Fashion, Beauty, and Fried Chicken – à la Zang Toi and Co.
By Gigi Anders
Spring-Summer NYFW shows are scheduled in September of the previous year, so by the time we get to February’s Fall-Winter ones for the same year, we’ve all but forgotten what happened for this coming spring.
I hate that.
So I’m taking us back to the future, to September 2016, which is technically spring 2017. I’ll show you how these three masters of their respective arts created gorgeous, fresh, timeless beauty, ready for right now.
Zang Toi, whose surname is pronounced “Toy,” is a Malaysian-born, New York City-based designer. The youngest of seven children of the local grocer, Zang was born and raised in the small village Kuala Krai in Kelantan, Malaysia. He landed in New York City when he was 20, to study at The Parsons School of Design. In 1989, he opened his own atelier. U.S Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour featured Zang in the March 1990 issue, making Zang one of the first Asian designers championed by the renowned editor.
Zang was off and running, and hasn’t stopped since.
Gigi Anders: Zang, what moved you in a Parisian-Japonesque direction?
Zang Toi: I visited Giverny Gardens many years ago and the image of cascading wisteria over the famous bridge stuck in my head. I went to Paris this past June to stay at the newly renovated Ritz Hotel and got inspired.
GA: How did you interpret the connection and relationship between France and Japan, in silhouette and fabric choice and color?
ZT: Monet was a huge Japanese art collector and enthusiast.
GA: Who is your woman? This collection was so inclusive in terms of the models themselves as well as the looks, which are eternally chic and beautiful, yet truly wearable and appealing to almost any age.
ZT: I know exactly who I am designing for. My ladies appreciate the finest fabrics and exquisite craftsmanship. They want the best of the best.
GA: How did you come to the decision about the hair? What were you imagining? What did you envision?
ZT: I wanted something very "Parisian chic". I can just imagine her walking down Saint-Germain-des-Prés for a cup of coffee and a cigarette.
GA: The models' faces and skin were extraordinary in their simplicity, which is of course the essence of modernity. And yet, it was non-conformist in that it was a rejection of obvious, tricked-out makeup-makeup-makeup. Please explain how you arrived at this choice, and what it means to you in terms of how it complements both the collection and your idea of where beauty is going.
ZT: Beauty comes in different colors, shapes and forms. But for this "Glorious Giverny Collection," I wanted them to look clean and simple, with a healthy glow.
GA: The nails were neutral but with a little sliver of silver attitude. Please tell us what made you go there.
GA: How did growing up in Malaysia influence your point-of-view and outlook on what is fashion and beauty? How is Asian culture moving us forward in style?
ZT: I grew up in a small village in Malaysia, Kuala Krai, Kelantan, where there was hardly any fashion, per se. But I have been attracted to beautiful things and now I get to create them, and make women feel and look beautiful.
The Hair Stylist
Originally from Fukuoka-shi, Fukuoka, Japan, Eiji Yamane emigrated to New York City in the mid-ʼ80s to study hair styling under the direction of the late stylist-guru John Sahag. Over the course of a decade, Eiji mastered and re-defined Sahag’s brilliant and legendary technique known as the “dry cut.” He believes that the dry cut defines a beautiful hair style. At his eponymous Madison Avenue salon, Eiji ensures that every client feels beautiful when she leaves and is able to maintain her style until the next haircut. Eiji travels back and forth to Japan to educate thousands of aspiring stylists and artists in dry cutting.
Eiji and his team created Zang’s “Perfectly Parisian” hair using Macadamia Professional products, plus a few oversized chignon hair pieces here and there. The style is an elegantly executed double-chignon bun.
Here’s how you can get there:
Evenly distribute Blow Dry Lotion, section hair, and blow dry.
Part hair over the left eye, moving diagonally to the right side of the head, stopping at the crown.
Pull back into a low ponytail at the nape of the neck, pulling tightly to ensure the top of the head is smooth and sleek. Using a curling iron, curl the entire ponytail at once to give slight softness and movement.
