Interview: Adela Mazankova Photo: Jon Gurinsky and Randall Bachner
Happy St. Valentine's day people! What better day to share a feature on one of the most romantic and cool fashion couple - Isabel and Ruben Toledo? Two days ago I had a chance to meet and interview this power duo, talk about their recent collection for MAC, their infinite love for both each other and their work and the tricks to stay passionate even after 30 years of marriage and a lifetime of work in design. Get your chocolates ready and read on!
Šťastný svátek sv. Valentýna! Není lepšího dne, kdy se podělit o rozhovor s jedním z nejromantičtějších a nejoriginálnějších párů módního světa - Isabel a Ruben Toledo. Před dvěma dny jsem měla možnost tuto inpirativní dvojku potkat a popovídat si s nimi o jejich aktuální limitované kolekci pro MAC, o lásce mezi nimi i lásce k práci a o tricích, jak si i po 30ti letech manželství a celoživotní práci v designu udržet tu správnou jiskru. Bonboniéru k ruce a hurá do čtení!
To not lock out, that gives you the most. In beauty, in work and definitely in love.
Let me start of with being curious about your newest beauty collection with MAC. In some of the past interviews I read, you two defined yourselves a little as outsiders of the nowadays fashion world. Why have you decided to team up with such a popular brand, that is closely linked to fashion?
Isabel: Well, let’s face it, they’re crazy!
Ruben: Yes, they’re as crazy and brave as we are! You know it’s funny, because we feel such an affinity with MAC ever since they started in 1984. It's the year we got married, so it’s kind of like they’re cousins or brothers or sisters to us. We’ve known them all along and did a lot of collaborations in the past already.
Isabel: Actually we’ve always worked together on charities...
Ruben: ... all very creative stuff, but never real business. So it felt very grown up to finally work with them this way.
How did the collaboration go? Was it easy to work with make-up?
Isabel: More than anything it was me picking out fabrics. The people in the team thought „Well how do you want to interpret this?“ and were trying to figure out „How do you do this in make-up?“
Ruben: Yes, she actually presented them textures and colours of fabrics, sort of like „I love this red lace, I love this gorgeous velvet...“
Isabel: Or even how the hair comes out at you, so even the surface and they really had to capture the texture and interpret it in make-up.
Ruben: She‘s really done it from a fashion perspective, that’s just the way she works.
Isabel: I think one can simply be creative the same way in every field. But this one was interesting to me, because it has no age, has no size, has no fit... And the first thing you think of, when you think of fashion, is actually your face. So everyone can use this. It’s not targeted to anyone specific, no type of woman.
It shines through the collection. Do you know that these ombre palettes are actually sold out already on the 5th Ave store?
Ruben: Oh good, these are our favourites, because it looks like a painting when you look at it. Very nice! Or too bad? I want one too! No, it’s really great, because Isabel uses this fabric a lot. It’s called dégradé, where the colour starts being one and turns into another. Really like a painting.
Isabel: We did this with all the textures. The eyepencils, the matching mascaras... so when it comes out at you, instead of just being flat, it creates a 3D effect.
Ruben: You know I remember Isabel from the time we were kids, and this was like 1979-1980, and she was just so creative with make-up, more than I think is normal now, actually. She would put a beautiful yellow up her eyebrows...
Isabel: I used to colour my eyebrows, yes.
Wow, would you do that again nowadays?
Isabel: Red I would definitely use! Or blue, like an ink blue, I would do.
Ruben: She always looked so beautiful, like a painting. Shades under her eyebrows bold from the beginning and then disappearing into nothing. So it was subtle, you’d never notice, but it looked beautiful.
Isabel: I mean I watched him paint and I was like „Why can’t I paint?“
So is that the trend you are going for in this collection? Being sort of a walking art piece?
