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Carol Lim and Humberto Leon

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, Prabal Gurung, Phillip Lim, and more attend Apex for Youth’s 26th annual gala

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.” 

Fashion designer 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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