Separate ponytail into two sections. Take the left section and curling up, create a large hiding of the curls of the newly defined loose bun. Secure with bobby pins and spray with Lock Strong Hold Hairspray to lock in place.
Repeat step 4 with the right section of the ponytail to create a loose, chic double-chignon.
Using a comb, gently smooth out all hair that is pulled back one last time and apply Whipped Detailing Cream to tame any flyaways.
To complete the look, liberally spray Weightless Moisture Dry Oil Micro Mist for added shine and luster.
The Makeup Artist
Rudy Miles began his fashion career as a print and runway model in Chicago. He made his way to New York City in 1995, developing his makeup expertise at the Aveda Flatiron Experience Center. Before long, Rudy’s cosmetic career took him into commercials, print, and runway work.
Rudy has also beautified and groomed celebs from Kendall Jenner to Matthew McConaughey.
As an editorial makeup artist, licensed skin care therapist, and educator, Rudy is focused on growing the beautybyrudy™ brand.
Gigi Anders: The models' faces and skin were extraordinary in their simplicity, which is of course the essence of modernity. And yet, it was non-conformist in that it was a rejection of obvious, tricked-out makeup-makeup-makeup. Please explain how you arrived at this choice, and what it means to you in terms of how it complements both the collection and your idea of where beauty is going.
RM: Where do I even begin? Every season Zang is very clear about the direction he wants hair and makeup to take in support of the collection. But please understand Zang’s interactive and detailed process:
First the entire team -- hair, makeup, and music -- meets to see the fabrics and sketches for the collection. Here, Zang explains the inspiration in full detail and emotion.
Afterward, in another week or two, the hair and makeup test is scheduled where we design the look on a model. You can imagine how that collaboration happens here, as we fine-tune the details. For spring and summer of 2017, it was down to each eyelash, supplied by Battington Lashes.
The Lucky Chicken Dinner is always the night before the show. It’s a pre-celebration and a show of appreciation for everyone who is involved in creating the collection and producing the show.
[According to Zang Toi, the Lucky Chicken Dinner is “the dinner I have with my team the night before the show. We go over the show and production details. We serve KFC fried chicken, which has become a tradition for the past twenty years.”]
GA: So what was the vision for beauty for spring?
RM: This season Zang was all about the beauty of ... beauty. Zang sees big-picture concepts. Yes, the inspiration for his collection was France and Monet and the Garden and flowers. Yes, we could have incorporated the colors of flowers on the face as he did the lilacs in the collection. Too obvious. This look was, like the flowers in a garden, about the beauty of each model’s natural beauty. The makeup this season was meant to be an accessory. Every season we avoid allowing the makeup make the model a character versus a feeling. In a marketplace where there is almost pressure to be “the look,” so often dominated by social media, true beauty is accessible and what each woman is able to honestly execute.
GA: Which is why it’s so doable on non-models.
RM: Zang loves women and the beauty they possess. For this reason and season, we have done many different looks over the years; bold eyes, bold lips, bright lips, bold brows -- you name it. The idea of using beauty as a restraint to show beauty is simply visionary/Zang. The detail is in the spike random lashes and the nude lip, which changed colors based on what the model was wearing: Sometimes beige and muted, sometimes more pink or mauve. All the makeup products come from our makeup sponsor, UBATI NEW YORK. [The line will be launching soon.] The look for the show is simply accessible. The Zang woman is specific but she’s not binary. She will wear a bold lip, a smoky eye, or clean fresh skin because … she can and because she’s comfortable in it all.
GA: Explain why you massage models’ faces with your fave skincare products before applying any makeup.
RM: I am also an esthetician so skincare prep is essential. I use Avène Thermal Spring Water, Cicalfate Restorative Skin Cream, Soothing Eye Contour Cream, and Cold Cream Lip Cream because they are innocuous and really work on every skin type. I also like to give the models a nice facial massage so the products are absorbed and the circulation adds natural radiance to the skin. Let’s be honest, the models’ skins take a beating during fashion week. They always welcome the added care and treatment.
And with that, we leave you with the stunning results. Enjoy the show.