Isabel Toledo, the Cuban-born designer who became a favorite of former First Lady Michelle Obama, died of breast cancer Sunday in a New York hospital. She was 59.
Her death was confirmed by her husband, Ruben Toledo.
She and Ruben Toledo were a husband-and-wife team who worked closely together in several fields of fashion. Her designs combined sophisticated simplicity and meticulous craftsmanship, while Ruben Toledo is a fashion artist whose drawings have appeared in many publications and murals.
Born in Cuba on April 9, 1960, Isabel Toledo moved to West New York, N.J., where she attended high school and met Ruben Toledo, whom she married in 1984. She attended the Fashion Institute of Technology and Parsons School of Design and interned with Diana Vreeland at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute before starting her own design firm in 1984.
It was her husband who actually took a few dresses from her closet and brought them to buyers at Bergdorf Goodman and Barneys New York, who agreed to buy them. Isabel quickly went to work cutting orders, often using cans of condensed milk instead of professional weights on their apartment floor, and then sewing each garment herself. Creating patterns and mannequins, draping, grading, designing
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