A Ceremony for Opening Ceremony

MOCA Honors Humberto Leon and Carol Lim


Legacy honoree Angelica Cheung, second from left, and gala guests   
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The Museum of Chinese in America uses its annual gala to celebrate the achievements of—yes—the Chinese in America, and as Silas Chou, one of the evening's Legacy honorees, announced from the podium, that includes top doctors, bankers, businessmen, and just about every profession you could name. (In a lengthy speech, Chou seemed inclined to hit them all.) But last night's MOCA gala focused in particular on the achievement of Chinese-Americans in fashion, and a quick look around the room made clear that that's been significant. There was Chou, who, as CEO of Novel Holdings Group, helped build the businesses of Tommy Hilfiger then and Michael Kors now. There were his fellow Legacy honorees Humberto Leon and Carol Lim of Opening Ceremony and Kenzo, and there was Angelica Cheung, the editor in chief of Vogue China, who acknowledged cheerfully that while she is technically Chinese, not American, she considers herself an honorary member of the club now. It seemed safe to say that she had the backing of Vera Wang, Derek Lam, Jason Wu, and Vivienne Tam, all on hand. All of the aforementioned are included in Front Row: Chinese American Designers, guest-curated by designer Mary Ping of Slow and Steady Wins the Race, which opens at the museum in April.

Whether to-the-letter Chinese-American or not—as host B.D. Wong cracked, "The invitation says festive Chinese dress optional, and my festive Chinese dress is at the cleaners"—everyone could celebrate the Sino-American achievement, each in their own ways. When Alexa Chung presented Leon and Lim with their award, they reminisced about choosing their Howard Street space in part for its proximity to bargain Chinatown massages. Cheung has made a mission of promoting both Chinese and Chinese-American designs in her magazine and in China at large; she's brought Jason Wu in as a judge on Creative Sky, China's take on Project Runway. "Fashion can be frivolous," admitted the Met's Harold Koda, presenting Cheung with her award. "When you say 'Cultural Revolution,' it means Nicolas Ghesquière being replaced by Alexander Wang." But of course, Balenciaga is big business, and its new steward is Chinese-American. Before the ceremony, Cheung indicated her high hopes for Wang. "I'm aware of all the comments but I want to wait and see. I'm so proud of him."

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