HONG KONG (AFP) – Hong Kong businessman and socialite David Tang, known as the founder of international fashion brand Shanghai Tang, has died at the age of 63, it was announced Wednesday.
“It is with heavy hearts that we say goodbye to our founder Sir David Tang,” Shanghai Tang said in a statement.
Tang had recently invited friends to the Dorchester Hotel in London, where he founded the China Tang restaurant, for a “farewell party” after doctors told him he had a month or two to live, The Times reported earlier in August.
In the invitation, he said 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.”
Born in Hong Kong and educated in Britain from the age of 13, he was the grandson of well-known philanthropist Tang Shiu-kin.
The Cambridge-educated Tang founded the high-end fashion chain Shanghai Tang in 1994, known for its modern designs inspired by the traditional Chinese cheongsam, and later sold it to luxury group Richemont.
He also set up the retro-styled China Clubs in Hong Kong, Beijing and Singapore fashioned after the Chinese city of Shanghai in the 1930s.
Friends from showbiz and the business world paid tribute to him on social media.
“RIP dear friend Sir David Tang, the privilege was mine,” actor Russell Crowe tweeted, describing Tang as “witty, charming, intellectual, salacious, hilarious, loving and funny as fuck.”
“He will be sorely missed as a friend and FT columnist,” tweeted Lionel Barber, editor of Britain’s Financial Times for which Tang wrote a popular “Agony Uncle” column offering advice on property, etiquette “and anything else that may be bothering you.”
Described by media as one of Britain’s best-connected men, Tang was often seen partying with the likes of supermodel Kate Moss and calls Prince Charles a friend.
Aside from his fashion label, Tang was known for his love of cigars. He founded the Pacific Cigar Company and was the sole distributor of all Cuban cigars in the Asia-Pacific.
He is also listed as the honorary consul for Cuba in Hong Kong.
In 2008 he was made a Knight Commander of the British Empire for his charitable services in Britain and to British interests in Hong Kong.
Tang was also outspoken against the Hong Kong government. In a speech last year he called 2014’s Umbrella Movement, where tens of thousands blocked major thoroughfares to call for democracy, the “single most significant political event” in the city since riots in the 1960s.
He also said it was “scandalous” that 15% of Hong Kong’s seven million were living under the poverty line and that the government had been “growing apart” from its residents.
He is survived by a daughter Victoria and son David Tang Jr. from his first marriage and by his wife Lucy.
When asked by the Financial Times in 2010 about how he would like to be remembered, he said: “When I am dead, I hope it may be said: His sins were scarlet, but his books were read.”
Follow Shanghaiist on WeChat