updated 28 Apr 2012, 01:09
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Fri, Feb 24, 2012
The Star/Asia News Network
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Zang Toi a firm favourite
by William KC Kee

ZANG Toi has done it again, winning a standing ovation from the audience with his red carpet looks at the recent New York Fashion Week.

With Grammy-winner Adele's Set Fire To The Rain as his soundtrack, Zang Toi kicked off his Fall/Winter collection with white mini coats and black trouser suits, before making an abrupt shift to bright red silk.

Asked why he picked Adele's song, Toi quipped in an e-mail interview, "I'm a huge fan of Adele and I am absolutely pleased with her well-deserved Grammy success as she has the most gorgeous voice. I would love to dress her!"

Known for his classic and timeless aesthetic and modern twist on sophisticated elegance, Zang Toi, 50, celebrates true Hollywood glamour this season.

After featuring a more exotic palate last year, the designer cleansed the canvas and highlighted winter white and classic blacks with pops of decadent ruby hues.

Paying homage to the jet-set crowd that travelled to Gstaad (in Switzerland) in the 60s, Zang Toi's muse is described as "lawless, polished and always the most glamorous woman in the room".

"Movie stars back in the 60s made such an effort getting dressed up for any day event or evening," said the Kelantan-born Zang Toi. "They were iconic. They spent time and effort getting ready. They were very womanly and very feminine. I wanted to celebrate the spirit that Gstaad represented as a place to see and be seen. This is a grown-up collection for the woman who is not afraid to make a statement."

Lush Loro Piana rich wools, angora blends and cashmere silks continue to play a key role in the couturier's fabric selections, including a luxurious coat made of 100% cashmere.

Lots of French lace and ratti silk also complement the collection. Looks are very tailored this season; slim trouser cuts, slim pencil skirts, lots of structure and impeccable tailoring complete the theme for daytime looks. Evening looks dripping with beading and the use of medallions make an unforgettable statement.

For the bling bling factor, there is the accessory range in the form of Zang Toi Precious Jewellery by Amee Philips, which made its debut last year. Distinct styles are crafted using mother of pearl, ruby and brilliant precious gemstones. For footwear lovers, there is Zang Toi Heels, touted to be one of the best-selling shoe brands in Malaysia.

There is also a special Zang Toi handbag made from finest Italian leather and includes ivory mother of pearl medallions and a special compartment tray under the bag to neatly hold a woman's cosmetics. Incidentally, Zang Toi has a make-up range that is set to debut at selected American retailers this fall.

All of this product development is great news for Zang Toi's legion of fans. More mature and ethnically diverse, they are more outgoing than the usual jaded New York fashion crowd. At his Fall/Winter showcase, they broke into applause for elegant gowns in fetching scarlet hues and honoured the designer with a standing ovation.

Backstage, Zang Toi, with his unbridled sense of fun, said he wanted to see women make "a real effort to look really beautiful for themselves, their husbands, their boyfriends, their lovers."

"I wanted the clothes to be very, very glamorous," he was quoted in an AFP report. "It's about glamour and gorgeous clothes for gorgeous girls."

Front-row guests included Saudi entrepreneur and film producer Mohammed Al Turki and towering Czech model Petra Nemcova, with whom the diminutive Zang Toi hammed it up for the cameras. Also in attendance were Miss Universe Leila Lopes of Angola, American reality TV stars Ramona Singer and Alex McCord (of The Real Housewives Of New York fame).

No doubt, Zang Toi's glamorous yet wearable dresses continue to be sought-after by celebrities; thus far, he has dressed stars such as Sharon Stone, Eva Longoria, Jordin Sparks and Patti Labelle. Last September, he got his long-time friend Kirstie Alley to model in his show.

"The audience's emotions showed throughout the runway show and they gave me the only standing ovation of New York Fashion Week," he enthused. For the rest of 2012, Zang Toi said he would be "working hard creating GORGEOUS clothes for all the Zangettes." He aims to explore other markets outside of the United States, such as the Middle East, providing fabulous clothes to royalty members.

His next trip to Malaysia would possibly be the end of March. "If not, definitely mid-July for my niece's wedding," he said.

To his Malaysian fans, Zang Toi had this message: "Thank you so, so very much for the love and support!"

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