Ling Tang-The first super model of Southeast Asia

This past September’s Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at Linclon Center was a familiar epi­sode for Ling Tang, the first super model of Southeast Asia. The turf was different, this time on the newly- constructed grounds of Lincoln Center, but just another walk in the not-so-Bryant Park for Ling. She was controlling the runway in her usual powerful, yet beautiful, grace for the Zang Toi event. Ling Tang no stranger to the runway, having done hundreds of shows in New York, Milan, Paris, and London. I was fortunate to be in attendance that night and got to experience and witness this runway favorite up-close and personal.

Meeting her backstage was both fantastic and pleasing because of her warm and down- to-earth demeanor. Although I could tell she was exhausted, she was quite accommodating with friendly conversation and demeanor. There wasn’t a trace of ‘diva attitude’ in her bones. This was refreshing for a scene that can sometimes bring with it pockets of ar­rogance. Ms. Ling possesses none of that. Other than the compelling sophisticated swagger she possesses and rocks with on the runway, her warm and gentle persona illumi­nates a room in a much more temperate and intimate way.

It’s hard to find any celebrated designer who has not gotten her to walk the runway, done a fashion campaign or endorsed some of their labels or products. Armani, Balenciaga, Chanel, Chloe, Dior, Escada, Ferragamo, Fendi, Gucci, Gaultier, Valentino and Yves Saint Laurent are just some of the gigantic companies she has worked with. A list of celebrated shutterbugs who have captured the renowned Ling have included Steven Meisel, Annie Leibovitz, Peter Lindbergh, Mario Testino, Ellen Von Unwerth, Gilles Bensimon, Patrick Demarchelier, Jean Baptiste-Mondino, Michelangelo di Battista, Matthew Rolston and the fabulous Richard Avedon.

Days later, I was fortunate enough to see Ms. Ling again at the Fashionista’s Closet Sale at BoConcept Chelsea. There she was, without makeup, joyous like a playful child making everyone feel comfortable while being very hospitable. She was making an ap­pearance for the store and was actually selling some of her private items for the Closet Sale that she had collected through her travels. She had also brought along some paintings that a friend of hers had made. She excitedly told me about the items and where they were from and all about her travels.

She had gone to Kuala Lumpur in July with Zang Toi, fashion guru to the stars, for MODA – Malaysian Official Designers Association, a non-profitable organization. It was a celebra­tion of MODA’s 20th Anniversary, a gala held on July 20. Ms. Ling told me the association had invited both her and Zang Toi, who flew with to the big event from New York. After the event, they went to Penang with Zang Toi and his family for holiday. They stayed at the Eastern Hotel and the Oriental Hotel, which Ling excitedly described as “the best hotel in Penang.”

“I was in Kuala Lumpur for seven weeks visiting my parents, then I stopped over in Istanbul for six days. I loved Istanbul. It’s so beautiful. I visited many museums, mosques and palaces, and shopped at the Grand Bazaar. I went to a Turkish Bath, and got washed from a Turkish woman…it was funny!”

It’s a fulfilling, exciting, and fun-filled life indeed; but is it enough for Ling? For now, yes. She does look forward to settling down and starting a family later on, but now she’s just enjoying her career and exploring the world.