WORDS best describe Zang Toi’s fall 2004 collection as presented
at the newly renamed Olympus New York Fashion Week: elegantly
understated glamour—but with a decidedly modern twist. Mr Toi,
who’s equally as comfortable on an airplane travelling the world
showcasing his various collections to royalty and valued customers
alike as is he at home at his studio–showroom in New York City,
drew the inspiration for his collection from the stylish iconic
beauty of famous (and infamous) Parisienne women such as: legendary
film actresses Catherine Deneuve and Jeanne Moreau; the late, great,
American expatriate Josephine Baker; the late esteemed social lioness,
the Baroness Marie-Hélène de Rothschild; Victoire
de Castellane (the Artistic Director of Fine Jewellery at LVMH’s
House of Dior); and a modern-day beauty-in-training, the young,
acclaimed actress, Audrey Tatou; as well as the grandiose decorative
art of Louis XV at Versailles.
These women, past and present, are known for their
fierce individualism, which has allowed their beauty, inside and
out, to shine all the more throughout the years. It is no wonder
then that Mr Toi was inspired to design one of his most fully cohesive
and conceptualized collections in recent years.
Right off the bat, one of the knocks against Mr
Toi has been that, in the past, he has too liberally interpreted
the inspirations for his various collections to the point where
it has worked against him. There may be some truth to that in
the past but the same cannot be said about this collection.
The qualities that made these women style icons for the ages are
fully represented in the designs that came down the runway at Bryant
Park, but only the lightest possible essence. He held it
together and produced one of his most restrained collections. From
beginning to end, it was a presentation that lifted the spirits
and, in its own way, rescued the New York fall shows from a deepening
sea of morass that threatened to sink the whole enterprise.
He opened the show with a model wearing a mini-tiger-stripe
fur coat with a black ribbon stash, touching on one of the more
prevalent themes of the week: fur coats with leopard spots and animal
stripes patterns in various lengths, including the accompanying
full length gloves and hats. This look was youthful and modern,
thus demonstrating that he, too, was in the business of extending
his brand beyond his natural customer base.
RIGHT: Images from
the Zang Toi fall 2004 collection, front of house and backstage.
BOTTOM FAR RIGHT: Farrah Fawcett
are known for their ﬁerce individualism, which has
allowed their beauty, inside and out, to shine all the more
throughout the years