Story By: Lieba Nesis

Jean Shafiroff And Zang Toi

Malaysian designer Zang Toi, 56, held his fashion show this week at Pier 59 studios. 

Zang, who was awarded a knighthood by the Sultan of Kelantan in 1997 and given the title of "Datuk" by the King of Malaysia in 2013 is a darling of the New York social set for both his incredible accomplishments and his winning demeanor. Toi is a graduate of Parsons School of Design and opened his own atelier in 1989 with a modest collection of sarongs, suits and dresses. He has since dressed Sharon Stone, Meg Ryan, Jean Shafiroff, Ivana Trump, Patti Labelle and many other luminaries. His clothing is available in the couture department at Nordstrom, fine specialty boutiques and at his store on 1046 Lexington Avenue. Zang is an original and he spreads goodwill wherever he goes. 

On The Runway

The highlight of fashion week was attending his show because of the cool elegance he executed so effortlessly. Zang said that his collection was inspired by the palazzos and monuments of Rome and his clothing looked straight out of the movie "The Garden of the Finzi-Continis." The 32 looks presented covered the gamut from demure greys to bright oranges and pinks; this was signature Zang-beginning the show with more businesslike attire and escalating the excitement with one red carpet look after another.

The opening look featured a royal mink sculpted coat with a cashmere charcoal jumpsuit-I rarely see fur at a Zang collection and I liked what I saw. The royal mink placed on the collar and sleeves of the cashmere grey suits were perfection. I was beginning to think I was at a Dennis Basso presentation. Zang even had a model carrying a knapsack and featured girls with red and pink tights with matching sleeves and hats-a possible indication that Zang was targeting a younger market. The Andrea Bocelli music accompaniment was divine transporting the audience to a garden in Rome. When the embroidered capes and floral gowns came down the runway the transformation was complete. 

Creativity abounded, with colored beading presented on the back of tights and a backward diamond necklace adorning a model's neck-Zang wasn't missing a trick. Zang knows his colors and this year he used them to tremendous effect with bright silk florals and caped dresses in pink and orange hanging impeccably on the models who walked languidly down the runway. The black floral silk gown was nothing short of extraordinary and when these looks were accompanied by floral hats and lavish trains the drama was palpable. One of the model's orange wigs blended seamlessly with the color of the floral hat-a fun touch. The men were equally regal but I was missing dancer Cory Stearns who usually graces the runway. 

Concluding the show was a princess look of real hand appliqued red and orange silk bouquet flowers adorning the hat and skirt of the model. While Zang's specialty is undoubtedly dramatic capes with embroidered detail and jeweled collars this collection manifested a proficiency in furs and suits. In January 2018 style star Lupita Nyong'o attended the "Black Panther" premiere in a purple Versace dress with a gold jeweled collar and belt that had the name Zang written all over it-when Versace is copying your designs they must be pretty extraordinary.

Photo Courtesy Of: Patrick McMullan / Shafiroff Collection