For Spring 2013, Zang Toi puts skincare ahead of fashion

(Jan. 5, 2020 Ed. Note: Julie Macklowe’s skincare company has been rebranded as vbeauté PURE, an organic line that now features four products.  To learn more, go to

In the short amount of time that I have known fashion designer Zang Toi, I have learned very quickly that if he recommends a product, you’d better take his suggestion seriously.  Pumpkin pie at The Little Pie Company.  Leggings by Lemon Legwear.  NOT Magnolia Cupcakes (for the same collectively shared reason: the quality of the cake).

So, when a recommendation of his expands into the inspiration for an entire Spring 2013 collection, then it must be really worth taking note.  Toi turned to friend and vbeauté skincare line founder Julie Macklowe as his muse, she returning the favor by promoting him backstage before the show as the “first vbeauté man.”  Indeed, Toi – who previously swore by his former brand of choice, la prairie, for 15 years – keeps several of each product in various locations to make sure he is never without his favorite eye creams and moisturizers.

Two months after he and Macklowe hit the runway to close his French Riviera-themed show, I visited Toi’s studio where he and his photographer friend, Mitsuyo Akashi, set up shop for one of the designer’s quarterly sample sales.  As they sat surrounded by racks of hangers holding up the lilac evening gowns and knit dresses that had graced the New York Fashion Week runway, they preferred to turn my attention to the tiny table in the middle of the room instead.  There sat an array of vbeauté products in the dark purple containers that inspired the clothing, and both Toi and Akashi eagerly wanted to talk about their favorites.

Knowing that I would shortly relocate to sunnier shores, Toi insisted that I should give the Lite Up Intense Brightening Agent a try.  A serum that can be worn alone, or under sunscreen, another moisturizer or make-up, it acts as an additional preventative measure against freckles and sunspots.  Akashi recommended the Evidence Eraser Gentle Foaming Cleanser after numerous attempts, and failures, to find suitable products that would completely remove make-up at the end of the day.

Usually not one to purchase luxury skincare products without a proper trial, I decided to follow Toi’s and Akashi’s advice. Accustomed to the issues of light freckles appearing after the briefest of stints out in the sun, and leftover stubborn foundation refusing to wipe off after one wash, I had to admit that my expectations were not high.

Instead, both vbeauté products completely delivered.  The recommended usage for each largely odorless product is just one tiny pearl-sized drop.  My experience with the Lite Up serum is that this can be a bit tricky – the dispenser sometimes shoots out the product without restraint, and the external silver lining near the spout quickly started to crack and subsequently peel.  Nevertheless, the product applies smoothly and does not leave any sticky residue.

The Evidence Eraser cleanser appears to be a light gel at first glance, but it actually begins to foam slightly once in contact with and spread out over the face.  Deceptively light, it removes make-up as it is rubbed into the skin. Gone is the problem of another face-washing in the morning followed by the realization that your pores had been further clogged for the past eight hours.

I’ve already placed my order for more products, which are sold across the U.S., via an online boutique based in Norway and in Toi’s shops in Kuala Lumpur. For more information about the Lite Up Intense Brightening Agent (US$48, 1.0 oz.) or the Evidence Eraser ($24, 3.4 oz.), go to

Photo Gallery: Zang Toi – Spring 2013 New York Fashion Week
all photos by Kwai Chan / Meniscus Magazine


Make-up: BeautyByRudy for Amazing Cosmetics
Skincare: vbeauté
Manicure: Zoya Nail Polish
Hair: Eiji Salon NYC

Video: Zang Toi – Spring 2013 New York Fashion Week

video by Kwai Chan & Yuan-Kwan Chan / Meniscus Magazine