News & Runway


It looks like Cuban-born designer Isabel Toledo is giving ex-Project Runway star Christian Siriano and Alice + Olivia’s Stacey Bendet a run for their money. Although her talents have been widely praised by fashion insiders for years, Toledo only received mainstream recognition when First Lady Michelle Obama wore a lemongrass yellow wool lace shift dress with matching overcoat to President Obama’s inauguration. Now Toledo is teaming with Payless for a line of handbags and shoes.

When it comes to designer collaborations with mass retailers, Payless has resulted in some of the more disappointing offerings. Shoes are very tough to make on a budget (especially comfortable ones), and while those from Christian Siriano showed lots of promise after being featured in his runway shows, once they hit stores they were significantly altered design-wise (though this is slightly less true for his latest collection, which just recently hit Manhattan stores and holds a lot more appeal).
As for Lela Rose, Alice + Olivia, and Patricia Field – all of whom have collaborated with the frugally priced chain of stores, I was surprised to see that they agreed to have their brands associated with some of the shoes that hit Payless stores, many of which were so poorly constructed that you’d only have to wear them for a few minutes to make note of the poor craftsmanship (and imminent blisters). Also, many of them were questionable, aesthetically speaking.
Toledo is an amazing designer (and after meeting her a handful of times, I can attest to the fact that she’s wonderfully gracious), but she isn’t known for shoes or handbags.
I can’t help but wish she had opted to team with Target instead of Payless. Target – why didn’t you snap her up first? That said, I’m remaining hopeful and very curious as to what the line will deliver. No images of the collection, which will be released in September, have been released, but prices will not exceed $40, and items include rain shoes, flats, and heels.

Images courtesy of the Fashion Spot forums.