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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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This Oaxacan Artist Is Turning Sneakers Into Her Canvas For Día De Muertos And The Results Are Incredible

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This Oaxacan Artist Is Turning Sneakers Into Her Canvas For Día De Muertos And The Results Are Incredible

dorisarellano_pintora / Instagram

As the Coronavirus pandemic has brought to a halt economies and countries around the world, it’s also helped shutter the businesses of artists who rely on galleries and street markets to sell their creations.

Mexico is one of the world’s hardest hit countries and artists in the country have had to get creative to find new clients and customers amid a global pandemic.

However, with the rising popularity of bespoke sneaker collections, one Oaxacan artist seems to have found the winning formula.

A Oaxacan artist has made sneakers her canvas and she’s highlighting her culture in this new medium.

Credit: dorisarellano_pintora / Instagram

Mexico has been one of the world’s hardest hit countries by the Covid-19 pandemic. Coronavirus-related restrictions have indefinitely closed millions of businesses across the country as tourists stopped coming to the country.

As these restrictions have impacted the livelihoods of millions of Mexicans, many have been forced to get creative. For one artist from Oaxaca, Doris Arellano Manzo, the choice was clear: a canvas is a canvas — it could be stretched over a wooden frame or stretched over a pair of athletic shoes.

Like other artists worldwide who are succeeding at beating the pandemic’s economic challenges to their careers, Arellano is learning to adapt — to be less conventional and to think quite literally a bit smaller: she now paints her art on sneakers.

Thanks to the pandemic, Arellano felt she needed to reinvent herself and her craft.

It all started in July when Arellano and her daughter Frida – a communications and social media professional, realized that Arellano needed to think outside the traditional. It was obvious that museums and galleries would likely remain closed for sometime, so how else could they bring her art to her clients?

“Since I love to paint, I can paint for you on a large canvas just as well as I can on a small one,” she recently told the newspaper Milenio. “As far as I’m concerned, while you have me here with my paints and paintbrushes, I’m thrilled.”

Each pair of shoes is unique, she said, “because it’s all done by hand, not by machine.” She describes her style as “traditionalist contemporary,” and says she is drawn to evoking the rites and customs of Oaxacan traditional culture.

Her Día de Muertos collection is garnering international attention.

Credit: dorisarellano_pintora / Instagram

Arellano’s latest collection features shoes with colorful abstract designs in bright cempasúchil orange, with lush floral wreaths and, of course, featuring the iconic Día de Muertos Catrina.

The collection was timed perfectly since so many are looking for non-traditional art amidst a very non-traditional year.

Her latest collection of work, all painted on athletic footwear, is entitled after the celebration she’s commemorating, Día de Muertos.

She says her collections are an homage to traditional Oaxacan festivities that couldn’t take place in 2020.

Credit: dorisarellano_pintora / Instagram

In addition to her recently released Día de Muertos collection which has been very popular, Arellano has created art with other Oaxacan themes.

In fact, when she first began her art-themed sneaker collection in July, at Friday’s suggestion, her sneaker art was based on the enormous festival of Guelaguetza. The Guelaguetza is a traditional Oaxaca cultural festival that had to be canceled this year due to the pandemic.

In some ways, she said, the enforced isolation of the pandemic has been a huge challenge for artists like herself, but in other ways, it’s actually been familiar.

“The work of an artist is a bit enclosed,” she admitted. “We go out when there are exhibits, when we have to go introduce ourselves in public or do interviews.”

Still, she said, the pandemic caught the art community flatfooted.

“Artists don’t have a way to show their work during the pandemic,” she said. “It’s all been halted, and we have to go back and look for new formats for the public to see what we are doing.”

It seems like 2020 has been the year of handcrafted sneaker lines.

Although Arellano is working hard to infuse her own culture into her art and her new sneaker line, she isn’t the first to do so. Just this year Nike released its take on the traditional holiday with a Día de Muertos-themed sneaker collection that had fans of both the holiday and the sneaker company excited for.

