Isabel Toledo, avant-garde designer for Michelle Obama, dies at 59


Isabel Toledo, the Cuban American fashion designer with an avant-garde flair who created First Lady Michelle Obama’s standout lemongrass sheath dress and matching coat for her husband’s 2009 inauguration, has died. She was 59.

Toledo died Monday of breast cancer, her studio said in an email. Further details were not immediately available.

Though she presented her first collection in 1985, Toledo’s work grabbed attention after Obama wore some of her looks at the inauguration, including the wool and lace dress.


Toledo arrived in West New York, N.J., as a teenager, later attending but not graduating from fashion college. She met her husband, fashion illustrator and painter Ruben Toledo, in high school.

She was an independent designer but served briefly as creative director for Anne Klein.