The Perfect Designer for a Disney Princess: NYFW Reviews of Marchesa and Zang Toi

At NYFW, Marchesa went sexy, showing tulle cocktail dresses and gowns with plunging necklines, many embroidered with crystals and pearls. Zang Toi’s collection was more muted.


Marchesa is a brand of unapologetically over-the-top eveningwear that brings to mind Disney princesses and Hollywood starlets at awards shows. Their confectionary gowns are almost invariably fashioned with layers of tulle, feathery embellishments, 3-D floral finishings, and bows of varying sizes. Indeed, some dresses looked almost identical to frocks from their collection last spring.

But others were decidedly sexed up—and appropriately so for a collection inspired by Aimée Crocker, the misbehaving American heiress, explorer, and seductress who collected lovers in addition to art and jewelry (and no relation to this reporter, as far as she knows, even though she sounds great fun).

Marchesa doesn’t usually go the sexy route, so it was fun to see a number of tulle cocktail dresses and gowns with plunging necklines, many of them embroidered with crystals and pearls (Crocker also loved to shock in lavish dresses that showed off her decolletage). Likewise several see-through gowns and a red cocktail dress worn with fishnet stockings.

The crowd’s oohs and aahs grew louder with every look that came down the runway. Actresses Nina Dobrev, Victoria Justice, and Jennifer Morrison all seemed pleased with the season’s offerings. So too did Zac Posen, who is presenting his collection in Paris this season but sat front row with model Coco Rocha at Marchesa.

After the show, I remembered that another designer whose gowns are often seen on the red carpet told me that sexy is having a moment at awards shows. Evidently, the secret is out. Marchesa featured plenty of skin-showing gowns in their show on Wednesday—and with the Emmy Awards coming up this weekend, that was surely the point.

Zang Toi

There’s nothing particularly buzzy about Zang Toi’s fashion shows, which accounts for the dearth of celebrity guests and a noticeably older audience every year. But there was one special front row guest who will generate plenty of buzz for the designer this year: Ivana Trump, ex-wife of President Donald Trump, who sat next to singer Patti LaBelle in a purple dress and black blazer cinched at the waist, her hair piled high in a bouffant.

An unusually friendly young man seated next to me introduced himself as an event planner for the House of Toi and hails the Malaysian-born designer as the “Tom Ford for women’s fashion in New York”—meaning his luxury clothes are beautifully made and exorbitantly expensive.

I’m told that all of Toi’s clothes are made in New York City, and that the designer counts Saudi royalty and Malaysian princesses among his upper crust clientele.

“He’s been doing this for almost thirty years,” says the friendly event planner, who seems genuinely fond of Toi and his work. Indeed, one can safely assume that fierce fandom brought Ivana Trump to Toi’s show on Wednesday, given that she’s largely avoided the public eye since her ex-husband was elected president.

The collection opened with a series of caftans embroidered with chantilly lace and sleek pantsuits in primarily simple shapes. He stuck to four colors—emerald green, black, robin’s egg blue, and white—throughout the first half of the show, which featured elegant and occasionally sporty daywear.

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With the exception of a short, white slip dress, most of the looks were modest and seemingly made for women over the age of 40. Many of the models wore lace chokers in yet another sign that the accessory is still trendy (the accessory has been featured in a number of other collections this season, including Alice + Olivia).

A white caftan with blue, tracksuit-like stripes down the sides was among the more contemporary-looking pieces in Toi’s collection—something for his younger customers. Beyond that, Toi stuck to looks that will please his loyal fanbase: sleek, semi-boring separates and elegant evening wear with an occasional dash of the excessive.