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July 22 2014

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Isabel Toledo At FIT

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Michelle Obama’s Inauguration Day coat and dress is easily the most high-profile ensemble in Isabel Toledo’s repertoire, so it’s no surprise it’s the first thing you see at Isabel Toledo: Fashion From The Inside Out, opening today at the Museum at FIT. Still, this is a designer who prefers to identify her work on a conceptual as opposed to client-oriented basis. “It’s not who’s wearing your dress,” she explained. “That’s the easiest way to describe your work.” Instead, Toledo and husband/collaborator Ruben used thematically based categories, e.g., “Origami” or “Manipulated Surfaces,” to curate the 70-plus looks in the exhibition, which include everything from the striped cotton and denim coats of her eponymous line to the silk taffeta shirtwaist dresses hand-painted by Ruben that she designed for Anne Klein.¬†As to the inevitable life-changing effects of dressing the First Lady, the still fiercely independent designer does admit to enjoying her newfound mass appeal. Might a Target collaboration, à la fellow Obama designers Thakoon Panichgul and Tracy Feith, be in the works? “Maybe you should write about it,” Toledo laughed. “Maybe they’ll call.”

Photo: Ben Gabbe / Patrick McMullan

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