NYFW: Zang Toi Celebrates 25 Years of the American Dream

  • 2014 Eka Halim

     (2014 Eka Halim)

  • 2014 Eka Halim

     (2014 Eka Halim)

  • 2014 Eka Halim

     (2014 Eka Halim)

Zang Toi celebrated 25 years at his Spring 2015 fashion show at New York Fashion Week.

The Malaysian-born designer was honored by the photographers and cameraman at the end of his latest fashion show with a birthday cake as the crowd sang 'happy birthday.' The designer had to be dragged back to the end of the runway by the normally stern photographer and fashion week enforcer Richard Renda.

In an interview after the show, Toi told me he is very shy and he was embarrassed by the attention, "I hate walking the runway.. I always will."

At the same time, he called it an honor and a memory he will always cherish.

Toi called the collection an homage to America. He said "celebrating my 25th anniversary, I was thinking about America, thanking America. I wanted to show my love and appreciation for America."

Toi came to New York with just $300 in his pocket. He studied at Parson's, but he needed a job. He was fortunate to find work with a well-known Soho designer, and his fashion career was off to the races. He told me he is living proof of the American dream, "any immigrant who comes here, we can still live the american dream." He told me business is good.

The clothes were dramatic as always. He said it was a tribute to American styling with twin sets over ball gowns, Ivy League striping, and even a little rock and roll including the use of crocodile.

The music included Lenny Kravits' "American Woman," Ray Charles' "America the Beautiful," and "Coming to America," by Neil Diamond.

Toi said, "My job as a desginer is simple: Make my audience feel good with a smile on their face when they leave my show."

Among those likely smiling after the Spring show were attendees New York Times photographer Bill Cunningham and Whoopi Goldberg.

-Clint Henderson

Clint Henderson is the Executive Producer for “Happening Now” and an avid traveler. Follow his adventures on Twitter, ClintPHenderson, and Instagram, clintpage1.