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Fans Of Michelle Obama Mourn The Death Of Her Beloved Cuban-American Designer

In 2009, the world watched with excitement as the U.S. made history by electing the first Black president to office. On the day of his inauguration, however, all eyes weren’t solely on Barack Obama who was being newly sworn in. Instead, most were occupied by the soon to be iconic look worn by First-Lady Michelle Obama. Her look was a lemongrass dress and coat paring designed by Cuban-American designer Isabel Toledo, a woman who devoted her career to designing for all women.

Today, the fashion world is mourning the death of the designer who styled an icon after she lost her battle against breast cancer.

Toledo died of breast cancer at age 59 in Manhattan, her husband announced on Monday. 

There is no denying her influence in fashion especially considering only4.3 percent of the 2017 Business of Fashion 500 list, which ranks the fashion industry’s most influential individuals, were Latinos. She was born in Cuba, where she learned to sew at the age of eight after she “I couldn’t find anything I loved,” she said in 2012. As a teenager, she immigrated to West New York, New Jersey and eventually attended the Fashion Institute of Technology and Parsons School of Design but never graduated instead she interned for fashion editor Diana Vreeland, who was the editor in chief of Vogue.  

In 1985 she presented her first collection and quickly made a name for herself as a “designer’s designer,” known for her focus on the art of crafting the clothing, letting the fabrics guide her instead of sartorial themes. 

“I really love the technique of sewing more than anything else…the seamstress is the one who knows fashion from the inside,” she said in a 1989 interview, according to Vogue. “That’s the art form really, not fashion design, but the technique of how it’s done.”

In the late ’90s, Toledo also rejected the runway, presenting new collections in museums instead, emphasizing more the art and less the pomp and circumstance that typically surrounds fashion shows.

  Despite her desire to pave her own path in fashion and rejecting the flashiness of fashion, she was respected in the industry, with fellow Cuban designer, Narciso Rodriguez voicing his support of her works. “I admire her technique, her individuality, and her incredible eye. Her clothes are always right,” he told Vogue in 2003. 

She’d dressed celebrities including Demi Moore and Debra Messing but it was Michelle Obama’s 2009 inauguration dress during President Barack Obama’s historic win that skyrocketed her to fame. 

She met her future husband, acclaimed Cuban artist and illustrator Ruben Toledo, in high school and they married in 1984. 

He sketched her designs including the lemongrass dress with the matching overcoat that Obama wore. 

We’re levitating – we really are,” he told WWD at the time. “It’s just another shock, but a great shock.”

They had not been informed beforehand that she would be wearing the dress and first saw it at the same time everyone else did during the inauguration parade. 

“With her incredible creativity and masterful talent, Isabel designed a beautiful lemongrass outfit that I just loved,” Obama told the New York Times. “She more than met the moment — for that day and for all of history.”

One aspect of the dress, in particular, was somewhat controversial – the color. Media descriptions changed from apple green to yellow to gold but Toledo called it lemongrass, which was the fabric color that served as inspiration for the dress and said it was an “optimistic color.” She told the Associated Press that the various interpretations of the color allowed for an individual experience of the clothing, giving the moment more “depth.”

 “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,” she told AP. 

She and her husband collaborated for decades and won the Cooper Hewitt National Design Award in 2005 and she also received the third annual Couture Council Award for Artistry of Fashion from the Museum at FIT in 2008.

They had recently worked on an exhibition at the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) entitled Labor of Love. It’s central focus was the relationship between fashion and art, showcasing sculptures, paintings, and drawings that they created together, using the DIA’s collection as inspiration. The centerpiece was “Synthetic Cloud”, a series of dresses she’d sewn from layers of multi-colored tulle including sky blue, hot pink, orange, lavender, and neon green, according to Vogue

I’m not supposed to say I’m not a fashion person, but I’m not. I just, I love design,” she told CNN in 2012. “Design is so different than fashion. That’s why design lasts forever. It’s like an engineer. I love to engineer a garment.”

In 2012, she published an autobiography entitled Roots of Style, illustrated by her husband, where she discussed the influence growing up in Cuba had in her designs and how fashion became a form of art that allowed her to express herself. 

Toledo may be remembered for the inauguration dress but throughout her career, she made her designs available to the average woman as well. 

She served briefly as creative director for Anne Klein, from 2006 to 2007 and designed a series of boots, pumps, flats and handbags in a collaboration with Payless Shoe Source which has since shuttered.

In 2014, she debuted a capsule collection for plus-sized retailer Lane Bryant, saying to Jezebel:

“For me, it’s really important that women are given the opportunity to be eccentric… The liberty, the freedom, the right to be eccentric, to be their size, and to have the freedom or the opportunity to enjoy fashion at any size […] I can’t imagine not having that, so I feel a duty to provide it.”

