On Wednesday night, fashion’s brightest stars gathered to celebrate Apex for Youth’s 26th annual gala, which focused on one theme: “Changing the Narrative.”
Apex for Youth provides critical education and mentorship programs to underserved Asian and immigrant youth who are from low socioeconomic backgrounds around New York City. In fact, one in four Asians in New York City lives in poverty. “When I learned about this organization and learned some of the statistics … including how high of a percentage of the Asian community lives below the poverty line, it was just shocking to me,” Eva Chen, head of fashion partnerships at Instagram, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “I do think that there’s this perception that Asian-Americans are the model minority. For me, just learning the truth about it really mobilized me to want to help out this organization however I can.”
Phillip Lim has been a partner with Apex for Youth for the last five years and lent his style advice to the evening’s student speaker, Sean Park, who shared details about his emotional path to receiving numerous college acceptances and his decision to pursue a career in politics. “We want the kids to diversify their career paths and really go after their passions,” Apex for Youth Executive Director Michael Lee tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Some kids tell us, ‘ I just want do math and science or accounting because that seems like something stable and something easy.’ We’re not pushing them away from that, but we want to make sure that they know all of their options.”
For the glamorous evening, Chen and Lim were joined by the Olympic ice-dancing
Shibutani siblings; designers Prabal Gurung, Jason Wu, and Dao-Yi Chow of Public School (who is on the Apex board); as well as Humberto Leon and Carol Lim of Kenzo and Opening Ceremony, who were the evening’s honorees for the Inspiration Award. Singer-songwriter Jhené Aiko and John C. Jay, president of global creative at Fast Retailing (the conglomerate that owns Uniqlo, J Brand and Theory), were also honored.
The guests wore beautiful gowns — Chen in a pastel pleated dress from Phillip Lim and Aiko in a gorgeous black-and-purple color-block dress, while Carol Lim opted for a black, shimmery party frock.
The evening raised more than $230,000 for the organization through donations and auctioned items that included a Kenzo handbag, dinner with Eddie Huang, and Radiohead concert tickets.
Above, see all of their glamorous looks — plus a few words of wisdom from the fashion community on how to reach your dreams for success, even if it seems as if the odds are stacked against you.
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Carol Lim and Humberto Leon are the co-creative directors at Kenzo and founders of Opening Ceremony. “Be curious … with everything that you have at your access, such as organizations like Apex; look beyond what you know,” Leon tells Yahoo Lifestyle. Lim adds, “Be persistent. Don’t give up.”
(Photo: BFA/Courtesy of Apex for Youth)
Eva Chen is the head of fashion partnerships at Instagram. Her advice: “It’s really important to ask for help and know that there are people who want to help you. … For every 20 people you ask, one person might write you back. But you just need one person. And I do think once you get your foot in the door, that hustle, that spirit, that energy, and that drive — that’s what you have to have above all else.”
(Photo: BFA/Courtesy of Apex for Youth)
Fashion designer Phillip Lim offers these words of wisdom: “Being a minority myself, being an immigrant myself, people are always asking me ‘How do you find success?’ Here’s how you do it. You turn around and bring people along. Keep going, keep going; it [success] will find you.”
(Photo: BFA/courtesy of Apex for Youth)
Phillip Lim, Eva Chen, Carol Lim, and Humberto Leon in a prom pose on the red carpet at the 26th annual Apex for Youth gala. (Photo: BFA/Courtesy of Apex for Youth)
Singer-songwriter Jhené Aiko, in a purple-and-black color-block dress, was awarded Apex for Youth’s 2018 Inspiration Award. (Photo: BFA/Courtesy of Apex for Youth)
Fashion designer Prabal Gurung looks dapper in a classic black-and-white outfit at the 26th annual Apex for Youth gala. (Photo: BFA/Courtesy of Apex for Youth)
Japanese actress and model Tao Akamoto wore an open-neck baby-blue dress with purple mules as she stood beside Tenzen Wild, founder of
The Last Magazine, at the 26th annual Apex for Youth gala. (Photo: BFA/Courtesy of Apex for Youth)
Olympians Maia and Alex Shibutani turned up to support Apex for Youth. Maia wore a floral, cascading ruffle gown and black coat, while Alex opted for a svelte suit. (Photo: BFA/Courtesy of Apex for Youth)
Dao-Yi Chow, co-founder of fashion label Public School, is on the board of Apex for Youth and was responsible for the presence of many of the fashion guests at the event. (Photo: BFA/Courtesy of Apex for Youth)
Maxwell Osborne attends the 26th annual Apex for Youth Gala in support of his design partner Dao-Yi Chow; the two work together at the fashion label Public School. (Photo: BFA/Courtesy of Apex for Youth)
Joe Zee, former Yahoo Style editor-in-chief, wore an all-black look for the 26th annual Apex for Youth gala. (Photo: BFA/Courtesy of Apex for Youth)
John C. Jay is the president of global creative at Fast Retailing. He wore a statement polka-dot blazer at the 26th annnual Apex for Youth gala, where he was honored with the 2018 Inspiration Award. (Photo: BFA/Courtesy of Apex for Youth)
Michelle Lee, editor in chief of
Allure, wore a bright milllennial-pink dress at the gala. (Photo: BFA/Courtesy of Apex for Youth)
Chef, restaurateur, and creator of
Fresh Off the Boat, attends the gala in a long-sleeved blue smock. (Photo: BFA/Courtesy of Apex for Youth)
Michael Lee, right, executive director of Apex for Youth, is shown with the event’s student speaker, Sean Park. (Photo: BFA/courtesy of Apex for Youth)