The first time The Observer met Niki and Shaokao Cheng, it was July, during the opening night of Julio Gaggia’s art show. Mr. Gaggia, the boyfriend of the plastic surgeon Mark Warfel, was preparing his work “Living Art: Chelsea Boy Apartment,” during which he would live for five days as a window display model at the BoConcept furniture store on West 18th Street. He spent the week eating, sleeping, working—and performing other, less-mentionable activities—in a showroom that divided him from gawkers outside with a pane of glass.
While we lounged about on the display furniture, socialite photographer Patrick McMullan brought over a petite woman with short, pixie-cropped hair.
“Niki is one of the few Power Asians in New York society,” he loudly whispered, flourishing Ms. Cheng before us. She smiled shyly and posed for a photograph before excusing herself.
It would be two weeks before we realized that Ms. Cheng and her husband owned the store where we had dropped more than one canapé between the cushions of a $3,000 couch.
In fact, the couple owns all five locations of the Danish furniture store in New York City, and another two in New Jersey. But the stores themselves aren’t the reason Mr. McMullan calls the Chengs “Power Asians.” Rather, it’s the couple’s seemingly innate social instincts, their ability to leverage a fairly cookie-cutter, mid-market design base into a celebrity-filled social whirl. One might say “Only in America,” or (even worse) “Only in New York,” but this wouldn’t exactly cover it. There is a certain type that thrives in Manhattan no matter what they’re selling, no matter where they’re from, no matter how few resources they have upon arriving.
On Monday, Jan. 12, at a black tie "Earth Awards" gala honoring eco-friendly innovations at the Four Seasons restaurant, a crowd of environmentalists, socialites, fashion designers and Malaysian royals (the affair was underwritten by the Malaysian government) munched foie gras and sipped champagne before dinner in the Pool Room.
"I’m a fellow Malaysian, so Read More
On the afternoon of Monday, Feb. 11, for the second time in a little over a month, all the contacts in designer Zang Toi’s e-mail address book received a gay-chat invitation supposedly issued by the 46-year-old rag-trade renegade, a favorite of actresses Sharon Stone and Eva Longoria, who showed his fall 2008 collection at Bryant Read More
Last week, Zang Toi—a New York-based fashion designer beloved by the likes of Ivana Trump, Sharon Stone, Eva Longoria and Patti LaBelle—apparently had his e-mail account breached by a nasty prankster. The Daily News reported the following day that the counterfeit message (which The Daily Transom also received), held an invitation Read More
“I’m going crazy,” said the skirt-wearing designer Zang Toi during an intimate dinner at his Upper East Side pad, fixing his gaze on several dishes in the kitchen sink. “Everything in my apartment—it’s like I use something, I have to put it back; if I use a glass, I clean it and I put it Read More
Kristian Laliberte: New York’s Rachel Zoe?
“I want to be New York’s answer to Rachel Zoe,” said stylist Kristian Laliberte, referring to the Los Angeles–based queen bee of celebrity stylists. Mr. Laliberte, 23, was chewing over his career ambitions, along with a steak frites, after a busy Saturday spent pulling outfits for clients at several Read More