a big adventure. I also appreciate her positive attitude and of course her amazing talent, which began with desire to see how machines work and soon shifted to how clothing is constructed.

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Illustrations by Ruben Toledo. From Roots of Style.

A unique voice in fashion, Ms. Toledo started out in the 1980s and is one of the few who has remained independent, not selling out to big corporations. She gave up Fashion Week back in the 90s, seeing where it was headed. Her husband Ruben (they met in high school) is a fashion illustrator and her business partner. His illustrations are throughout the book helping to expand the narrative. Love his style … hers too.

Great book! Read it!

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