Not that clothes stand much of a chance of imposing their will on the most protective, take-charge member of the Chow family. “Eva always makes you feel like she is in control—like the restaurant or the car or whatever it is you need is being taken care of,” Elbaz says. He also knows the other side to someone who is so fiercely solicitous. He recalls with laughter an incident a few months ago when he asked Asia to model for the Lanvin show in Paris: “I thought I had reserved the most beautiful dress in the collection for Asia to wear, but Eva had different ideas and she made me change it.”
According to the Tao of Mrs. Chow, there’s no point doing your head in over little complications that arise (if you could call trying to coordinate Leonardo DiCaprio and Ed Ruscha’s schedules a small matter). “What’s the point?” Eva asks, redundantly. I put it to her that her existence would appear to be one long war between the sublime and the mundane.
“Well, I’ve always led my life in a creative way,” explains Eva, a former child-protégée painter in her native Korea, which she left at age 17. “When I moved to California, I worked in film; then I became a fashion designer in New York. And I think whatever is inside of us creatively always comes through in whatever we do, whether it’s throwing a gala or a small gathering, making floral arrangements, or running a house this size or even a restaurant. I really think it’s in the heart.”
It certainly would also appear to be in the genes. Asia, who recently moved to New York to study at Columbia University, is as scarily talented, grounded, and socially agile as anyone her age has a right to be. At a dinner not long ago at Mr. Chow’s downtown branch in TriBeCa, the youngest member of the Chow clan, who had recently sat for Julian Schnabel, introduced her new college suitemates to her naturally inquisitive parents. In the middle of the meal, Katie Holmes, who was in the restaurant, dropped by the table to say hello to the Chows. While the starstruck students picked their jaws up off the ground, Asia smiled at the actress, then continued to serve her friends food, as is the Chinese custom.
A budding musician, Asia has performed in front of half the industrial entertainment complex at the family home, sung along with Stevie Wonder at the dinner table, and interned for George Harrison’s son, Dhani, the lead singer of the band Thenewno2. “Dhani calls me his Padawan,” says Asia, referring to the Jedi apprentice in Star Wars. “I’ll take that.”
AT THE IMPROMPTU PARTY chez Chow after the LACMA gala—a late-night get-together ostensibly held for friends of the Chows who were visiting from South Korea—Asia humored her mother and agreed to sing for a room that had grown to include family friends like Hedi Slimane, Cameron Diaz, Sean Penn, and Robert Pattinson, among others.