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Inside Story: Isabel Toledo
Fashion Design

What inspires me is processóhow a thing comes to be, not the thing itself. Thatís why my designs are so technical. I donít have fantasies or stories in my head, I have techniques. Itís not about images. I mean, of course Iím looking at art all day long and watching Ruben paint. Thatís inspiring. But if Iím looking at a building, itís not the shape that interests me; itís, ĎHow is that wall standing there?í If I have to think about a human, Iím fascinated by its bones. If Iím looking at a stitch, Iím imagining how to use the stitch, not how the dress will look. Itís all about, ĎHow do I put this together?í I love puzzles. If I make a kite of a garmentóbig around the bodyóIím thinking about the body of the woman, how she stands, how she moves. So Iíll anchor it from under the bust up to the shoulder. Iíll make the dress hug her. I think itís very romantic, the craft of how things are made.

Toledo, who studied at FIT in the early í80s, is the
subject of a retrospective exhibition that runs through
September 26 at The Museum at FIT. She and her
husband, artist and illustrator Ruben Toledo, have
worked together since 1984.
Pictured: Apron dress, spring/summer 1997.
Purple, azure, and blue ombré silk chiffon. Photo: William Palmer

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