The Zang Toi show at Lincoln Center was an exercise in fusion. After the lights dimmed, Cory Stearns – principal dancer at the American Ballet Theater – glided onto the catwalk, performing a simple yet effective series of movements wearing nothing but a pair of black tights. The performance only lasted about 45 seconds, but the effect carried through the rest of Toi’s show, which was filled with both operatic and balletic references.
Toi is designing for Spring 2014, but there was a certain restrained and almost chilly quality to the long, slim coats and empire-waist dresses; it conjured up visions of what May must be like in Moscow. Using pale blues and silvers, with double faced coats lined in iridescent fabrics, his models seemed to float a few inches above the catwalk, their posture no doubt improved by Toi’s impeccable tailoring, as well as their ballerina buns.
Zang Toi’s strongest impressions were made undoubtedly by his choices in evening wear. Black gowns with periwinkle detailing and swaths of pleated tissue-like fabric were greeted with “ahhs” of delight from the crowd. On one side of the audience, the Real Housewives of New York gesticulated excitedly with their hands, imitating the revolutions of the models in gauzy dresses. On the opposite side of the runway, opera legend Anna Netrebko watched the proceedings in silence, but with no less admiration.