Monday, March 19, 2012


Celebrated fashion designer Isabel Toledo has published a beautiful memoir entitled Roots of Style: Weaving Together Life, Love, and Fashion, an ode to the rich personal history that has shaped her character and informed her aesthetic. Poignant, honest, and written from a place of pure love, Isabel's book is deeply touching even from the first few pages. She writes about fashion in the same way I feel it: shaped by childhood experiences and vibrant memories, residing in one's bones as an innate curiosity and inherent creativity. Isabel's words are brought to life by drawings by her husband, prolific fashion illustrator Ruben Toledo, and their love is virtually tangible in their collaboration. I was again moved at how inextricably weaved together their vision and lives are, and how naturally strong their support for each other is. On falling in love, Isabel writes, "While I was busy playing, sewing, dancing, and growing up, I discovered that Ruben was the missing link, in the best possible sense of those words".

I haven't read the whole book yet, but I am enjoying it so much I wanted to share right away. Here are some more beautiful excerpts I have loved so far, along with a few pictures snapped on my phone:

Photos: Instagram

"For me, style and fashion inspire optimism above all, while giving me the tools to communicate. Fashion is what time looks like, and that's something I take very seriously. Indeed, it is the very texture and weave of life. When First Lady Michelle Obama wore my coat and dress of that gloriously frozen Inauguration Day, I was woven into time, and into history itself. For me, a political refugee, that moment was an enormous accomplishment and a humbling gift from the universe. Without fashion, I never would have had a voice."

"Every time I create a new collection, I am weaving together the threads of my history, my experiences, and my emotions into cloth, texture, color, and shapes based on a woman's anatomy."

"There is no such thing as a map or a safety net when you are an artist. But I have always used these childhood memories and lessons as touchstones whenever I need to tap into my emotions or question my next step as I create something new. Our childhood experiences inform who we are, because it is then that we begin to discover our passions, talents, and habits."

"This philosophy is like the beauty of jazz. When jazz musicians are all jamming and playing from their inner emotions, you don't just hear the music. You feel it. In a similar way, your style flows naturally when who you are on the inside is in harmony with how you live your life on the outside."

"Love fuels every aspect of my life and is woven into everything I do. Love was the guiding light that introduced me at a young age to my husband, the artist and illustrator Ruben Toledo, who fell in love at first sight with a shy dreamer of a girl." 

I look forward to reading the rest, and hope it inspires all its readers to "follow their instincts, trust their individuality, and discover their own personal style signature".

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