Thursday, September 17, 2009

Isabel Toledo

While fashion designer Isabel Toledo is greatly admired and respected within the industry and those "in the know", her name has only recently reached the masses. Isabel received international acclaim when her design was worn by Michelle Obama on the Inauguration Day of our new President. The First Lady had long been a fan of Isabel's unique and wearable pieces, but even Isabel didn't know she had decided upon the lemongrass lace wool dress and matching jacket until Michelle appeared in the outfit on that historic day. The level of exposure this provided was well deserved and overdue for this tremendous creative force.

Often touted the "designer's designer", Isabel launched her line in 1985 and participated in bi-annual collections for about ten years, before deciding to break the mold. A bit disenchanted with the limiting ideals that had become industry standard, Isabel chose to create and present on her own schedule. Inspired more from emotion and instinct than visual elements or themes, Isabel's unconventional approach to fashion truly comes "From the Inside Out" (also the title of her new book).

The "Cage Dress"... what fun!

A seamstress from a young age, her pieces are works of art from inception to construction. As she gets ideas for designs, Isabel describes them to her husband, artist Ruben Toledo, who then sketches them out for her. A fashion dream team, the couple has managed to maintain their integrity and independence in the world of commercialism. While Isabel had a short stint with Anne Klein, she hopes for another opportunity to dress the everyday woman through her eyes.

A creative piece called "Hermaphrodite" because its shape can represent both sexes

A personal favorite ;)

In the meantime, you can find her beautiful designs at select boutiques, such as Barney's New York and Ikram in Chicago, and on display at The Museum at FIT (through September 26th). This exhibit is a must see for anyone who appreciates the best of fashion and art... Isabel's garments are exquisite and Ruben's brilliant watercolor illustrations complement. I saw this on my own a couple months back, loved it, then had the surprise privilege and honor of walking through with Isabel and Ruben themselves! More on that to come...I'm still trying to catch up!

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