Isabel Toledo’s Good Taste

After her knockout hit — that “lemongrass” dress Michelle Obama wore on Inauguration Day last year — Isabel Toledo has been on the go.

This year, the Cuban-born designer will bow a fashion-forward footwear line for Payless ShoeSource (out next month) and has collaborated with her husband, Ruben, on a swimwear collection sold exclusively at the Target store in New York’s East Harlem neighborhood, which opened last month. The Payless offering, consisting of seven styles, retails for $35 to $60 and features product that is “graphic, clean, smart, comfortable and stylistically advanced,” the designer told Footwear News. Meanwhile, the Target collection is decorated with Ruben’s artwork.

Up next, Toledo, 50, will travel to Geneva in October to showcase her latest runway collection at a 19th century opera house. “[It’s] thrilling because I haven’t been doing runway shows,” she said.

Here, Toledo shares her thoughts on music, burning bras and when reality TV was still “innocent.”

Most embarrassing moment:
“I am a very shy person. A highlight was while on a trip to a natural hot spring [in Japan]. I stepped nude into a men-only pool with my husband when I thought it was co-ed.”

Favorite weekend activities:
Gardening, biking, cooking and sleeping.

Most-loved spot in New York:
My studio/home.

Celebrity you’d like to design for next:
Karl Lagerfeld, “because I love to tailor men’s clothes.”

Most memorable vacation spot:
“Cuba in 2000 — not really a vacation, but it was the first time I returned to [where] I was born and met all 120 family members in my family tree.”

Last book you read:
“The Dirt on Clean: An Unsanitized History.”

Favorite reality TV show:
“I like the classics — MTV’s ‘Real World,’ because reality was still innocent then.”

All-time favorite band:
“Klaus Nomi’s band, probably because my husband performed in it in the early 1980s. He played a homemade sci-fi tambourine and two bamboo sticks.”

Trend you would like to see come back …
“Women burning their bras. This is an old custom in Spain on New Year’s Eve to help ensure a fully blessed New Year.”

If you weren’t a designer, what would you be?
“A farmer.”

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