DALLAS, Aug 9, 2010 / FW/ — A pionner at Bryant Park, Zang Toi first showed under the tents in September 1995, four years after taking the New York fashion scene by storm in Fall 1991 when he held his first ever runway show at the former Westbury Hotel.

A longtime favorite among fashionistas, Zang Toi is a bona fide Seventh Avenue success story, with his creations being worn by a veritable who’s who that include Melissa Gates, (Mrs. Bill Gates), Sharon Stone and the late Farah Fawcett. He has also dressed Middle Eastern princesses and New York debutantes.

And though Zang Toi was a New York Fashion Week mainstay through all the years that saw General Motors, Olympus and Mercedes-Benz as main sponsors, for the past several years, the Malaysian-born designer has chosen to show off site.

“It was really for a good cause,” said Zang Toi. A strong supporter of Lance Armstrong’s Live Strong Foundation, Zang Toi uses one of his two fashion shows per year as a fund raising event for the Live Strong Foundation.

Catching up with Zang Toi after his trip to Monaco and the French Riviera, FashionWindows chatted with him about Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week’s move to the Lincoln Center.

“I’m thrilled about the move,” said Zang Toi. “It’s exciting to move the fashion tents to the cultural center of New York. This is also the reason why I have decided to show there this season.”

During its tenure at Bryant Park, New York Fashion Week, (known today as Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week) made Bryant Park synonymous with fashion not only in the U.S. but the whole world.

Chosen because of its proximity to 7th Avenue, which is the Big Apple’s fashion district, Bryant Park was the perfect location for fashion week for almost two decades. But, the dynamics had changed. Aside from the fact that the management of Bryant Park had asked fashion week to move, it is also obvious among fashionistas that fashion week had also outgrown Bryant Park.

When New York Fashion Week began 18 years ago, it was trying to find its rightful place as a fashion capital in relation to London, Milan and Paris. Today, New York is as much as a trendsetter as its sister fashion cities.

Believing that change is good, Zang Toi expects positive transformations of fashion week when it goes to Lincoln Center. “I hope that Lincoln Center helps bring a touch of glamour as a venue, something that Bryant Park was missing,” commented Zang Toi.

As most fashion critics will concur, one of the limitations of the tents as a venue was it was hard to create a holistic approach for a fashion show, wherein atmosphere is as much as part of the show as the clothes. New York fashion week is not a stranger to big productions but it is also a known fact that the elaborate fashion shows are held off-site.

Positive changes that can occur at Lincoln Center as a venue is that it will be able to host highly structured shows.

After discussing with Zang Toi our “want list” at Lincoln Center that include proper lounges – a press lounge for journalists, a photographer’s lounge even a spacious VIP lounge to hold product launches, the conversation turned to his upcoming collection.

Not ready yet to give us a sneak peek of his Spring 2011 collection, Zang Toi instead told us his vision of Spring 2011, which he sees as a harbinger of a golden decade of fashion.

“One good thing that came out of the recession is that it challenged designers to be very creative,” said Zang Toi.

“Of course, as designers, it is easy to say that we are always creative. The recession was an outside factor, driving us to come up with new ideas and new silhouettes. Hence, I see the 2011s heralding a new golden age of fashion the same way that the 1911s paved the way for the iconic looks of the 1920s.”

ZANG TOI Spring 2011
Wednesday, 9:00 PM
September 15, 2010
Lincoln Center

New York Fashion Week Spring 2011