It's been less than a week since Zang Toi caused gasps with his white woven hats and flowing ocean hued gowns at his Spring/Summer 2016 New York Fashion Week show, and he's already getting ready for the next phase.
"Hearing that even after being in this business for 26 years makes me want to work even harder," said Toi, 54, who lives in New York. "I say, 'You should work hard while they still want you.'"
The Malaysian-born fashion powerhouse pictured here is bringing his well received "Splendor of Santorini" collection to town Saturday night.
Saks Fifth Avenue has partnered with the Tampa Museum of Art to host a showing of Toi's work at its 6th annual CITY: Fashion Art Culture. The next day, he'll host a trunk show from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Saks store in Sarasota's The Mall at University Town Center.
The CITY event, for which tickets start at $150, will give patrons a night of music, dancing, hors d'oevres and interaction with a The House of Toi collection, tailored in crisp whites and serene turquoise/blues evocative of Toi's first trip to Santorini, Greece.
"The first thing you notice there is the beautiful white architecture against the backdrop of the blues and greens of the Mediterranean. That gave me the inspiration for the first 10 looks, the clean white suits and separates," Toi said. "I'm glad to find out that it's on trend, but I don't pay too much attention to what other designers are doing."
Following his Sept. 11 show, customers were clamoring to order his expertly rendered woven hats and crystal necklaces right off the runway.
"We'll be selling those on special order," he said. "Two women ordered them immediately saying they had to have the hat."
The designer is happy to be still in demand in a fashion landscape getting fresh infusions of talent every year.
"I think competition is good," Toi said. "It's healthy. It makes you want to work harder. This industry is hard. It's like being an actor in Hollywood. If you want to make it, you have to work extra hard to turn that dream into a reality."
As alum of Parsons School of Design, Toi hasn't been back to talk to students in more than five years but he imparts wisdom when he can on the new faces he meets.
"My advice to aspiring young designers is to never be a afraid to live your own way and have your own vision," he said. "No matter how creative you are, you need to be business-savvy to make it in this industry."
After stopping in Florida, Toi and his team will be taking the line around the country for trunk shows.
"I won't be back in New York for three weeks," he explained.
Don't feel sorry for him just yet. His next collection will be inspired by his upcoming Christmas vacation to the French Alps.