Zang Toi Fall 2006 – New York Fashion Week


Despite the fact that I had to wade through one of the thickest lines – or dare I say, mobs – at Fashion Week yet, I was very happy to have received an invite to a show for a designer as big as Zang Toi. Asian designers have really made their mark at Fashion Week over the years, and this year’s list is plentiful: Richard Chai, Thakoon, Vera Wang, Vivienne Tam, Anna Sui, Peter Som and so on.

Zang Toi, a Malaysian who attended the Parsons School of Design, made his mark in 1991 when he won the Mouton-Cadet Young Designers Award. His celebrity clients include Debra Messing, Sharon Stone and Ivana Trump, and his clothes have also been displayed at the Kennedy Center. With such a weighty resume, the expectations were high, but I could not have prepared myself for what would come next, even as the classical orchestral music played as a lilting waltz during the prologue.

The main stage featured two large scrolls with black & white pictures of formally-dressed women from yesteryear, a sign of regal things to come. Instead of taking a traditional runway approach, the show opened with a number of models posing in front of these scrolls as if they were in a painting. One by one, they took their turns on the runway, the looks escalating from grand gala arrivals to full-out glamour. Pieces shown early in the show included grey, charcoal and black coats and blazers that resembled a chic Fifth Avenue in the late fall.

But Zang Toi saved his best for last with numbers that any woman who wants to be the belle of the ball should don. His gowns – in particular, a black silk velvet strapless gown with beaded diamond necklaces that even had Miss USA Chelsea Cooley ooh-ing – could have fit right into a very grown-up version of the Paris Haute Couture Ball. Even when the lone male model straggled through, showcasing some menswear and eliciting some laughter from the audience, it seemed to be more tongue-in-cheek than out-of-place.

I never thought I would find myself near tears at the end of a fashion show. Maybe it was the pride in seeing a fellow Asian put together such a well-received collection. Or maybe it was in seeing such elegance extraordinaire in the flesh.

Photos: Zang Toi Fall 2006 – New York Fashion Week
all photos courtesy of Zang Toi

Video: Zang Toi Fall 2006 – New York Fashion Week runway highlights
video by Yuan-Kwan Chan / Meniscus Magazine