February 15, 2011 | Short Order

Zang Toi Woos Fate with Lucky Fried Chicken Night

Report, Photos and Illustration by Rina Oh


  Zang Toi’s neighbor Mike Carper feeds him prêt-a-porter chicken.

        Forget about Turbot Souffle and Mosaic of Capon. That’s what fashion darling Zang Toi orders at Daniel on carefree nights. He favors the four-star pseudo Marie Antoinette décor and haute cuisine. But the night before launching the new collection belongs to the classic American bird from Kentucky Fried Chicken on West 34th Street, no less.

        If Zang could play an instrument, he could be the Malaysian Amadeus Mozart, and his muses would serve bottomless Champagne joined by truffles in their flesh sucking corsets with bosoms bulging. His patrons are high fashion socialites of New York and reality-show housewives whose fashion expense accounts average a whopping $300,000 per season.

 Niki Cheng and model Ling Tan.  

        There they were Saturday at 7 p.m. after the last rehearsal, joining the exhausted show room crew: muses, buyers, backers, mannequins, Birkin bags on one arm, spearing chicken parts with the other, in the designer’s near sacred ritual: Zang’s Lucky Chicken Night

        It began in 1991 on the eve of the Mouton-Cadet Young Designers Award finale. Zang, an ambitious and driven designer, could barely afford dining out. His House of Toi consisted of himself, an assistant and the seamstress. He gave the seamstress some cash to fetch dinner. She returned with carryout fried chicken. The next day, he won the competition and it become essential to have fried chicken the night before any fashion show. Now his staff sets up "Zang's Lucky Chicken Night," in a famil-style show room buffer. This year his office boy DyDy picked up 230 pieces of chicken, and tubs of biscuits, corn and cole slaw.


        Vegetarians seem to consider it a night outside of their normal reality. Last year, a supposed vegetarian buyer from an unnamed department store ate half a chicken. Word quickly spread in fashion circuits. Lean-and-long, the models stood quietly in corners, licking teaspoons filled with mashed potatoes, debating over a final drumstick. A crumble or two of red velvet cake was irresistible. No one seemed anxious about zipping up the next day.

        Zang, a fan of home cooking too, is compiling his favorite recipes for a cookbook with an expected release date in 2013. Are you surprised?

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