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Fashion darlings Isabel and Ruben Toledo are bringing their love of fashion and art to a MAC counter near you. Isabel, the Cuban-American designer, who shot to fame after dressing First Lady Michelle Obama for the presidential Inauguration, and her equally gifted artist husband, are set to launch a 45-piece makeup collection for MAC on February 5th that's inspired by their real-life love story that came to life during Studio 54's heyday.
There's no lack of color here- the collection packs a punch with vibrant hues of soft lilacs, electric lime greens, and intense reds, and lots and lots of texturized red lipsticks, which happens to be Isabel's signature shade. Ruben is the master behind the black and white packaging which features eye-popping big eyed faces with pursed red lips, all modeled after his number one muse- Isabel. The dynamic duo chatted with us about love at first sight, beauty regimens, and their pension for cafecitos!
I can finally buy the essence of Isabel Toledo in a tube! How did this collaboration with MAC come about?
Ruben Toledo: We were thrilled when M∙A∙C approached us to work on a collection together; it was a dream-come-true. We share a long history of 30 years with M∙A∙C, collaborating on many of the same charity projects. The opportunity to create objects of art and desire came together like a family affair, especially since M∙A∙C works brilliantly with artists and they have a global following of fans. James Gager [M·A·C creative director] and Jennifer Balbier [M·A·C VP of product development] gave us complete creative freedom and helped bring our vision to life.
It's only fitting that Ruben adds his energy and talent to the design element of the collection. How did you come up with illustrations? What was your inspiration behind them?
RT: When creating the different illustrations for the collection I was inspired by the fluidity of the lines and the spur-of-the-moment feel of it. If I'm doing a portrait I start with the eyes. If the eyes don't speak to me, then I just start over again. I need to capture that one thing in the eyes where the mystery and the soul are. I love painting, the drawing of the lines and the graphics of it all. It is my passion on paper.
Isabel, do you remember the moment that red became your signature look?
Isabel Toledo: Red lips for me always look elegant, modern, sophisticated and slick. Red is universal and cosmopolitan. It can be subversive and classic at the same time. You have to mean it and believe it when you wear red. It is not sloppy. It is purposeful and vibrant.
Isabel, what is one beauty product you cannot leave home without?
IT: I love baby oil. I put it on right after I shower; it leaves my skin feeling silky soft for the entire day.
Ruben, do you remember the moment that you first noticed Isabel? I'm a sucker for your story!
RT: Yes, it was like a lightning bolt! If you have ever experienced love at first sight, this is it. It was my first day in high school and as she walked in all I could see was sunshine and rays of light around her. I could not look away or think of anything else - which has been for over 40 years now. I'm a really shy guy, but suddenly all I could think about was how to conquer Isabel, how to woo her and how to make her feel for me.
Some of the colors, like the eye shadow palettes, are influenced by your love of vibrant shades during Studio 54's heyday. Was it the music? The fashion? The glitz and glamour that brought these colors to life? Or a little bit of all?
IT: I love poetic colors, unusual combos, and nameless hues, all unexpectedly mixed in with the everyday. For me, it's much more about the tones than the actual colors. For instance, I love nudes with neon or a smoky mysterious eye with a bright and happy futuristic red lip. I love to see denim worn with just a t-shirt accompanied by deep operatic lips. Studio 54, disco, punk, and new wave allowed for a lot of freedom of expression in the way I dressed, danced, and presented myself. It was a great way for me to find my look as a young lady of 14 and 15! I went from wearing jeans and a tube top with smoky film noir makeup one night, to futuristic yellow brows paired with a nude mouth the next. Makeup moves faster than fashion, that's what makes it so fresh.
Isabel, what's your beauty regimen? Are you a makeup junkie?
IT: I like to keep it simple. Clean healthy skin is first and then I let the mood of my day direct my lip color, which is always the leader. The right tone of lipstick is what signifies the mood. Well, that and my perfume of course.
What's it like to work together on everything you create? Who's easy going? Who's easily stressed?
RT: I'm the fatalist, stressed out dude who knows dooms day really well. Isabel is a cool cat. She never lets anything distract from her vision.
IT: But he's the one who jumpstarts everything! He jumps right in and starts the fire, which inspires me to act.
RT: We are both Aries! Born only one day apart, but so very different in how we see things and how we behave. That's why working together always feels fresh and inspiring. We come at things from different angles, which is how the creative collision happens. The sparks fly.
Most star struck moment?
IT: Staying with Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall in their Chateau the one summer we were motoring through France. Ron Wood and his wife at their Moroccan tent in the garden- it was simply glamorous!
And because we can't ignore the fact that you're Cuban and this is Racked Miami, what's your favorite thing to do when you land in here?
IT: Beach, beach, beach! 26th and Collins is our Miami hideaway. We walk our way through the entire South Beach waterfront and dine outdoors wherever we go.
Cortadito, cafecito or colada? What's your poison?
IT: All three, thank you! Ruben makes the best Cuban café complete with the handmade foam from the first drops of coffee. He is a café connoisseur.
What do you love about the fashion in Miami?
IT: People wear their clothes with no fuss or worry, but instead so much casual outdoor glamour. Miami is just really contagious and makes everyone happy to just be there. For me, I pull on a dress, put my wet hair up in a towel-ish turban, swipe some lipstick on and go out. Now that's tropical splendor.