By ISIAH MAGSINO on July 25, 2020 | Vogue
As the sun began to set in the West and rise in the East, a select group made their way to their computers and devices for a glamorous Zoom appointment—the China Institute’s annual Fashion Gala. Per the digital invitation, attendees put on their best rendition of “China-inspired chic” and set one of four Dunhuang art pieces, specially created for the occasion, as their Zoom background.
Aside from bringing together a sophisticated crowd who shares a strong appreciation for the arts, the “One World in Beauty” Gala is meant to raise funds for the institute that works diligently to honor Chinese art and advance a deeper understanding of China in the West. This year, the gala honored Chinese-American designer, Phillip Limwith the Leadership Award; Estee Lauder with the Beauty Award; Investor and Philanthropist, Wendy Yu, for the Millennial Leadership Award; and actress and activist, Lucy Liu, for the Icon award.
The cochair of the institute and host of the night, Yue-Sai Kan, began the night’s festivities from her home in Hawaii. “With the difficult time between the USA and China, I find myself working harder to ensure that the cultural mission of the China Institute, this 95-year-old institute, lives on.”
The night (or morning for some) began with a 40-minute VIP session, where guests had the opportunity to mingle with one another during an intimate virtual cocktail party. In the small breakdown room, longtime friends Wendy Yu, who donned a slashed Alexander Mcqueen jacket, and Jason Wu dazzled over one another and appreciated the silver linings of these unprecedented times. “I’ve connected with my friends more than ever, I think,” said Wu.
Following the enthusiastic banter, guests were then "led" to the main site where the gala performances were broadcasted. In the brief ten-minute waiting period, a virtual replica of the caves of Dunhuang could be accessed and attendees could click on the Dunhuang art pieces exhibited for additional information.
Kenny G, Rosey Chan, and Anna Hu were among the several musicians who opened the ceremony with a performance of “Jasmine Flower,” a three-hundred-year-old Chinese song with lyrics that highlight the purity of love—a sentiment relevant to the gala. Vogue China’s Angelica Cheung, Guo Pei, Grace Chen, and more of Asia’s most esteemed names made appearances to express their gratitude for the China Institute and adoration for the honorees.
“We need to champion creativity to keep us inspired and united as we navigate this new global landscape,” Yu said during her acceptance speech. “Creativity is at the heart of our everyday lives and culture. Let's never stop dreaming and innovating.”
And then came the gala festivities; from the special dance of the "Thousand Hand Bodhisattva" performed by the members of the Chinese People’s Art Troupe of People with Disabilities to the fashion presentation by Chinese Couture designer Xiong Ying.
Though it lasts until the end of July, the gala’s silent auction was the final destination for all attendees. Prizes include a Master Tai Chi class, exclusively made art pieces, lavish private dinners in Shanghai, and more. Earlier, Kan mentioned the amount she hoped the gala would raise and by the end of the event, that goal was surpassed significantly.