Seven things you didn't know about Shanghai Tang and its late founder

David Tang speaking at a press conference in Hong Kong on July 23, 2010. PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE -- Shanghai Tang's founder, prominent Hong Kong businessman, philanthropist and socialite David Tang, died yesterday (Aug 30) of liver cancer at the age of 63. He is survived by his wife and two children.

His death prompted tributes from celebrities and the media. In a piece for The Financial Times, for instance, British comedian and writer Stephen Fry revealed that one of Tang's best kept secrets was that underneath his high society power suit, he was an extremely kind man.

Here are seven other things you might not have known about David Tang and the brand he built.

1. Shanghai Tang began its life in 1994 as a bespoke tailoring service in Hong Kong, combining Chinese and Western design influences. As the brand grew, it elevated traditional Chinese styles to the status of luxury. It also became known for its fine bone chinaware, accessories and fragrances.

2. David Tang was a bon vivant in both Hong Kong and London, rubbing shoulders not just with politicians and businessmen but also with celebrities including Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell and Russell Crowe. Crowe tweeted yesterday (Aug 30): "RIP dear friend Sir David Tang, the privilege was mine. Witty, charming, intellectual, salacious, hilarious, loving and funny as f***".

3. Shanghai Tang sponsored costumes for the 2010 Hollywood film Shanghai, which starred Gong Li, Ken Watanabe, John Cusack and Chow Yun Fat.

4. Tang wrote a weekly "agony uncle" column for The Financial Times in which he dispensed witty advice on how to handle social situations.

5. Shanghai Tang's collections are frequently inspired by locations or ethnic minority tribes in China.

6. In 2008, Tang was made Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE), following in the footsteps of his grandfather, the businessman and philanthropist Tang Shiu Kin. He was also conferred the French honour of Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 1995.

7. Shanghai Tang's brand ambassadors have included Lin Chiling, Nicole Kidman and Chinese model-actor Hu Bing.

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