1 of 2 | Fashion designer Isabel Toledo died at the age of 59 due to complications related to breast cancer, her husband said. Photo by Ed Kavishe/Wikimedia Commons
Aug. 26 (UPI) -- Fashion designer Isabel Toledo died Monday of complications related to breast cancer in New York, her husband Ruben Toledo said. She was 59.
The Cuban-American designer drew praise throughout her career for her designs which she described as "romantic mathematics." She's perhaps best known as the creator of the dress first lady Michelle Obama wore to the 2009 inauguration of President Barack Obama.
Born Maria Isabel Izquierdo on April 9, 1960, in Camajuani, Cuba, Toledo emigrated to West New York, N.J., in 1968.
She began sewing at the age of 8 and later went on to pursue a career as a designer, attending the Fashion Institute of Technology and later the Parsons School of Design. Prior to graduating she became an intern for Diana Vreeland at the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
She introduced her first line in 1984, the same year she married Ruben Toledo. The pair met in New Jersey as children.
In a 1989 interview, Toledo described her work as "not very classically sexy."
"There's a certain security in being able to wear a shape that hangs so faraway from the body," she said. "And yet, when a woman walks into a place in my clothes, she's going to definitely be noticed, which means she has to be secure, because she takes up a lot of room."
Toledo received a National Design Award from the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum in 2005 and was nominated for a Tony for the costumes in the musical After Midnight in 2014 served as creative director at Anne Klein from 2006-07.
In 2009, the same year she designed the dress for Obama, the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology showcased 70 of Toledo's designs and she published her autobiography Roots of Style: Weaving Together Life, Love and Fashion in 2012.
Toledo most recently produced collections for Target, Payless and Lane Bryant.
Jerry Herman listens to remarks by U.S. President Barack Obama as the president and First Lady Michelle Obama host the 2010 Kennedy Center Honorees at a reception in the East Room of the White House on December 5, 2010. The Tony-award winning composer died
on December 26, 2019, at the age of 88. File Pool Photo by Gary Fabiano/UPI | License Photo