Who is Taoray Wang, Tiffany Trump’s go-to fashion designer? 49 and Shanghai-based, she looks back on her career so far
After the US president’s daughter wore Wang to her father’s inauguration, the designer was a hot property in New York, but she wouldn’t be drawn on politics as she talked about her career in fashion
More Chinese designers have been showing at New York Fashion Week in recent seasons, joining the many Asian American names in the Big Apple scene.
Last month, Shanghai-based Taoray Wang, whose clients include Wall Street types, Chinese diplomats and business leaders, attracted special attention – this time by association with the Trump name. Not Donald, but Tiffany, who (despite her father’s sharp anti-China comments) wore a white double-breasted Taoray Wang coat to the president’s inauguration. She’s been a fan of Wang’s brand for some time.
With Tiffany and her mother Marla Maples, the president’s second wife, sitting front row at Wang’s show and also wearing the brand, the designer was inundated backstage with questions.
With few designers in China able to grab such global exposure, Wang, 49, will no doubt experience a boost from renewed interest from international and domestic media.
“When I saw that Tiffany wore my clothes to the inauguration, I was so happy and proud. I actually didn’t know until that day, until I watched it live,” she said backstage after the show.
Many brands used their catwalk shows in New York to protest against Trump’s policies and personality, but Wang is not buying into politics.
“I always position myself as a fashion designer,” says the East China Normal University graduate. “I met Tiffany last year, it was a long time before everyone expected her dad to really become president. I’m very much focused on a person’s character and qualities rather than labelling them. I didn’t study politics, I don’t focus on it in my work, I don’t even know how many parties exist in the US.”
Wang is all praise for Trump’s daughter: “She’s such a wonderful young lady, a very hard worker, very warm, very positive and always very generous in giving others encouragement. I was proud and grateful that she chose Taoray Wang.”
On the catwalk, Wang’s collection for autumn-winter 2017 featured fashion that embodies her work: sophisticated cuts, sharp lines and powerful angular pieces. First came the black suiting, strong shouldered jackets and dresses with peekaboo laces and knee-high boots for powerful sensuality. There were plenty of double-breasted coats, plaid suiting (a trend tapped by many this season) and rich velvet – lush fabrics being another signature. Power shoulders, elongated shapes and a cinched waist kept the customer happy.
“I’m always targeting leading women, and also those who are fond of suits,” she says. “It not just to say the masculine suit, but also adding a bit of sex appeal.”
Unlike most Chinese fashion designers with their own label, Taoray Wang has a wealthy backer in Wang Weidong, president of Ribo Fashion Group, where for 12 years she was creative director for its women fashion label Broadcast:Bo. She led the label to mainstream success ,with around 700 new stores opened in China under her tenure.
Despite being China-based, like most of her clients, Wang wants to play a more international game, and shows during New York Fashion Week “because of our brand target of global leading women – New York has the image for openness and a global outlook”.
She doesn’t currently show at the Beijing or Shanghai fashion weeks, but is considering it as China’s fashion clout rises and events there become more relevant to the market.
“I have a younger brand called TaorayTaoray and maybe I’ll show that at Shanghai fashion week,” she says.
“I never really planned anything in my career,” Wang muses. “I just happened to be trained up in Japan, then I moved to England 16 years ago. I settled down there for a while until I moved to Shanghai.”
While living in Japan, she won awards training at Tokyo’s Mode Gakuen. In Britain, she also worked as a fashion designer before returning to China to set up base in Shanghai.
“I’ve been very lucky, since brand China is taking off globally,” says Wang, as more journalists queue behind me to interview her. “The stronger China gets, the more the world will pay attention to Chinese designers.”