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Isabel Toledo: A Creative Life & Legacy

Monday, October 3 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Known to many as the designer of Michelle Obama’s iconic inauguration parade dress, Isabel Toledo lived a uniquely creative life.  Her work and personality left a legacy that continues to be felt following her death from breast cancer  at age 59 in 2019.  With her husband, artist and illustrator Ruben Toledo,  she formed a dynamic partnership that touched everyone they knew with their artistry and generosity.

Join us for a special program on her life, presented by Sarah Rogers, Director of the Kent State University Museum.


Isabel Izquierdo arrived in New Jersey at the age of 8, settling with her family in a vibrant community of Cuban exiles.  In high school she met fellow Cuban Ruben Toledo: opposites in many ways, they shared a devotion to creativity and married after graduation.


Bachner, Randal. Isabel and Ruben Toledo. 2014. Interview, https://www.interviewmagazine.com/fashion/isabel-toledo-reflects


Pink Rayon Jersey Dress by Isabel Toledo


Her designs drew on architecture and geometry for inspiration. Beginning with an idea of how the wearer should feel,  she would communicate a combination of shapes to Ruben, who produced a sketch.  



Toledo, Isabel. . Pink Rayon Jersey Dress Using Arms as Anchors. 1989. 



In 2009, Michelle Obama picked Isabel’s design to wear to the historic inauguration parade.

“To put this into perspective, you must remember that Ruben and I are political refugees, and my staff consists of people from the U.S., China, Korea, Poland, Mexico, and Japan…This was a moment bigger than fashion. This was history, and now we were woven into this very moment in history forever.”




Sarah Rogers is the Director of the Kent State University Museum.  She was previously executive deputy director of the Columbus Museum of Art, where she curated an exhibit of works by Isabel and Ruben Toledo. Ms. Rogers has an M.A. in art history from Northwestern University and a B.A. from Wells College.




Please register to receive the Zoom link.



Monday, October 3
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
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