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Fashion designer Isabel Toledo dies at 59

By Dale Arden Chong

Aug 26, 2019

Cuban-American designer Isabel Toledo, who became most recognized for designing for First Lady Michelle Obama’s dress for the 2009 inaugural parade, died on Monday in New York. She was 59.

According to the New York Times, Toledo died from breast cancer, as confirmed by her husband and artist Ruben Toledo. The New York-based designer was known for her particular craftsmanship in architectural construction and extreme elegance.

In various interviews, Toledo refers to herself as someone who loved design, and it shows clearly in each piece she made.

Born in Cuba in 1961, the designer moved to West New York, New Jersey in 1968. A seamstress at an early age, Toledo attended the Fashion Institute of Technology and Parsons School of Design. Though she never graduated, she showed her first line in 1984, quickly gaining attention from Fiorucci and Bergdorf Goodman.

Though Toledo was known as an independent designer, she served a short stint at Anne Klein as the creative director and participated in the 2005 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund. She also received the National Design Award from Cooper Hewitt in 2005 and was nominated for a Tony Award for her costumes created for the musical “After Midnight.”

Toledo is survived by her husband and her sisters.

Isabel Toledo