SAVANNAH, Ga. — The Savannah College of Art and Design honored the collaborative creativity of Isabel and Ruben Toledo on Saturday.
This story first appeared in the May 20, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The couple received the André Leon Talley Lifetime Achievement Award at the school’s annual student fashion show.
“I don’t think we could even think of working without the other one,” Isabel Toledo said. “Ruben is such an extension of me.” Her husband seconded the statement.
Talley, Vogue editor at large, and SCAD president Paula Wallace presented the designer and her artist husband with the award. Previous recipients include Vera Wang, Marc Jacobs, John Galliano and Miuccia Prada.
“I go to Barneys just to touch her clothes; I don’t do that for anyone else,” said Talley, who described Toledo as “a designer’s designer.”
She has been in the spotlight because First Lady Michelle Obama has worn her clothes both for the inaugural ceremony and other events, including the presidential trip to Europe.
“I’m happy to say that I chose the Toledos as this year’s recipients before I knew that Isabel was designing Michelle Obama’s inaugural dress,” Talley said.
The Toledos, who celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary this year, said they work together every day — she as his muse and model, he as her sketch artist and structural inspiration.
The couple said they were impressed by SCAD’s students and campus, and they met with aspiring designers and artists before the fashion show to offer advice.
“Don’t limit yourself to one medium,” Ruben Toledo said. “SCAD has such a cross-pollination of artistic ideas and [the students] should explore them all.”
Up next for the Toledos is a midcareer retrospective of the designer’s work at the Museum at F.I.T. in Manhattan that will run June 17 to Sept. 26, as well as a fashion show in Washington, D.C., for which the date has yet to be set.
“The Swiss embassy saw some of the lace I used for [Michelle Obama’s] dress and noticed that I got it in Switzerland,” she said. “They want me to do a fashion show.”
Designers Lars Nilsson and Yigal Azrouël also served as design mentors for the almost 70 students whose 170 pieces ran in the show.
Coinciding with the SCAD fashion show was Mélange d’Art Sélect, an exhibit of vintage clothing donated by Cornelia Guest, Patricia Altschul and Anna Wintour at the SCAD Museum of Art. Among the pieces were Chanel suits worn by Wintour and gowns by Oscar de la Renta and Karl Lagerfeld. The exhibit runs through July.