Monday, May 2, 2016

Monday Morning Inspiration/Isabel and Ruben Toledo

It was a cold, wet weekend in Chicago, but there was one bright spot for me, the opportunity to see Isabel and Ruben Toledo and hear them talk about her design process and his artwork. A friend invited me to go and there was absolutely no hesitation in my response as I have loved the two for years!
Both Isabel and Ruben immigrated to American from Cuba as small children. They lived in New Jersey, just across the river from Manhattan. They met as children and began working together on school projects. Ruben said that it took quite some time to convince Isabel that he was the man for her. His patience paid off, and together, they have become an incredible design force. As they talked, it was so obvious that even after all these years, Ruben is still madly in love with Isabel. And what I saw in Isabel is a confidence that comes from having someone in your life who loves you so deeply. It was beautiful to see. The picture below is of the two in their Manhattan loft.  

Creatively, Isabel is the designer and Ruben is the artist. Isabel considers herself to be more of an engineer than a designer. Take a look at the clothes below and you will see this to be true.

There were  a number of Isabel's designs that were shown that I fell in love with. One was the piece below. It's actually a series of tubes. The drawing on the right gives you an idea of the actual design.

I cannot express how much I love this dress. So fluid and yet so structural.

Simple, feminine and so very striking.

Isabel has done quite a bit of work with origami. This is an example of that work. Lovely jacket.

Isabel was given the opportunity to design the inaugural suit for Michele Obama. she said that she actually designed 2 pieces and that other designers had also been chosen. So it was a matter of wait and see to see whether her dress would be chosen. She said that it was just so exciting to see the dress being worn on such an historic occasion.

The dress is rather simple in design, but impeccable and absolutely gorgeous. The picture is quite large as I wanted you to be able to really see the lace and details.

I love the structural aspect of this dress.

On Saturday, Isabel was wearing a shawl that she said Ruben had painted. The design in the shawl was very similar to the piece below. The caftan was designed by Isabel and the painting done by Ruben.

The Toledos have collaborated with a number of companies. Below is a line that they did for Anne Klein. Of course the painting was done by Ruben.

Below are a few more examples of Ruben's artwork, a lipstick case for MAC Cosmetics, the staircase in their loft, and a fashion illustration.

Together they have written a book about their life. Of all the reviews that were left on Amazon, all were 5 stars. I think I have to have this book! You can find it HERE

For those of you who enjoy videos, I have pulled out a few favorites. 

The first video is from the installation of their exhibit "Fashion From The Inside Out" that was shown at FIT in New York. It's only about 3 minutes long. You'll love it.

The next is a short interview with the two. Also wonderful. 

And finally, a full fashion show done in Barcelona. It's a bit long, 19 minutes, but well worth the time.

Hope you've enjoyed Isabel and Ruben as much as I did :)
Have a wonderful week!

Share this PostPin ThisShare on TumblrShare on Google PlusEmail This


  1. Great Monday inspiration! Thank you for the great videos!

    1. Glad you enjoyed it. I just love the energy between the two of them :)

  2. Oh thank you so much for this! I have loved their work but lost track. Will enjoy watching/reading this several times!

    1. I think they are even more amazing after seeing them. So inspiring.

  3. Thank you so much. What a treat to watch.

  4. What a wonderful post - I had heard of them but didn't know anything about them. Great story & thanks for the links - so inspiring.

  5. Thanks for the reminder about this fabulous designer Rhonda. I first heard about the Toledos in a Threads article years ago and loved the very dress you show as a favourite. Those tubes create an amazing shape.
    I didn't know about the exhibition and book, but I will be investing in that book right now!

  6. I'm intrigued and want to learn more.... must order this book. Thank you for the post and sharing this information and gorgeous photo. Wow!

    1. Hi Graca,
      I ordered the book and it should arrive tomorrow. I'll write a review on Thursday if you want to wait.my fingers are crossed that it's as good as I think it will be.

  7. Thank you for sharing these videos with us Rhonda. So many covetable clothes, such design ideas, I particularly like the wide double shawl collars. Most of all I want to feel the fabrics and take a peek inside at eh construction.

  8. I loved it. The videos were fantastic. What an incredible talent.