In October, I went to a Food & Wine Magazine “New Year’s Eve dinner party” shoot at my designing friend Zang Toi’s house. The other guests were White House executive pastry chef Bill Yosses; models Deborah Fenker and Ling Tan; and the lovely Cecilia who, like me, is neither a model nor a famous chef. Cecilia and I laughed till we cried when we were seated at Zang’s dinner table with our backs to the camera. The charming photographer, Michael Turek, was like Tom Sawyer persuading his friends to whitewash the fence when he invited us to sit down. He made the chairs facing the wall sound so enticing! But Cecilia and I weren’t fooled. Well, the January Food & Wine is out, and here’s the exact picture we expected.
Cecilia has the blonde curls; I’m the one wearing the faux-ny tail.
I had better luck in another photo in which you get a glimpse of my profile. Unfortunately, Cecilia still has her back to the camera. I feel a little guilty. Don’t hate me, Cecilia!
See me on the left, near the pink poofy flowers?
But I’m shamelessly thrilled that my NYC rings got their own close-up as I clutched one of Bill’s rose-petal fruit jellies in my unmanicured fingers.
You must run out and buy the magazine because my broke-down scanner is not doing these gorgeous photos justice. You also need to see the adorable picture of Zang in his kitchen, read the lively profile about him and, if you like to cook, try out his delicious Malaysian recipes. In case you still have doubts about spending the $4.99 for the magazine, I’m sure you’ll be convinced by this wonderful email Zang got from a reader named Charlene:
Dear Mr. Toi, I am not in the habit of contacting designers. I am not a fashionista, nor do I even follow fashion. Until today, I have never heard of you. I am more of a grandmother, foodie, contesting person!
However, I do know and appreciate beauty when I see it, so I wanted to let you know the gown worn by Ling Tan for the New Year’s Eve article in the January issue of Food and Wine Magazine is one of the most exquisite and beautiful gowns I have seen in my 65 years on this earth! You are truly a very talented man. Thank you for such beauty!
I don’t know if you will receive this E-mail, but I had to try to let you know how much I appreciate your gift.
I almost cried when I read that! I left my previous career as a journalist in part because I was tired of delivering bad news to people all the time; I wanted to make people happy. Now, in a case of “the grass is always greener,” I sometimes worry that what I’m doing isn’t meaningful enough. But if any of my designs inspire someone the way Zang’s gown inspired Charlene, I’ll be content.
Here’s Ling wearing the gown in question on the runway during Zang’s September show.
As John Keats wrote, “A thing of beauty is a joy forever”!