Zang Toi never gave a thought to Americanizing his name, which now appears on the label of one of the hottest new collections in the country. It may read oddly (the last name is pronounced "toy"), but that hasn't hurt him one bit.
New York-based and Malaysia-born, Toi is entering his second year in business after a five-year stint assisting New York designer Mary Jane Marcasiano.
You see his quirky Amerasian style in the way he dresses: Shorts made of gold-threaded songket fabric traditionally used for wedding clothes, apple-green custom-made blazer, black velvet Belgian slippers.
And you see it in his designs. In his fall collection, available at I. Magnin Beverly Hills, colors are as exotic as rare flora, such as chartreuse green tailored tweeds (paired with silver fox), a lacquer red moire mini-opera coat that reverses to a jewel-colored paisley, and a shocking pink trench coat paired with a bright red waist cincher. Prices range from $200 (shorts) to $1,800 (evening coat).
Malaysia, the 29-year-old designer explains, is a multicultural country, composed of native Malay, Indians and Chinese--his own heritage--and he finds inspiration everywhere.
"I got my sense of color from the Indians who are known for wearing shocking pink, orange and red together. They treat shocking pink like navy here in America."