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Isabel Toledo, FIT

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Isabel Toledo: Fashion from the Inside Out
June 17 through September 26, 2009

The Cuban-born fashion designer Isabel Toledo is often described as "a designer's designer." Although she is little known to the general public, her work is greatly admired by members of the fashion community. As the late fashion journalist Amy Spindler once wrote, "Only great designers can dispense with themes and theatrics and let the work speak instead. Ms. Toledo does just that, letting fashion itself be the theme."
Isabel's focus on technique, her willingness to experiment, and her strong personal vision make her work stand out. But other aspects of her career — her early rise to fame and subsequent years of struggle, her brush with organized crime, and her rollercoaster ride at a big fashion company — will be familiar to many in the modern fashion system.
{illustration Ruben Toledo}
Isabel works closely with her husband, the illustrator Ruben Toledo. As she begins to construct her visions, Isabel engages in intense discussions with Ruben, gesturing to show, for example, how the fabric should drape. "I think of it as fashion from the inside out," she explains. "I can describe an idea or even a feeling to Ruben, and he'll sketch it." Officially, Isabel is the fashion designer, or as she says, "the seamstress," and Ruben is the artist/illustrator, but the reality is much more complicated. "We're so meshed, it's impossible to separate what we do," says Ruben.
Isabel Toledo told Dr. Valerie Steele in a 1989 interview, "I really love the technique of sewing more than anything else…the seamstress is the one who knows fashion from the inside! That's the art form really, not fashion design, but the technique of how it's done." Isabel has said that she doesn't "want to be radical," and she insists that "weird is not smart." But her clothes are undeniably different. None of them have traditional construction. Her patterns, silhouettes, use of materials, and methods of draping are all highly experimental.
these are clothes that function."
more here

First Lady Michelle Obama
Wearing Toledo


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