Award-winning artists and designers Isabel and Ruben Toledo to deliver 2019 CCAD commencement address

Apr 11, 2019
Ruben and Isabel Toledo are the 2019 CCAD Commencement speakers at Columbus College of Art & Design

COLUMBUS, Ohio—Award-winning artists and designers Isabel and Ruben Toledo will deliver the 2019 Columbus College of Art & Design Commencement address on Saturday, May 11.

The Toledos, who will also receive honorary doctorates from CCAD, are Cuban-born artists and designers who married in 1984. They have evolved their iconic design vocabulary to include fashion, costumes, sets, furniture, mannequins, ceramics, graphics, and animated films. Their combined works garnered a Smithsonian Museum-Cooper Hewitt National Design Award and numerous books and museum exhibitions worldwide, including Bodies @ Work (at Columbus Museum of Art) and Labor of Love (at Detroit Institute of Arts).

“As Columbus College of Art & Design celebrates our 140th anniversary, we’re thrilled to have the incredibly talented artists and designers Isabel and Ruben Toledo address the next generation of artists and designers as they graduate,” said CCAD President Melanie Corn. 

Isabel Toledo has been described as a “radical classicist” for her iconic designs since the inception of her namesake fashion collections in 1984. Highly regarded for designing first lady Michelle Obama’s historic inauguration ceremony lace ensemble, she was also nominated for a Tony Award for best costume design for a musical (for her work on the Broadway musical After Midnight). Isabel Toledo’s memoir Roots of Style was published by Penguin in 2012.   

Ruben Toledo’s work has been published worldwide, including in The New York Times, The New Yorker, and Vogue, and has been exhibited in museums such as The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Together, the couple lives and works in New York City.

About CCAD’s 2019 Commencement

CCAD’s 140th Commencement will take place at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 11, 2019, at Mershon Auditorium. For more information, visit

About Isabel & Ruben Toledo

Award-winning artist designers Isabel and Ruben Toledo have created and evolved their uniquely individualistic art and design vocabulary since they married in 1984. The Cuban-born teenagers met and forged a romantic and professional love affair which flowered into a wide-reaching repertoire traversing disciplines such as fashion and costume design, illustration, graphic design, animated films , furniture, mannequin and ceramic designs, all resulting in a Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award in Fashion Design in 2005. Their body of work has been exhibited in numerous museums worldwide, and publications on their work include Toledo/Toledo: A Marriage of Art and Fashion in 1998, Isabel Toledo: Fashion from the Inside Out in 2008 from Yale University Press and a memoir Roots of Style in 2012 from Penguin Books.

Described as a radical classicist, Isabel Toledo designs and constructs her namesake collections at the Toledos’ legendary Midtown studio since 1984, and has participated in New York, Barcelona, and Paris Fashion week presentations. Isabel Toledo was named creative director of the iconic brand Anne Klein in 2006. She is highly regarded for her iconic lemongrass inauguration dress designed for first lady Michele Obama in 2009. Her insider/outsider status has allowed her to design large-scale collaborations with major brands such as Target and Lane Bryant while remaining a well-kept fashion insiders’ secret with her couture designs. Isabel Toledo was nominated for a Tony award for her costumes in the Broadway musical After Midnight with music by Duke Ellington and musical director Wynton Marsalis and has also created costumes for dance legends Twyla Tharp and Christopher Wheeldon.

Ruben Toledo is a painter, sculptor, fashion chronicler, and critic has created witty and incisive illustrations for top international fashion magazines and journals including The New Yorker, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Town & Country, Visionaire, and The New York Times. His watercolors of 100 global cities are found in the Louis Vuitton City Guide series for LVMH. Ruben’s work has been exhibited at prestigious institutions, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, Victoria and Albert Museum in London, as well as Piti Palace in Florence, Italy. He animated a film about the history of couture titled Fashionation. He is author of Style Dictionary and The Fashion Almanac, has illustrated many books including Nina Garcia’s series of books on fashion and Laren Stover’s Bombshell’s Manual of Style. Ruben illustrated the Penguin Classic series, which includes Pride and Prejudice, Dracula, and Wuthering Heights.

The Toledos launched their first fragrance collection in 2015—Hot House Beauties—including Crystal Honey, Kubarose, Pink Putti, and Isabel Isabel Moon Orchid, which garnered a Rising Star Award from Fashion Group International. The Toledos have been the subject of numerous museum exhibitions of their combined works including Bodies @ Work at Columbus Museum of Art in Ohio in 2017 and most recently, Labor of Love at Detroit Institute of Arts in 2019.


  • The Fashion Group International Rising Star Award, 2017
  • American Apparel & Footwear Association Future of Fashion Award, 2015 
  • Otis College of Art and Design Innovation Award, 2014
  • DIFFA: Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS Rockwell Service Award, 2013
  • American Image Awards Fashion Maverick Award, 2011
  • Vanidades Icon of Style Award, 2011 
  • High School of Fashion Industries Award, 2011 
  • Fashion Group International Lifetime Achievement Award, 2011 
  • El Diario Newspaper’s Premio Mujer Destacada Award, 2011 
  • The Savannah College of Art and Design André Leon Talley Lifetime Achievement Award, 2009
  • The Gordon Parks Foundation Award for Excellence in the Arts Award, 2009 
  • Couture Council Award for Artistry of Fashion, 2008 
  • Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar Golden Needle Award, 2008 
  • Fashion Group International Design Excellence Award, 2006
  • Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award in Fashion Design, 2005
  • Kent State University Fashion Hall of Fame Award, 2005
  • Antonio Lopez Moda Award for Hispanic Designers, 1995   

Isabel and Ruben Toledo were awarded an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts in 2010 from Otis College of Art and Design in California.

About Columbus College of Art & Design

Columbus College of Art & Design teaches undergraduate and graduate students in the midst of a thriving creative community in Columbus, Ohio. Founded in 1879, CCAD is one of the oldest private, nonprofit art and design colleges in the United States, and in 2019, the college is celebrating 140 years of creative excellence. CCAD offers 12 BFA programs and two master’s programs in art and design that produce graduates equipped to shape culture and business at the highest level. For more information, visit


Above: Isabel and Ruben Toledo. Credit: Karl Lagerfeld

Media contact

Jeannie Nuss
Director of Public Relations