Fashion Designer Isabel Toledo Dies at 59
Isabel Toledo, the Cuban designer beloved by celebrities and her fellow fashion confidants, has died from breast cancer. Her husband, Ruben Toledo, confirmed the cause of death to People. While she is well known in fashion circles, many will remember Toledo as the designer of the bold green wool lace shift dress and matching coat that Michelle Obama wore to her husband's inauguration in 2009.
Vogue notes that Toledo eschewed trends. Instead, she was a "designer's designer," having spent time at Fashion Institute of Technology and Parsons School of Design. In 1985, she showed her first collection and immediately gained the support of Fiorucci and Bergdorf Goodman.
"I'm really a forever kind of gal," Toledo told Vogue when she was a finalist in the 2005 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund. "If everybody's going this way, I’m going to figure out how to go that way."
Together with her husband, Toledo became a designer that set herself apart from the world of fast fashion, trend-driven collections, and commercial appeal instead of individuality. Though she remained under the radar for most of her career, she broke through when Obama wore one of her creations. Obama sung her praises after wearing the outfit, which continued her M.O. of championing smaller American designers during her time in the White House.
"I knew that what I wore to my husband’s first inauguration would go down in history," Mrs. Obama wrote in an email to the New York Times. "So, I wanted something that would not only live up to the moment, but would also stand up to the freezing cold of that January day. With her incredible creativity and masterful talent, Isabel designed a beautiful lemongrass outfit that I just loved. She more than met the moment — for that day and for all of history."