“MAKE ME A CUBAN PARTY”
There is not much more that I could add to what has already been saying about Isabel ’s exceptional talent and unique point of view. Dozens, if not hundreds, of articles in the international press and countless tributes from friends and devotees, have described her life, work, achievements, awards, and passions—as well as her remarkable relationship with Ruben, her creative partner, husband and alter ego, the perfect medium for Isabel, who did draw, to concretize with precise exactitude, every detail of her powerful imagination. “I can describe an idea or feeling to Ruben and he sketches it exactly as I had thought or…felt it,” she said, capturing the essence of their legendary symbiosis. Seldom has there been such genuine heart-felt grief expressed on the death of a personality in the world of fashion and celebrity—the deep emotion reserved for those who are not only admired… but beloved. It has been humbling and profoundly moving to those of us who witnessed her trajectory up-close.
For those of us who saw her evolve from a downtown-cult-figure in a then eccentric high-voltage New York, to the designer of singular originality and confident craft who, like Balenciaga and Geoffrey Beene before her, distilled the classics of the future, converting notions of geometry and physics into designs with flawless architecture, pragmatic function and definite purpose. For those of us who were first-row witnesses to that arc, the recognition has offered, if not consolation, solace——particularly to me, who had recently reconnected with her after a silly, silly fallen out a few years ago. “My stubborn Cuban beauties”, Ruben wrote, “my bull-headed…” unwittingly rubbing salt on irrecuperable time, irrevocable loss. But I can add, perhaps, to what has been said already, that what impressed me most of Isabel’s work was the coherence of her vision: cerebral and idiosyncratic and innovative, but at the same time, constant. Her ideas emerged, developed, appeared and reappeared again and again, always surprising, but always, always, essentially the same: an endless refinement of concept and technique; always magical but always modern and sophisticated.
A “radical classicist” indeed. And I can most definitely add, that hers was a vision underlined by an atavistic memory of an increasingly and relentlessly far away from Havana. “No soy diseñadora, sino una costurera…como las de Luyanó…” she told me with a mischievous wink in 1998, at the opening of the retrospective exhibition of Toledo Toledo, a Marriage of Art and Fashion, at the Museum of the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, evoking the masterful seamstresses of that old Havana barrio, lest the adulation goes to her head. “Make me a Cuban party…” she asked me one summer in the early 90s while dancing to Cuban classics at Boca Chica in the East Village. And such was the opening of her boutique at a newly minted Barney’s, long before that theme became fashionable. That night the beat of two congueros’ drums and the voice of a recently arrived Albita, brought the purest guaguancó to Madison Avenue -and a group quintessentially Toledo, a mix of downtown bohemians, Cubans of all kinds, A-list Park Avenue socialites, and Joey Arias in a red dress, danced with abandon till late, fueled by turquoise frozen daiquiris and miniature tamales. A subtext powerfully projected in Full Circle, the triumphant 2012 exhibition of Isabel and Ruben’s work at MDC-Museum of Art & Design at the Freedom Tower in Miami, where they both had been processed as refugees in the early 60s, a story about the power of stunning creativity and inexorable perseverance. It is this Isabel that I will remember most inconsolably. The muse and model of Ruben’s best work…of his best life….The romantic icon of long black hair, intense gaze, and elegant mien… the mythical Cuban woman, the Longina of the old song, the mirror, and reflection, the remembrance and echo.
28 DE JULIO. UN DÍA COMO HOY
OBRA DE LA SEMANA XLVIII
WORK OF THE WEEK XLV
OBRA DE LA SEMANA L
Well done, thank you I couldn’t said better except I loved and admired those two TOLEDO
I was lucky enough to know them called them my dearest friend,
I shall miss her forever,
I can only hope now when I hug RUBEN she can feel my love in heaven where she is now.
Elvia Rosa Castro
Preciosamente escrito, Marilú. Solo supe de los actores de este drama a través del bosquejo apresurado que trazaste el sábado. Tu crónica me los devuelve como viejos conocidos. Enhorabuena
Very beautiful..thank you. I had the honor of meetingThe toledos in the early 80’S I think what brought us together was paper magazine’S KIM hestrieter over the years the Toledos and us share many fashion moments such as articles..editorials and even shows in which we shared runwAys for Hispanic designers. Our paths were very similar I was processed at the freedom tower in the early 60’s.I went to the costureras in lullano and El Cerro with my mom 3 times a month to satify her addiction to fashion where i grew up taking notes while mom was being fitted we both married artists that contibuted to our craft and so on but that is not the only thing that bonded us i belive in my behalf it was the great admiration i had not only of her persona but also the message in her work which to me was of the highest standard. I admire All that Isabel and ruben created when i thought of isabel the name MADAME GRES .balenciaga..dior,Beene and most masters came to mind she was unique ,authentic.and an authority in her craft..i so enjoyed and felt honored to know her and i had long conversations with Stephen gan from paper and later on visionaire about her designs which we both admired I wish we would have had recent conversations as I would have loved to tell her how much more i admire her work and themselves not only for the content but also for their resilience throughout the years they raised the bar to endless heights.getting better and better each time.it pleases me to know the world understand our loss in the fashion world and that people like you I and so many more will allways keep her alive in our minds our hearts and the comunnity..we must support Ruben in such challenging chapter and continue to share their legacy thank you for having done so with your mention
Leave a Reply Cancel reply
Estamos en Twitter
Top Posts & Pages
- LA CANDIDEZ POÉTICA DEL ARTE POPULAR ESPIRITUANO*
- CUARTO OSCURO
- EDUARDO ANTONIO
- EL ARTE de LATINOAMÉRICA en ARCO MADRID 2023
- INTIMACIONES: LAS CIUDADES DE RANDY ARMAS
- CONVOCATORIA DE RESIDENCIA PARA ARTISTAS CENTROAMERICANOS
- PEDRO ÁLVAREZ*
- TONY MENÉNDEZ
- ANTONIA EIRIZ Y LAS CIRCUNSTANCIAS...* Tercera parte
Los Secuaces de El Sr. Corchea
- Elvia Rosa Castro
- Gustavo Ramos
- Héctor Antón
- Héctor S. Martínez
- Nelson Herrera Ysla
Thank you for this beautiful article about mi hermana del alma.