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Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Zang Toi Fall 2020 - New York New York

New Yorkkkkkk! Zang Toi's fall 2020 collection brought all the glamor home this season with a tribute to NYC.
Toi's NYFW shows are usually a classic, escapist fantasy inspired by jet setting destinations. Classical music, big band, aristocratic soundtracks often accompanied his elegant runways.
For fall 2020, his muse is his adopted home of New York. While the clothing was no less luxurious, it had a distinctive, urban, sharper, almost grittier appeal?
You could hear the change before the first model with a thumping contemporary soundtrack, beginning with Jay-Z's now-iconic New York duet with Alicia Keys. It continued with other rappers who expressed their love for Gotham, only ending with Frank Sinatra's New York, New York, for his final bow.
The day looks had chic shades of gray tweed, black, representing the elegance of the Upper East Side of Manhattan. The architectural looks gave way to lots of black (the unofficial uniform of the NY fashion set) paired with ultra-bright pop colors like red, fuschia, purple, green, blue inspired by the Downtown art scene. The color palette brought me back to the urban glam and polished looks that dominated billboards in 90s New York.
Most stunning were the looks incorporating the New York City skyline with intricate embroidery and beading.
Zang Toi has been somewhat controversial the past few seasons by having members of the Trump family as guests and having Rudy Giuliani sit front row for this show. While I can't vouch for his politics, Giuliani WAS mayor of the city during one of its most difficult times. 
In the previous season, the show was held at the Women's Republican house, which made non-Republicans uncomfortable. Zang expressed how Ivana Trump was an early supporter of his business, as well as the rest of the family, and he wanted to show his appreciation of his opportunities, politics or not. 
Here is where I learned a lot about diplomacy from Zang Toi: As an immigrant and employer of immigrants, he made a point of having all of the guests stand for the Malaysian national anthem, in a room of barely concealed MAGA hats. The collection that year was of traditional Malayasian silhouettes and textiles, giving guests an instant education on another culture whether they liked it or not. Third, while the Republicans stocked their seats with GOP trophy wives, Toi likely brought more diversity and inclusiveness from HIS guest list (like me) than that building has ever seen, forcing everyone to mingle and socialize.
As a designer, you can choose to ignore all politics. You can choose to design your collection and make the clothes an instrument of political messages (like Pyer Moss). You can choose to make your presentation an expression of your beliefs like Naeem Khan. Zang Toi, as a designer chose a fourth option, to use fashion as an occasion to bring disparate groups together to appreciate something together, the beauty of style.
I plan on voting and urge everyone who cares about their fellow human beings to vote. We all know which party and which candidates do and don't care about people from their actions and words. Keep it classy. Keep it kind. Make Zang Toi and his beloved New York Proud!

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