British Chinese Socialite Sir David Tang Dies Aged 63

Photo Credit: Raymond Wong MBE

Sir David Tang KBE, businessman, socialite and founder of fashion label Shanghai Tang has died.

The flamboyant billionaire, who turned 63 earlier this month had only notified close friends of his final farewell party recently at the Dorchester, will be talked about for months to come, the man himself will be remembered for his achievements and contributions for a long time.

According to The Times, Sir David Tang had issued an invitation to his friends which read: “As I have been given by my politburo of medical experts just a month or two to last, I thought the best way to go would be to give a party where we can see each other at least one time more, rather than at a memorial service where I shall be dead as a dodo.”

Sir David is every bit as charismatic and even, eccentric as his sounds. He came to the UK when he was 13 without being able to speak a word of English. For someone who has failed his O Level English six times, little did we expect him to pursue Philosophy at King’s College London and Law at Cambridge. He is even a frequent contributor to the weekend Financial Times, affectionately known as the “agony uncle”, whose recent topics include “Why I hate afternoon tea”, and “Are stuffed animals acceptable in the home?” – his love for satire most apparent.

However, among these, Sir David has made a name for himself as the founder of Shanghai Tang, an international household name that specializes in Chinese qipaos and cheongsams, playing to the classic elegance and distinctive characteristics of Shanghai tailoring to suit the taste of the modern audience.  Although the brand has been sold to Richemont in 1998, and very recently, the Italian fashion entrepreneur Alessandro Bastagli, Sir David will be known as the incredible man who was one of the first to give Chinese fashion a global presence. The name of Shanghai Tang itself, pays homage to Shanghai’s iconic landmark, The Bund.

Sir David served as director and advisor to Blackstone, Versace, Tommy Hilfiger, the Savoy Group and British Airways. He is also founder of China Clubs in Hong Kong, Beijing and Singapore, Havana House and Pacific Cigar Company Ltd (the exclusive distributor for all Cuban cigars in Asia Pacific). He found himself engaged in oil exploration in China, law in Hong Kong and gold mining in Africa and Australia.  For his achievements, Sir David was honoured by the French Government as Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 1995 and was promoted from OBE to Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) in 2008. His social circle has been the talk of the town as well. Although the guest list has yet to be announced, we are expecting Queen Elizabeth, members of the British royal family, Nelson Mandela, Stephen Fry, the Beatles, Mick Jagger, Kate Moss among his many, many friends to be invited for this party. British knight, chevalier, Chinese entrepreneur, “the best-connected man in Britain”, Cuban cigar king, socialite, classical pianist, and more, his list of titles along with his achievements are endless.

Sir David also created China Exchange, a dynamic centre at the hear of Chinatown London that aims to serve “as a home for ideas, discussion, and creative expression that stimulate greater understanding of and curiosity about China’s impact on the world”. With a low-ticket price and easy accessibility, many can attend these events or talks featuring high-profile speakers.

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