story by Kari Jensen
photos by Freda Henry
New York audiences rarely clap during runway events, let alone “ooh” and “ah,” but those sounds could be heard repeatedly throughout Zang Toi’s Fall 2011 show, starting with the first look down the runway, a floor-length Loro Piana wool cape with fox collar, topping bootleg pants and a cashmere and silk ribbed turtleneck – all in shades of camel. That was one of 33 mostly monotone combinations in nude, camel, charcoal and black, a few sparked with emerald. Toi collared some daywear pieces with mink or fox and embellished some eveningwear with beads and crystals. All – even the three menswear ensembles — emanated glamour and elegance, adjectives which Toi calls his signature look.
After more than two decades as a designer (he opened his first atelier in 1989), Toi still tends to mix up his themes, showing western for Spring 2011 and outfits inspired by Prince’s iconic song “Purple Rain” in Fall 2010. Standouts this time included a body-skimming sleeveless black silk velvet gown, worn with emerald fox stole draped gracefully over the shoulders. As she walked, the model shrugged back the stole, revealing a Swarvoski crystal combination choker-necklace, gleaming verdant in the runway lights, eliciting applause. Still more clapping followed, as Toi showed an emerald silk taffeta pouf sleeved coat over an emerald A-line gown. Zoi said his couture pieces are versatile and he encourages his customers to “mix it up.” “I’d love to see a beautiful girl wear the emerald crystal necklace, with just a black bodysuit and a pair of jeans,” Toi said. “They wear it how they want to wear it. I want my lady to wear the clothes, not the clothes wear the lady.”