David Tang was a fashion mogul who dominated the social scene


David Tang, the flamboyant and outspoken socialite and entrepreneur who founded the Shanghai Tang fashion brand, has expired. He was 63.

The Financial Times newspaper, for which he composed a favorite tongue-in-cheek advice column, reported Mr. Tang’s death in a story on Wednesday. Mr. Tang had fought a long battle with cancer and died Tuesday night in the Royal Marsden Hospital in London with his wife Lucy at his bedside, the paper said.

“David Tang was a remarkable man of many talents whose charm, erudition and humor were ever present,” the article quoted the paper’s editor, Lionel Barber, as saying. “He’ll be sorely missed.”

The Hong Kong-born, British-educated Mr. Tang was a businessman who operated restaurants and clubs and held exclusive distribution rights to Cuban cigars in Asia. Mr. Tang was knighted in 2008 because of his charitable work in both Britain and Hong Kong; an honor his grandfather, businessman and philanthropist Tang Shiu-kin, also obtained.

He was intending to throw a farewell celebration on Sept. 6 in London’s luxury Dorchester hotel after learning he just had a couple of months left, based on Ewan Venters, chief executive of luxury department store Fortnum amp; Mason.

“Personally, I believe that the world is a bit duller for the reduction of David and in this relatively young age,” Mr. Venters said.

Mr. Tang was best known for starting the Shanghai Tang luxury brand in 1994, which pioneered the use of Chinese retro design topics as fashion motifs. He later sold the brand to the Swiss luxury goods company Richemont.

He caused a stir by opening the members-only China Club in 1991 on the top floors of the old Bank of China building in Hong Kong’s financial district, expanding it to Beijing and Singapore. He started the China Tang restaurant at the Dorchester. Mr. Tang enjoyed a reputation as the best-connected man in Hong Kong and London. He mingled with a huge collection of the rich and famous such as the late Diana, Princess of Wales, whom he hosted at the China Club, and supermodel Kate Moss, with whom he was frequently photographed at parties.

Actor Russell Crowe called the businessman “witty, charming, intellectual, salacious” at a tweet on Wednesday, saying: “RIP dear friend Sir David Tang, the privilege was mine{}”

In a 2007 interview with the Associated Press, Mr. Tang was asked how he came to know a lot of prominent folks. “You mean how did they know me,” he shot back with a laugh.

He’s recounted how he sent off to college in Britain at age 13, barely able to speak a word of English. However he ended up graduating with a philosophy degree and cultivated an arch British accent.

This past year, he weighed in with his frank views on Hong Kong politics, lashing to the town’s then-leader Leung Chun-ying over his direction and fretting about the future of his home city under Communist rule.

“There are a lot more things that need fixing, and the majority of them couldn’t be achieved given the standoff between the pan-democrats representing the vast majority of ordinary people, and the institution, so-called, hugging the majority of our somnambulant tycoons, and that elephantine Communist Party in China,” he said in a speech.

Mr. Tang leaves his wife, British-born Lady Lucy Tang, and two children from a former marriage.

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

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