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Zang Toi Fall 2024: Amazing Grace - FashionWindows

It was a cold wintry night in New York on February 13, 2024, yet guests were lining up at the Upper East Side’s Park Avenue Christian Church to see the Zang Toi Fall 2024 collection. Far from the maddening crowds of Manhattan’s midtown and downtown where most of the shows were being held, Zang Toi’s choice of venue was puzzling to the upper crust attendees.

Zang Toi Fall 2024 (Photos by Aly Kuler / courtesy of Zang Toi)

“Why is he holding it in a church?” someone asked. “Because tomorrow is Ash Wednesday?” someone answered, which was phrased as a question. But when the guests were finally inside, the puzzlement turned into awe as they admired the gothic architecture vaulted ceiling and Tiffany stained-glass windows. Instead of the expected pews, there were chairs which were arranged like what you expected in a fashion show. And what was normally the church aisle becoming a red catwalk.

Each chair had a red rose, (it’s also the eve of Valentine’s Day after all) and the run of show wherein it was noted that “the gorgeous collection [has been] inspired by Parisienne chic couture with a touch of rebellious edge seen in the fashionable Saint Germain neighborhood of Paris. And with that, the choice of venue made sense. The 113-year-old church was inspired by the 800-year-old La Sainte Chapelle in Paris.

Opening with a short sleeve alligator jacket layered on top of a red silk mousseline blouse with a pussy bow paired with hip hugging shorts in black, Zang Toi set the tone of the collection – youthful, colorful with a touch of impish impudence all wrapped up in an elegant silhouette.

From the charcoal English wool tweed cape to the shocking pink couture silk satin evening trench to the scarlet mini dress with sequin and crystal, you recognize the quintessential Zang Toi woman – graceful and refined. But there is also a layer of mischievousness as expressed in the “hat” wherein a red feather flattened on the hair was the fascinator, which was the de rigueur headdress.

Zang also brought bling back into the runway, courtesy of the hand-encrusted sequins and crystals, which seem to be the dernier cri of the season.

To say that the collection was lovely would be an understatement, even underwhelming. It was formal dressing without being stuffy, it was fun dressing without being explicit. In short, it was pure Zang Toi – glamorously elegant!

After the last model exited the catwalk, when the audience was ready to give Zang a standing ovation, the spotlights were turned off. In the dark, the soulful voice of gospel singer Tamish filled the air. As she sang Amazing Grace, the spotlights were turned on revealing all the staff of the House of Toi wearing black as they pay tribute to Toi See Luon, the maison’s CFO who passed away last year.

“Luon is not only my brother, he is also my best friend,” Zang told me in a private moment.

I have known Toi See Luon for as long as I have known Zang. Soft spoken and very kind, Luon complimented Zang’s creativity with his business acumen. He worked behind the scenes, yet you feel his influence. And in this Fall 2024 runway show, it was hard not seeing him.

As the last lyrics of “Amazing Grace” were sung, the choice of a church being the venue for the show finally made sense. Luon, you are surely missed!

Photos by Aly Kuler / courtesy of Zang Toi