Toledo was born in Cuba in 1960 and immigrated to West New York, New Jersey as a teenager

By Robyn Merrett
August 26, 2019 06:55 PM
Isabel Toledo 
Ben Gabbe/Getty Images

Fashion designer Isabel Toledo has died. She was 59.

Toledo, most known for creating First Lady Michelle Obama‘s lemongrass-colored shift dress and matching overcoat for President Barack Obama‘s 2009 inauguration, died of breast cancer, the Associated Press, Vogue and USA Today reported.

No further details were reported.

A representative for Toledo did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

When Toledo was just a teenager she immigrated from Cuba to West New York, New Jersey where she embarked on a career in the fashion industry, according to the AP.

She attended the Fashion Institute of Technology and Parsons School of Design where she studied painting, ceramics and fashion design, according to the AP. She did not graduate.

In 1984 Toledo married artist Ruben Toledo. The pair went on to become collaborators.

One year later, Toledo presented her first collection, gaining the support of Fiorucci and Bergdorf Goodman, Vogue reported.

Michelle Obama in a Isabel Toledo design
Ron Sachs-Pool/Getty Images

She quickly made a name for herself and was praised for her avant-garde looks.

In addition to Obama, who wore a number of Toledo looks before moving into the White House, actresses Demi Moore and Debra Messing were also fans of the designer — sporting her designs on numerous red carpets.

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Ruben previously opened up about seeing his wife’s creation on Obama telling WWD at the time, “We’re levitating — we really are.”

The couple had not known Obama had chosen a Toledo design until they saw her in the ensemble walking in the 2009 inaugural parade.

Isabel Toledo
Rose Hartman/Getty Images

“We had no idea. We hoped she would wear something because she has bought Isabel’s clothes before. We never know what’s going to happen,” Ruben told WWD. “It’s another shock, but a great shock.”

Toledo herself also spoke about the moment to the AP, saying, “There is nothing that comes close to this moment.”

“It’s not just my moment and hers, but it’s the world’s. It’s not only what she’s wearing. It’s what the moment represents.”

Ruben and Isabel Toledo
John Lamparski/WireImage

Throughout the course of her career, Toledo continued to create her own path. Unlike many designers, Toledo strayed away from runways and presented her collections in museums, according to the AP.

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“I’m really a forever kind of gal,” Toledo told Vogue in 2005. “If everybody’s going this way, I’m going to figure out how to go that way.”

Her individuality landed her a number of accolades, including the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award in 2005 and the third annual Couture Council Award for Artistry of Fashion from the Museum at FIT in 2008.

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