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TOLEDOS’ P.R.: In Manhattan, Isabel and Ruben Toledo prefer to keep a pretty low profile in Manhattan, but in Puerto Rico the couple recently went all out creatively to help local schoolchildren. As the guest of honor for Puerto Rico High Fashion Week, Isabel Toledo staged a runway show — her first in more than a decade. Inspired by futuristic Caribbean women, multiracial models wore looks from the designer’s spring line carried in Barneys New York, Nordstrom and select other stores, as well as her new Payless shoes. Reached by phone at the San Juan airport Friday en route back to New York, Ruben Toledo noted that the latter included beach boots, which have holes in them so that wearers can shake out the sand. The event stirred up interest among retailers from Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela and other parts of South America, he said.
All ticket sales from the fashion show benefited The Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico, which exhibited the designer’s creations in “A Love Story Between Fashion and Art.” A sampling of her intricate pieces was displayed on mannequins designed by her husband and created by Ralph Pucci. Ruben Toledo’s art was also featured in the gallery. The Cuban-born couple rounded up local children and tweens to paint a 25-foot-long mural. In addition, Louis Vuitton donated canvas versions of a few of the postcards Ruben Toledo designed for the luxury house for the event’s auction. Ruben Toledo envisioned making canvases that looked as though you could just put a stamp on them, though. “Years ago when I worked at Area, we sent out invitations with Velveeta cheese. It was not considered food. It is funny how you can get bizarre things through the mail,” he said.
Louis Vuitton had wanted Ruben Toledo to paint on site the three-story mural he dreamt up for its new Singapore store that can be approached via boat or an underground tunnel. But a 30-day project would have been too much of a time commitment. Toledo explained, “They wanted me to go and I would have loved to have gone to Singapore. That’s the bad thing about being a little company — you always have to keep rowing the oars.”
The Toledos’ trip to Puerto Rico wasn’t quite the island getaway they have typically have. Over the holidays, they like to retreat to the surfing town of Rincon, where Isabel Toledo’s sister Ana Izquierdo lives on a waterfront hideaway. “She has no neighbors. We wear no clothes, we see no one. It’s just us and the sea.”