Malaysian designer Zang Toi's newest collection will pay tribute to Paris and is set to debut at New York Fashion Week on Saturday.
Moved by the November 2015 Paris attacks, Toi told NBC News that his Fall 2016 “Courchevel Chic” collection is dedicated to the City of Lights, and the strength of the French people.
“I actually went to Paris 13 days after the Paris attacks,” Toi said. “I thought to myself, ‘We cannot be afraid of the terrorists. We cannot give into them.’ Plus, I think Paris has become a good friend. You cannot abandon a good friend when they are going through a difficult time.”
Toi's support for the city in the attacks’ aftermath laid the foundation for “Courchevel Chic,” which he began sketching between courses at one of his favorite Paris restaurants, Le Grand Véfour, where historic French figures have dined since the late 1800s, including Napoléon Bonaparte and Joséphine de Beauharnais.
“[At] all the regular places I go to, all the people of Paris were so touched, and thanked me for not cancelling my trip,” Toi recalled about his visit during Thanksgiving in the days that followed the attacks.
That touching moment of connection fueled many of the concepts of his new collection. "One of the necklaces is a beautiful, red-beaded necklace. And at the bottom it has a heart shape. That is my love for Paris," he said.
Inspired by his fashion hero Yves Saint Laurent, who was known to present a full range of designs each season, “Courchevel Chic” will showcase tailored suits, polished sportswear, and exquisite gowns. Toi adds that his collection is also influenced by his Christmas trip to the Le Chabichou resort in Courchevel, France — ski slopes made famous when French film icon Brigitte Bardot made it her playground in the 1960s.
Toi is no stranger to capturing his compassion for global calamities in the form of couture. His previous collection, “The Splendor of Santorini,” was inspired by the Greek island getaway that Toi had traveled to as the country went through an economic crisis.
In explaining his new collection, Toi said he wants “Courchevel Chic” to remind people around the world of the importance of unity, regardless of life’s challenges.
“On a weekly basis, on a monthly basis, you read about this news — these terrorists’ attacks on different parts of the world. It’s so heartbreaking,” Toi said. “It [was] so heartbreaking when it happened in Paris. I want the collection to bring a little beauty, a little happiness. So hopefully, with all the things that we’re going through, we can bring a little positive energy to the people around the world.”
He added, “I hope this collection can bring a little comfort to the people of Paris, letting them know that they have a friend in New York."