We said it here last year and we say it again this year: Zang Toi is a man. As much as he is a brand, he's a man with die hard fans that are more akin to friends that get giddy with excitement for him at each presentation. So this season, to start things off, as the lights dimmed someone shouted out "HAPPY ANNIVERSARY" and the crowd cheered in celebration of 25 years of House of Toi.
With the first song of "American Woman," it was clear that Toi had left the Orient of yesterseason behind. For the designer "A Privileged Life: The American Dream," meant an opening look of black crocodile rendered as a vest with look after look of the sportswear that at one point really defined the aesthetic of the States on the international fashion scene. Knits and rayon conjured thoughts of Perry Ellis and Ralph Lauren with Toi's flare for embellishment. Sadly, small things like the proportion and length of peacoat sleeves (some came skinny and hit at the elbow, remedied later in the show by keeping the skinny and lengthening it to 3/4 territory or widening the sleeve) seemed stumbling blocks for the designer.
Long-torsoed blazers aside, many were there to see the gowns, and after dimming the lights and bringing them back up, Toi had them march out with panache. Riffing on an oversized floral, the segment hit its strongest point in two silk organza looks both with orchids printed at the foot. Other looks oscillated from interesting -- like when he sent down a dress with two slits up the side to reveal beading on the lining -- to deflated -- the tiers on a black and purple gown seemed to wilt under the heavy hand beading they were dealt with.