Asian Art Museum Raises $1.5M At Gorgeous Gala

The Dan Haute Couture fashion show

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer

Last week, the Asian Art Museum hosted its annual fundraising gala. The spectacular evening raised over $1.5 million to support the museum’s education programs. Fashion, art, and food were highlighted throughout the night, which began with a cocktail reception at 6:30 p.m.

Mayor London Breed and gala chair Michele Alioto

Photo Credit: Drew AltizerFour hundred elegantly-clad guests gathered in the lobby of the museum for Veuve Clicquot, Cosmopolitans, and anything else that the open bar could make. McCall’s catering passed appetizers—scallion pancakes, miniature shrimp gyoza, and wonton tacos filled with edamame puree—while the crowd mingled amongst floral arrangements, special displays, and the current exhibit, a fashion retrospective called Kimono Refashioned.

Ashdeen’s gown for the auction

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer

Fashion was indeed a theme throughout the event. The museum commissioned seven fashion designers to create unique garments inspired by artworks in the museum’s collection. Ashdeen Lilaowala of Ashdeen, Juun.J, Wang Chen Tsai-Hsia of Shiatzy Chen, Mei Aoyama of Tolight, Victor Tung, Blanc de Chine, and Andrew Gn designed gowns which were auctioned online in the days following the gala. The dresses, along with a stunning collection of event sponsor Bulgari’s jewelry, were on view during the reception. Gn’s orange floral-print caftan with fringe, inspired by a Japanese Karaori Noh robe, was a favorite.

Inside the tent during the gala dinner

Photo Credit: Arthur Kobin for Drew Altizer Photography)

At 8 p.m., the guests paraded from the museum to a tent which was sent up in Fulton Plaza. Although it was a little chilly, the tent was beautifully decorated. Round neon lights, artistically arranged, hung from the ceiling. The walls of the tent were covered in different designs such as oversized psychedelic daisies and shimmering blue waves. Silver bowls, filled with overflowing red and pink blooms, sat at the middle of each table, which were draped in silver cloths. It was a gorgeous setting for a gala meal.

Jay Xu and June Ham

Photo Credit: Arthur Kobin for Drew Altizer Photography)

Jay Xu, the museum’s director, gave a quick welcome speech at the start of dinner. “Fashion is self-expression, it’s identity,” he said. “It’s a language of communication. An artistic one that is. With this year’s Kimono Refashioned and the couture career that we did a few years ago, we’re adding a major new dimension for the artistic programs at the Asian Art Museum. As this season is happening, it’s a key moment of transformation, and this year’s part of something much bigger.” Xu was referring to the $90 million 13,000-square foot museum addition that is currently underway. The new space will completely transform the visitor experience.

Yuan Yuan Tan

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer Photography)

“Whether it’s the art made thousands of years ago, or cutting edge contemporary expression, art is an essential part of who we are, our life,” Xu continued.  “Connecting art to life is what we are doing here. With this expansive facility, we want to make Asian art for all, making Asian art is essential for everyone. No matter who you are, where you come from. That reminds me, of a quote from a very old San Francisco Chronicle article by Charles Murray, I quote: ‘How fortunate to have the Asian art museum in our midst, always ready to remind us how big the world is, and how rich.’ This is what our we are offering: to make the big world come here to San Francisco.”

Evan Williams and Sara Williams

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer

Xu’s sentiments were furthered by gala chair Michele Alioto who thanked the sponsors of the evening and said, “One thing we should know is that the museum is one of the hugest assets of the city, one of the top two assets of the city, I don’t think people realize that. It’s also one of the most fabulous Asian Art museums in the United States. I’m a docent as well as a trustee, so I meet visitors when they come in the door. So many people tell me they came to San Francisco to see San Francisco, but the Asian Art Museum was an important destination. I am so impressed hearing that, and I hear it a lot. So we have a lot to be proud of, and we are very blessed to have this world-class institution right here in our home town.”

The first course was an elegant egg dish

Photo Credit: Arthur Kobin for Drew Altizer Photography

The four-course meal came next: smoked salmon with wasabi custard in a silver egg, an artistic salad with yam puree and pickled lotus, surf and turf grilled beef filet and black cod with a bright yellow curry sauce, and a decadent chocolate trifle. Japanese jazz singer Taeko performed a soulful set during dinner and in between the entree, and dessert guests were treated to a fashion show from Dan Haute Couture, a Chinese designer who created looks specifically for the event.

A look from the Dan Haute Couture fashion show

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer

Afterward, the dinner crowd joined 450 revelers in the museum for a rollicking post-party. Notables in attendance included Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis and Mayor London Breed, plus local luminaries Evan and Sarah Williams, Allison Speer, Yuan Yuan Tan, Akiko Yamazaki, Olivia Hsu Decker, and Kulapat Yantrasast, the architect behind the museum’s exspansion.

Tony Sun and Rosina Sun

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer Photography

Wendy Paskin-Jordan and Frank Jordan

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer Photography

Lisa Goldman, Jamie Chen and Allison Speer

Photo Credit: Arthur Kobin for Drew Altizer Photography

Jerry Yang and Cori Bates

Photo Credit: Arthur Kobin for Drew Altizer Photography

Nanci Nishimura and Joseph Cotchett

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer Photography

Charles Wong and Lillian Qian

Photo Credit: Arthur Kobin for Drew Altizer Photography

Eliza Cash, Tiffany Chang and Goretti Lo Liu

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer Photography

Akiko Yamazaki and Jerry Yang

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer

Nancy Livingston and Fred Levin

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer

Rokelle Sun

Photo Credit: Arthur Kobin for Drew Altizer Photography

Loader