Then we got news that Bad Bunny was releasing a custom Crocs line – which flew off the shelves and are now selling for more than four times the original retail price. Plus, recent rumors say that Bad Bunny will also be launching an Adidas collaboration at some point in early 2021.

People have long been obsessed with bespoke sneaker collections, but thanks to the pandemic people are looking for new ways to support artists and satisfy their shopping cravings. We can’t think of a better way than by supporting local Indigenous artists like Arellano.

You can get more information here.

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First Crocs, Now Adidas: Bad Bunny To Launch Major Collaboration And Here’s What We Know So Far

Entertainment

First Crocs, Now Adidas: Bad Bunny To Launch Major Collaboration And Here’s What We Know So Far

Omar Vega / Getty Images

It seems like 2020 has been the year of sneaker collaborations – or in Bad Bunny’s case – Crocs collaborations. From Bad Bunny to J Balvin, Travis Scott to Christian Dior, it seems that everyone is trying to get their name on a fresh pair of sneakers.

And I’m not complaining. I love a good shoe collaboration as much as the next guy, however, news of a possible Adidas and Bad Bunny collaborations has me extra excited since both of those are my favorites of their respective worlds. For me: Adidas is to the sneaker world what Bad Bunny is to reggaetón.

So far there haven’t been a lot of details released by either San Benito nor Adidas but this is what we do know.

Adidas x Bad Bunny will be releasing an epic sneaker collection early next year.

It’s just weeks after Bad Bunny’s custom Crocs basically broke the Internet and we’re already getting news (or at least rumors) of a possible Adidas x Bad Bunny collaboration happening soon. According to a story by Complex, Bad Bunny is about to bring more of his signature looks to your sneaker collection.

The Complex story says that a source familiar with the brand’s product plans for next year told them about the likely collab. However, neither Adidas nor Bad Bunny have announced the sneaker and wouldn’t confirm the project when reached for comment. If true though, the kicks would likely arrive as part of the sportswear brand’s Spring/Summer 2021 offerings.

In a photo Complex shared of the rumored sneaker, we get a possible first look at the soon-to-be sold out sneaker. The color palette featured on the Puerto Rican’s take on the Forum silhouette looks quite similar to his crocs with all-beige detailing that very well may also be glow-in-the-dark. The kicks seem to feature light blue design details on the sole and side sole of the shoes.

An Adidas x Bad Bunny collab will likely do as well or even better then his recent Crocs launch.

If rumors are true, the Forum would be El Conejo Malo’s first sneaker collaboration, although he already has a wildly-successful Crocs line that he released in September. And fans have proven themselves willing to go to great lengths to get their hands on Bad Bunny anything basically (myself included!).

The Crocs retail for $60 USD but are already being resold for more than $200 USD on sites like e-bay. Not to mention that the Crocs launch left many fans disappointed because of their instant success – the line sold out within minutes.

When the collab was initially announced, Bad Bunny called himself a “longtime fan” of the famous brand, adding that he hoped his version inspires his fans to “have their own fun with their personal style and wearing what makes them happy.”

He even got a little sentimental, adding: “I believe in being true and not placing limitations on myself, which is also something Crocs represents, and this is the message I always want to make sure I send out to my fans.”

For those of you who aren’t well-versed in Croc lingo, Jibbitz charms are jewelry-like flair you can pin through the holes of your Crocs. The Bad Bunny x Crocs Jibbits reference his music from his recent YHLQMDLG album–fire emojis, stars, planets, a man holding a sign that says: zona de perreo. And, of course, there was a bunny Jibbit as well.

It’s no secret that Bad Bunny is a sneaker lover.

In a 2018 episode of Sneaker Shopping on Complex, Bad Bunny explained his footwear history, saying that his native Puerto Rico was lacking in boutique stores.

“Ever since I was a child, I’ve liked sneakers,” Bad Bunny said then.

He’s not the only Latin trap artist that’s expected to release their own shoe soon. Colombian reggaeton star J Balvin said in an April interview with High Snobiety that his Air Jordan 1 collaboration was supposed to launch in November. Jordan Brand hasn’t confirmed this news.

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