- Fashion designer Isabel Toledo, known for making Michelle Obama's 2009 inauguration outfit, has died at the age of 59.
- Her husband, Ruben Toledo, revealed that the cause of death was breast cancer.
Cuban-American fashion designer Isabel Toledo has passed away at the age of 59, The New York Times reported. According to her husband, Ruben Toledo, her partner since high school, the cause of death was breast cancer.
Unlike some of her designer contemporaries, Isabel stayed out of the spotlight, considering herself more of an "engineer" of clothing instead of a "fashion person," according to the Times' report. However, she made headlines when former First Lady Michelle Obama wore her lemon-yellow dress and coat for the 2009 inauguration parade.
The designer called the moment an "amazing honor," per ABC News. The gravity of Barack Obama's Inauguration Day was not lost on her; she chose a bright lemongrass hue for Michelle's look because it was "optimistic, a color that represented change."
Before Inauguration Day, Michelle wore one of Isabel's designs during a fundraiser at Calvin Klein's home in June 2008. She wore a breezy black tunic and palazzo pants at the time—an elegant contrast to her bright and citrusy Inauguration Day look.
As the First Lady, Michelle once again wore Isabel's designs, this time in 2009 while visiting Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace.
Isabel was born in 1960 in Camajuani, Cuba, and emigrated with her family, settling in New York in 1968, according to the NYT. After learning to sew at a young age, she studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology then transferred to Parsons School of Design. She left before graduation to intern with Diana Vreeland at the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, according to the paper. In 1984, the same year she married Ruben, she debuted her eponymous fashion line.
In 2012, she published her autobiography, Roots of Style: Weaving Together Life, Love, and Fashion. In part of the book, she explains her process behind designing Michelle's now-famous inauguration look, which consisted of wool lace for the January weather.
"We did not want Michelle to freeze," she wrote, according to an excerpt shared by Racked. "I wanted this coat to protect the First Lady, to comfort and hug her like a friend, while still allowing her relaxed body language to shine through and speak."