For the fall 2007 collection he presented at Bryant Park on Friday afternoon, Zang Toi cited French actress Catherine Deneuve as his muse, and her sophisticated presence could be felt both in the clothing and the atmosphere.
After straightening out multiple seating snafus, which caused some well-known members of the fashion industry to storm out in a huff before the show began [Note to Toi: you might want to have a word with your incredibly disorganized PR firm next season about the way in which they handle - or mishandle - such matters], the lights dimmed, a male French voice began crooning from the speakers, and out came a leopard trench coat-wearing seductress, complete with flattened beret and cigarette.
What followed were countless more riffs on the Deneuve oeuvre, including camel trousers under a matching fox-edged cardigan, paisley trousers and coats in classic cuts, tartan plaid minis with va-va-va-voom oomph, kicky "Victoire de la Castellan" cancan frocks, and a suite of beautiful black suits and evening dresses that were sparely elegant in both form and embellishment.
Several of the more mannish pairings recalled Katharine Hepburn or Garbo as much as Deneuve, and though a remix of the Brigitte Bardot/Serge Gainsbourg's "Bonnie and Clyde" played on the sound system, Toi's confident, self-sufficient heroines felt far more gangster than moll.
As a whole, this outing was more restrained than Toi's usual fare and, save for the aforementioned PR mishap and hammy mannequin Anna Von Ravenstein (her model-mother, Pat Cleveland, was in the front row and the teen was clearly vamping for mama's benefit), there was plenty here to love.
Photos © Gg/The Bigger Picture Pictures. For additional, larger images from this show, click here