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Couture Council's
Artistry in Fashion Award Luncheon
Honoring Isabel Toledo
Rainbow Room
September 3, 2008

Written by Wendy R. Williams
Photographed by Belkis Carrasco

Opposite Photo:
Ruben and Isabel Toledo

Isabel and Ruben Toledo Isabel Toledo and Narcisco Rodriguez

The Couture Council of FIT rang in Spring 2009 Fashion Week with their third annual Artistry in Fashion Award Luncheon. This year’s honoree was fashion icon Isabel Toledo; the first year’s honoree was Ralph Rucci, the second year - Alber Elbaz of Lanvin).

The luncheon was held on September 3, 2008 at the Rainbow Room and was hosted by Glenda Bailey (Editor in Chief of Harper’s Bazaar), Jeffrey Peek (CEO of CIT) and Carol Hamilton (CEO of L’Oreal). The luncheons chairs were Yaz Hernandez, Liz Peek and Sarah Wolfe.

The always witty Simon Doonan of Barney’s, the luncheon emcee, introduced performance artist Joey Arias, as the "long-lost illegitimate son/daughter of Isabel and Ruben Toledo." Arias then performed a beautiful mixed media piece (film and a ventriloquist dummy!!) to Billie Holiday's "You've Changed."

Isabel Toledo and FIT's Dr. Joyce Brown

FIT's director, Dr. Joyce Brown, told us that FIT graduates design everything from the toys our children play with to the rings on our fingers. Next, the audience heard (briefly) from the events underwriters: Carol Hamilton of L'Oreal who told us that she jumped on the chance to sponsor the event when asked by Glenda Bailey; Harper's Bazaar Editor Glenda Bailey (who did not realize she was supposed to give a speech but was gracious and funny anyway); and from CIT’s Jeffrey Peek who spoke just a bit more, but who also told us that he had been forewarned that he was supposed to speak (and since he is the CEO of CIT, is probably always ready to speak). All of the speakers spoke about how happy they were to support he museum at FIT, the importance of fashion as art and the admiration they had for Isabel Toldeo.

The award was presented by Vogue’s Andre Leon Talley who spoke of the beauty of Isabel Toledo’s fashion, her elegant eye and her beautiful pattern cuts. Talley also said that the magic of Isabel and Ruben is that they never lost their childlike sense of wonder.

Simon Doonan then presented a slide show that supposedly was “just thrown together” by Isabel’s husband, the artist Ruben Toledo. This “thrown together” slide presentation was actually a beautiful and professional presentation that told the story of Isabel and Ruben’s lives from their childhood in Cuba (Isabel’s mother, Bertha, had eighteen sisters), through their teenage years in New Jersey (where they met) and on to their rise in the worlds of New York art and fashion.

Simon then introduced Isabel who thanked everyone, referencing Joey Arias as her midnight poet and thanking FIT Museum director Valerie Steel for loving the artist in fashion designers. Isabel spoke movingly of how much the late Diana Vreeland meant to her and how Vreeland told her that fashion contributes to the history of our times. And that she, Isabel, is inspired by the knowledge that by creating fashion, she is shaping history. Isabel ended her talk by thanking us for coming and having lunch with her. Isabel then said that she had never thanked her husband, Ruben, in public and did not think she could now. She was tearing up and so were we.

Ruben then told the assembled “ladies who lunch” that the placemats we were using were actually party favors. Each one was a signed drawing of Isabel by Ruben Toldo which we all gratefully took home.

Simon Doonan Narcisco Rodriguez and Ruben Toledo

Harper's Bazaar's Glenda Bailey

FIT Museum Director Valerie Steele
Candy Pratts Price and Yaz Hernandez Michaela Angela Davis
Hamish Bowles Carol Romer
Ludwig Kuttner and Beatrix Ost Hillary, Jeffrey and Katie Peek
Sharon Handler Andre Leon Talley
Fabiola Beracasa Cathy Hardwick, Dennis Vasso
and CeCe Cord
Sarah Wynter Abby Manning & Libby Tisch
Alexandra Lebenthal Whitney and Sarah Wolfe

Beatrix Ost and Ludwig Kuttner's Shoes

Hillary, Katie and Elizabeth T. Peek

Photographer Daniel Perry
Photo Credit Belkis Carrasco
Photographer Belkis Carrasco
Photo Credit Daniel Perry

For information on the Couture Council, call 212-217-4532 or e-mail Couturecouncil@fitnyc.edu.

FIT Museum



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