Isabel: Well I think that by giving you these colours, I am giving you the freedom to test, to experiment yourself... I don't like the idea of a designer giving you the trend that much. I mean, when I think of a trend, it’s like „Okay, it’s happened already, I don’t want it.“ When it’s a trend already, I’m moving on away from it, to something new. So, it’s important to me, that I give you the substance, the ingredients, and you create the trend.
Ruben: To me it was fabulous to see Isabel as a young girl being so attracted to things that old ladies would put on, for example. When you see something ugly and old fashioned and a 13 or 14 year old girl puts it on, she gives life to it again and because she finds that beautiful, the others will get to see it in a different way. It’s this inncredible cycle of ugly and beauty, ugly to beauty or what’s new is old, what’s new is old. It’s all connected.
Men fall in love with women that have their own world.
It must be amazing to have a man like this on your side, Isabel.
Ruben: But all men are like that when they’re in love! And that’s the thing. I think men fall in love with women that have their own world. The freedom for women to create what they look like, not exactly how everybody else looks like, that’s very beautiful empowerment. It’s beautiful to see women invent what they look like.
You’ve been together for more than 40 years now, haven’t you?
Ruben: We’ve been married 30, we met when we were 13...
Isabel: It is definitely more than 40 years with this man.
So how does one keep the spark for this long? What's the special trick?
Isabel: I totally don’t know Ruben at all!
Ruben: As people you keep growing. And you don’t lock each other into „I know this person“, you never even know yourself. And when as an artist you’re always creating and a new you comes out, layers of you keep coming out. So I always keep being surprised by the new Isabel that comes out next, you know what I mean?
Isabel: Oh, I do like to surprise you.
Ruben: You do, you love surprises. I don’t, I like continuity. But I have to be a brave man and keep up. It sort of comes with it.
Is there a similarity between maintaining passion within your relationship and your work?
Isabel: Yeah. I think it’s the same. We bring our love to everything. And if we don’t love something, we sure do not participate. That way we keep sane and happy.
Ruben: We’re lucky to be spoiled that way, ignore what we don’t love, not wasting our time and energy. Love keeps us going.
Speaking of love... It's St. Valentine's day. What would be the perfect product to gift from your new collection?
Ruben: Lipstick! I would give the women all the reds! Tied up in a big red bow and some chocolates on top.
So do you ever gift Isabel cosmetics?
Isabel: Oh he does, yes, he does! When we were young, he bought me such great eye palette from Japan. He always had a job. I used to intern at the Metropolitan and he worked.
Ruben: Yes, well I worked in Fiorucci. It was this great store, even before you were born, kind of like the day time Studio 54. It was on the 59th street and it was where I met Andy Warhol, Basquiat, Keith Harring, Lena Horne... Just incredible people went through there. That's where I had my first encounter with Patricia Fields, who was the first person who ever bought Isabel’s clothes. You know Patricia Fields, right?
We bring our love to everything.
The stylist from Sex and the City?
Ruben: Yes. So she’s an old friend of ours and she had this great store there and from one of the illustrators who worked for her, I once bought Isabel a beautiful set of these like weird futuristic silver colours for eyes. Isabel: He always surprised me like this.
Ruben: Yeah, and then what she did with it, it was like „Wow!“ She used to put it next to her eyes, like nowhere where you’d usually put make-up.
Isabel: Yes yes, I also often did like a contour around my hair line.
Ruben: Almost like a Man Ray photograph.
Isabel: Creating shadow. You see? I was always trying to create depth. Not just that one color of the lipstick you put on but depth in colour. Taking the matt lipstick for example and then the gloss in the same shade just for that little dib right in the middle of the lip. Get 3D and creative.
Ruben: Oh my, she also used to wear blush on her earlobes! She had them in pink and red. So you see from that, that applying make-up should be very personal thing, not just what we consider beauty right at this moment. And everyone would also see beauty in a different way, right? She loves the individuality, Isabel.
Isabel: We're both very open. To not lock out, that gives you the most. In beauty, in work and definitely in love.