Thursday, May 5, 2011

Madcap Mavericks

I first heard about the Isabel Toledo when Michelle Obama wore one of her designs at the president's inauguration. I filed it away in the back of my brain, to let that titbit of info collect dust. But then came across a lovely post about the Toledo's here and felt compelled to find out more about them. They are incredibly incredible. They are madcap mavericks. They are completely compelling.

'He's visualizing my feelings'. Fashion Designer Isabel Toledo, on her collaborative relationship with her artist husband. [papermag 2003]

"If I make a dress that's totally ugly, I know that it is going to have babies." Isabel

The Toledos at home. The clothes are by Isabel; the art work is by Ruben. Photograph by Max Vadukul.

Papermag: How do you describe what you do?
Isabel: I don't. It's like describing my insides, and I've never looked at my insides.

In the interview, Isabel goes on to explain that she's not a 'visual person', Ruben is that part of the equation and 'he has no choice but to be a part of it (designing clothes)'. Isabel then gives an example of how their constant conversation goes:

IT: I might say, "I want to feel the line yanking underneath my arm," or "I want tension here. I want this to be a huge garment, but make sure it fits beautifully on the neck as well as on the bottom of the sleeve. I want to feel the air between that huge garment and me." And he'll draw it. I have a library of sketches, or what I call our constant conversation.

Isabel is completely quotable. She also uses hula hoops to exercise. If you are a snoop like me, Woody Allen used their amazing apartment in Melinda & Melinda. But I'll leave the final word about Isabel to Ruben:

It's her eyes: They're so mystical. They're like looking into some other world. There's so much soul in her eyes. It's like a poem that you can't quite understand, ever. It's all about mystery. And she always keeps it, you know. She breathes mystery. It's not about explaining everything; it is about letting it be a mystery. I love that.

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