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18/10 Thursday 07:40PM

bruneions interview zang toi

Photo . Anastassios Mentis

Zang Toi, it's not a name you can easily forget. An international star of the fashion realm who dresses other stars in high society half a world away, actually had humble beginnings very close to our side of the world.

Born in Kuala Krai in Kelantan, Malaysia, Zang Toi went to New York at 18, studied at the distinguish Parsons School of Design and opened his own atelier soon after. Powerful fashion editors like Anna Wintour from U.S. Vogue paid attention and featured him in the magazine. Soon, his name was on everyone's lip. In 1990, he was awarded the Mouton Cadet
Young Designer of the Year Award, which recognizes the top, young, U.S. designers of the year. Zang Toi's success has leaped from the time he started his fashion business.  He was featured in top magazines like Vogue, Vanity Fair, Time, Newsweek, New York Times etc and dressed scores of celebrities from Eva Longoria to Melinda Gates in timeless clothes that look superbly elegant, feminine and chic.

Zang Toi's Spring/Summer 2012 Collection
was showcased on September 13 during the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York and received a standing ovation. His North African-themed line is created with rich hues of deep browns, desert ebony, ivory, brilliant sapphire blue and shimmering gold accents, inspired by his visit to La Mamounia in Marrakech. Bruneions is delighted to share with you our little chat with the affable and incredibly talented Zang Toi.


Bruneions is extremely excited to have you in our online magazine. Have you been to Brunei before? What do you know of Brunei?

I have only been to Brunei once 18yrs ago, and would love to visit again, to get to know fellow Bruneians better.

You have won many awards for your work.  What was the major influence in your path to fashion? Was it something you always knew you wanted to do early on in your life?
" BEAUTY " is the singular major influence in my works. I was never one of those boy who aspired to be a fashion designer early on, but always aspire to create " BEAUTY " for the world of House of Toi!



Your Spring/Summer 2012 collection received a standing ovation at the NYFW.  The CNN commentator called it 'majestic'. How many months did it take to create this collection, from conception to runway? and share with us your memorable moment during the creation.
The SS2012 collection took 6 months from conception to runway, and the most memorable moment in creating this collection would be reconnecting with my great friend, Kirstie Alley during the fitting, after not seeing her for the past 5yrs.



We love the soft flowing sapphire-coloured fabrics and rich shimmering browns in the beginning of the show.  What are the fabrics you have employed in this collection and why do you choose them?
I open the show with a couture silk gazar linen in desert hue to set the mood of the majestic North African desert, and close the show with Brilliant Sapphire irridecent silk chiffon & organza to create the mood of Imperial Ottoman Period!

Your North African-inspired themed collection was stunning. You enlisted your friend, Kirstie Alley, to close the show in a gorgeous blue gown.  Tell us which celebrities have been loyal to the House of Toi and do you have a favorite?
I have been very fortunate to have many loyal celebrities fans ranging from Sharon Stone, Eva Longoria, Heather Graham, Kirstie Alley, Patti Labelle, and the late Elizabeth Taylor, Farrah Fawcett and Eartha Kitt. I do not have a favorite as I LOVE them all!


When you opened your first couture house in New York, who were your first few celebrity clients?
The Late Elizabeth Taylor, Gong Li and Sharon Stone.

You were born in Kelantan.  What is your best memory growing up in Malaysia?
I have the HAPPIEST childhood growing up in our beloved grocery store in Kuala Krai, Kelantan.

Your show also promoted Malaysian food through the Malaysian Kitchen. Do you cook?
I LOVE cooking especially the authentic Malay cuisine and my grandma's recipes of delicious " Hainanese " home cooking.

When you go back to Kelantan what is the first thing you want to eat?
Nasi dagang for breakfast...YUM YUM !!!

You live in New York.  What do you miss most about your hometown?
The Delicious Malay cuisine... Nasi dagang, ayam percik, laksa, satay, chengdol, kueh akok, and on and on... And of course my beloved relatives !

What must-have item you can't live without?
My signature House of Toi mini kilt !



What was your first memorable teenage fashion statement?
A $3.00 brilliant green felt baseball cap worn backward 30yrs ago...I believed I was one of the first that started the trend that become popular with all celebs these days.

Any fashion style you would not want to see make a comeback?
Off-shoulder sweatshirt a la " Flash Dance".

Which movie's costume design would you give an award to?
The Last Emperor...it showcased the GORGEOUS Chinese designs and EXQUISITE workmanship of the bygone era!

If you weren't designing clothes, what will you do instead?
A chef or interior decorator.

What advice would you give to an aspiring fashion designer who wants to be successful like you?
My one and only advise would be work ethic ; work hard, work smart !

What charity organisation do you have a soft spot for?
The Lance Armstrong Foundation... his life story of being brought up poor by a loving single mother to winning 7 times Tour de France, to establishing LAF to help the cancer survivors is truly INSPIRING !

If you had one wish, what would it be?
Be HAPPY, and always be TRUE to myself!



Watch the Zang Toi's full runway show.


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