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Fans Think This Photo Of Barbie Is Proof She’s An Out And Proud Lesbian

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Fans Think This Photo Of Barbie Is Proof She’s An Out And Proud Lesbian

Mattel/ Instagram

The fact that the early days of Barbie were not quite so inclusive to all of us comes as no surprise. The blonde, impossibly figured doll with a penchant for similar-looking friends is a far cry away from the Barbie of today who has friends of all shapes, races, sizes, sexual identities, and abilities. Even better, today’s Barbie crew includes dolls who give queer children a broader playgound for their imagination.

Recently, Barbie has added a new addition to her friend group whose bringing more power to her LGTBQ fans.

Social media has dubbed the LGBTQ positive Aimee Song doll Barbie‘s girlfriend.

Twitter’s latest excitement is about a theory that Barbie and Aimee Song are dating. Photos of Mattel’s doll Aimee Song doll show her wearing a “Love Wins” T-shirt that supports LGBTQ+ rights. The Mattel doll was inspired by fashion blogger Aimee Song and recently caught renewed attention in a viral post shared to Twitter.

The “Love Wins” photos are only now going viral but were actually released in November 2017.

The photos of Barbie and the Aimee doll were shared to Twitter last Monday by user @kissevermore and now has Twitter debating whether the two are dating.

The pictures of Barbie and Aimee show the two dolls eating avocado toast. petting a dog, and smiling at each other. The images have fans questioning when Barbie came out and how she managed to nail a hot girlfriend before they did.

Even REAL Aimee Song weighed in on the images to confirm the relationship.

“I am the girlfriend,” she tweeted with a photo of herself and the Aimee Song doll. 

While Mattel has yet to officially identify Barbie as a lesbian, the original Instagram posts related to the Love Wins Barbies are proof that she is at least an ally.

Confirmed or not, true or not, one of the best parts of Barbie is that she is meant to be whoever her fans want her to be.

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Christina Haswood Wore Traditional Navajo Clothing Made By Her Bisabuela To Her Swearing-In Ceremony And It Was The Most Powerful Look Of 2021 So Far

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Christina Haswood Wore Traditional Navajo Clothing Made By Her Bisabuela To Her Swearing-In Ceremony And It Was The Most Powerful Look Of 2021 So Far

H. Armstrong Roberts/ Getty

Newly elected member of the Kansas House of Representatives, Christina Haswood, paid tribute to her heritage on the day of her swearing-in ceremony with the ultimate power look. Dressed in traditional Navajo attire, the 26-year-old made history on Monday when she became the  youngest member of the Kansas legislature, and only its second Native American member. 

Haswood took her oath of office wearing traditional Diné regalia which she made with the help of her mother, and partner.

Wearing moccasins, a velveteen skirt, and a red blouse embellished with silver string made a point to highlight her heritage and identity. Speaking to Vogue in an interview about her clothing, Haswood explained that she “wanted to honor my ancestors and all their sacrifices for me to be here and in this job. I wanted to honor my family, who has taught me how to be a strong, young, Diné woman while growing up in Lawrence, Kansas.” 

In addition to her dress, Haswood wore heirlooms given to her by family members which included a squash blossom necklace, a belt given to her by her uncle, and an additional belt given to her by her shimá sání (grandmother). Her great grandmother also gave her the earrings she wore. In addition, she wore a tsiiyéé (a Navajo-style hair tie) that she made with her shimá sání.

“The significance of these pieces are priceless,” Haswood explained to Vogue. “Many of the pieces I wore that day only come out on special occasions, because of how old they are. I don’t have the funds to be a collector, so many of my pieces have been passed down to my mother, who lets me borrow them.”

Haswood gave a behind-the-scenes look of her swearing-in attire on a TikTok video that has gone viral with more than 500,000 views.

In the video, Haswood readies her hair and does her makeup before eventually getting help from her mother and grandmother to get dressed.

Haswood won the Democratic primary after running unopposed for a seat in the Kansas state legislature that represents District 10.

With degrees in public health from Haskell Indian Nations University and Arizona State University, Haswood also received a master’s degree in public health management from the Kansas University Medical Center.

At the moment, she also serves as a research assistant with the National Council of Urban Indian Health and the Center for American Indian Community Health. There she studies nicotine addiction in tribal youth and researches the impact of COVID-19 on indigenous groups.

“Just two years ago I was in graduate school, and my greatest worries were about getting a job and student loans,” Haswood said in an interview with the Daily Kansan. “Today, the world has changed.”

According to Esquire, four Native candidates ran for office in Kansas. This week, each of them won their primary elections.

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