David Tang, Fashion Retailer and Raconteur, Dies at 63

Mr. Tang also dabbled in oil exploration along the Chinese coastline and gold mining in Africa and Australia. He opened high-end restaurants in London and elsewhere. And he was sought out by multinational companies to join their boards, in part because of his connections in an economically expanding China. He became a prominent adviser to companies like Blackstone, Tommy Hilfiger and British Airways.

Mr. Tang said in 2012 that his founding of the Pacific Cigar Company in 1992 had been a formative experience in tapping into East Asia’s increasingly prosperous elite.

Appreciating that cigar lovers tended to be affluent but that cigar smoke was not always so loved by others, he set up clubs where cigars, wine and fine food could be enjoyed far from any crowds. He also obtained the exclusive right to import Cuba’s famous Habanos cigars.

Mr. Tang later sold much of his stake in Pacific Cigar but was still the company’s chairman at his death.

He founded Shanghai Tang in 1994, initially as a Hong Kong emporium to showcase lifestyle, fashion and home products that drew on the glamour of Chinese styles of the 1920s and ’30s and gave them a more contemporary gloss. The first store, catering to tourists, soon became one of a chain: Dozens of outlets opened worldwide, from Bangkok and Singapore to London and New York.

Richemont, the Swiss luxury group and owner of such brands as Chloe, Van Cleef & Arpels and Cartier, took a stake in Shanghai Tang in 1998 and went on to acquire full ownership in 2008.

But despite attempts to position the company as a Chinese luxury brand, Shanghai Tang began to lose popularity in China; its offerings apparently failed to resonate with shoppers there. In July, Richemont announced that it had sold the company to Alessandro Battagli, an Italian businessman, for an undisclosed sum.

Known for mingling with A-listers and royalty, Mr. Tang was reputed to have the best address book in London. An accomplished pianist who could…

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