In a cover story titled “Looking to Yue-Sai”, Yue-Sai talked about forging “one world” through fashion.
Kan at her home in New York (photo by Fadil Berisha)
All her life, Yue-Sai Kan has been bridging the gap between East and West. So, it’s not surprising that even from an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean during a global pandemic, the international fashion icon was able to unite the world in the most beautiful way through a virtual fashion show gala.
Called One World in Beauty, the hour-long event served as a benefit for China Institute and featured some of the big-gest names in music, beauty, fashion and entertainment.
“I called on every one of my contacts to get it done,” notes Kan, co-chair of China Institute and founder/chairwoman of China Beauty Charity Fund. “The coronavirus brought us the opportunity to promote China Institute worldwide. If we can do a virtual gala like this, that means it gives a lot of charities a lot of hope.”
The program kicked off with a melodic rendition of the popular Chinese folk song Jasmine Flower performed by a sextet of world-renowned musicians— jazz saxophonist Kenny G in the U.S., violinist Eldbjørg Hemsing in Norway, pianist Rosey Chan in the United Kingdom, virtuoso cellist Anna Hu in France, singer/songwriter Reewa Rathod in India and concert pianist Lang Lang in China.
Among the celebrities lending their support were Bette Midler, Maggie Q, Joan Chen, Lisa Ling, South Korean singer Rain and designer Christian Louboutin, who personally handpicked a handbag for the event’s online auction. Viewers also heard from honorees like designer Phillip Lim, philanthropist Wendy Yu, actress Lucy Liu and Stephane de La Faverie of beauty brand Estée Lauder; and saw the latest fashions by Chinese designer Xiong Ying of Heaven Gaia.
“Today, the world is changing so fast,” says Kan, as she reflects on the production of One World in Beauty, which was released July 23. “I thought I needed a cameraman, but it turned out I didn’t. I just did Zoom on my computer.
“For years, I wanted to promote China Institute, and this virtual event allowed us to go all over China. So, I cannot say that this is something bad. It is like God gave us lemon, and we make it into delicious lemonade. It’s a very exciting time.”
Born in Guilin, China, and raised in Hong Kong, Kan moved to Hawai‘i at age 16 to attend Brigham Young University-Hawaii where she earned a degree in music. While at BYUH, she entered the Narcissus Festival Queen Pageant and was crowned second princess. It was her first time participating in a beauty pageant, but the experience changed her life and marked the beginning of an illustrious career in fashion and beauty. From the little town of Lā‘ie, she made her way to The Big Apple, fell in love with the city and never left.
“To me, New York is an extraordinary city—the greatest city in the world—because of the things it offers,” explains Kan, who also has homes in Shanghai, Beijing and Hawai‘i. “It’s the fashion center of the world, the financial center of the world, the music center of the world and the cultural center of the world. Every night in New York, you can attend probably 100 things, including even a lecture at YMCA.”