On June 1, 2013, haute couture designer Zang Toi was conferred the highest honorary title of Datuk from Malaysia’s King. Zang Toi was knighted in recognition for his contribution and services to Malaysia.
RH: Congratulations on your Fall 2017 Collection! The impeccable designs feature royal blue and is contrasted with black and navy and features “Uber Luxe” winter white! The fabrics include silk and velvet and display exquisite diamonds! How do you decide which of your designs hit the runway and which ones stay in a design sketchbook?
ZT: The collection is very well thought out and well edited. Once a sketch is created it's 100% guaranteed to be on the runway.
RH: How old were you when you realized how much you loved fashion, and what inspired you from your childhood that drew you to pursue fashion design as a career?
ZT: I realized at age 5 that I love beauty and to draw. It wasn't necessarily fashion that was my first love. Beauty always served as an inspiration to me.
RH: You grew up in Malaysia before moving to New York at the age of 18 to study fashion design at Parsons School of Design. You also apprenticed with Mary Jane Marcasiano and RonaldusShamask before branching off and launching your own atelier, House of Toi. Tell us about your journey from design school to starting your own line?
ZT:I actually moved to NY at the age of 20. It was love at first sight with NYC and studying fashion design at Parson's School of Design. Many countless hours of studying + worrying during Parson's School of Design + 15 hour days working at Mary Jane Marcasiano which definitely paid off.
RH: Your collections are always inspired by beauty and sophistication. What is the creative process for designing a whole collection for the runway? What are your current inspirations/muses and why?
ZT: I traveled to great places/hotels around the world for inspiration. No muses are necessary as Beauty always serves as my inspiration.
RH: Your company has shifted from having your designs offered in high-end department stores to now mostly being sold as made to order pieces and trunk shows. Can you tell us how that decision was made and how has this business model affected the company as it grows?
ZT: This is a Business Strategy. Trunk shows and special orders is a business model which is much more lucrative.
RT: You also have collaborated with companies like Zoya (I have some of your nail polish and its gorgeous), Lexus, Epson, and now Papyrus! How do you make sure your own vision and the company’s vision complement each other?
ZT: I worked very closely with my partner to achieve as perfect a vision for both the House of Toi and my passion.
RH: Many celebrities such as Eva Longoria, Fergie, Patti LaBelle, Kelly Preston and Elizabeth Taylor, just to name a few, have been fabulously attired in the House of Toi designs. Do you custom design the beautiful piece that each client wears, or do some of them choose based from your existing collection as seen on the runway?
ZT: Please add Farah Fawcett and Sharon Stone to the above celebrity list. These stars have always chosen from my existing collection as seen on the runway.
RT: Tell us about what you are currently working on and what a typical runway show is like for you, and when the next runway show will be. Your designs are always beyond incredible and we can’t wait to see what you have planned for us in the future!
ZT: Spring 2018 Luxe Life on Lake Garda is our latest collection, the new Zang Toi boutique and discussions with 2 potential licensing partners.
Jr. Editor We Blab Entertainment Magazine
I had the privilege of attending CineMoi Networks’ screening of “The Girls in the Band,” a soulful documentary about the struggles and triumphs of female jazz musicians. “The Girls in the Band,” directed by Judy Chaikin, follows several of the artists and their battle to not only get work as musicians, but to receive recognition and respect for their extraordinary music. The heroines of this film all started at a young age loving the power of music and wanted to play an instrument other than piano or harp, despite being told that girls are “too delicate” to play other kinds of instruments and that women are “inferior musicians.” These powerful women played trumpet, trombone, bass, saxophone, jazz piano, and drums and commanded attention performing, even writing some of the most iconic music of the 30’s and 40’s. They faced racial stigma and sexism as they tried to climb the ladder from playing in school bands to jamming with their idols like Dizzy Gillespie and Woody Herman.
“The International Sweethearts of Rhythm” was unique because they were an all-female band, primarily made up of Black musicians, with one Caucasian and one Chinese member. They were constantly in danger when they traveled in the Jim Crow South. Segregated, not only for being women, but because mixed race groups were illegal. It was a terrifying and frustrating time.
World War II brought changes in the jazz world. The men that had dominated the jazz scene were fighting in Europe and the women were left to keep jazz alive. They had their music playing on international radio and became so popular and loved by the soldiers, they traveled to Europe to play for the troops. In Europe their gender and the color of their skin wasn’t an issue. Their music commanded respect due to their incredible performances and their palpable love for the music they performed. When World War II ended, the troops and the bands came home. As the women got back to the clubs and were scheduled to play, they were fired without notice because the men were back. The glory days were over.
I highly recommend this film to anyone who loves music, cinema or history. This is the story of their rise to success, their incredible talent and their sudden descent into obscurity when the men came home from war and the women were expected to just be housewives and go back to the kitchen.
The film is not only a great work of cinema, but a beautiful portrait and tribute to those who made some of the greatest art in musical history.
You can see this amazing film tonight, November 30th at 9pm ET/PT on CineMoi Network, Channel 236 on Verizon/FiOs and Frontier.
Please join me in saluting the Girls in the Band.
Jr. Editor We Blab Entertainment Magazine
I found myself in Whistler, Canada, amid beautiful mountains and trees, hiking trails and lakes, and playing with my young cousins. We went hiking on the trails in pursuit of cinnamon pinecones, because little girls have held them and smelled the aromatic cinnamon fragrance during cherished holiday seasons, and they could barely contain their excitement searching for their treasures. We waded in the lakes of shining waters where we endeavored to make contact with mythical changelings(tadpoles), magically turned sticks into wands and spoons, acquired amulets that resembled quartz or lava rocks, and swam, on a quest, seeking out mermaids and sea dragons.
I allowed myself to bask in a bit of my own fantasy.I kept one eye open for famous Canadians. I heard that Nathan Fillion was recently seen boating in beautiful British Columbia with Alan Tudyk and Morena Baccarin, and we can only hope for a Firefly reboot! I would love to see Ryan Gosling, and of course Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as they might possibly be celebrating their home country’s 150th birthday in this beautiful province. I love the way Canadians say about (a-boat) and been (be-in), and Ilove eating their incredibly delicious maple cookies. I’ve been working on memorizing Canada’s 10 provinces and I bought a baseball cap embroidered with “Canada 150” under a colorful maple leaf.
When I’m home, “in the States,” I always check my phone for messages concerning work and school and stay connected to friends and fellow filmmakers. Whenever I am in Canada, I am forced to turn off my phone to avoid international data roaming charges. Armed with just my DSLR camera and my imagination, I get to unplug and spend my time with my family. Time for connecting with nature and those I love. There’s so much that’s new to me, and we always explore new territory!
As an actor, my job is to create and live in imaginary circumstances. With my cousins, I was jettisoned back in time to when I was five or six, entering into fantasy with three intelligent, creative and beautiful little girls. We searched for those fantastical cinnamon pinecones,I transformed into a magical unicorn giving a queen a ride back to the castle, and we fanaticized we were characters from Dora the Explorer (I’m the Map, if you were wondering). Joining hands with my darling cousins and forging ahead on great adventures! What a wondrous way to spend precious moments in time. Exploring, playing, and loving.