We read Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians as soon as we got to grab a copy of it, became nearly obsessed when we heard the news confirming its silver screen adaptation by director Jon M. Chu, and got really hyped when it was announced that Kris Aquino would have a part in what is now dubbed as the rom-com movie of 2018.
In case you haven’t been paying attention (you’d be the only one to do so, by the way), Crazy Rich Asians is about a middle-class-raised New York University professor Rachel Chu (played in the film version by Fresh Off the Boat’s Constance Wu) going with her boyfriend and fellow academic Nicholas “Nick” Young (Henry Golding) on an “adventure” in Singapore—mainly to attend the wedding of his cousin and for Rachel to meet his family. The apparent biggest hurdle would be Nick’s disapproving mother Eleanor Young (Michelle Yeoh), but the craziness of how rich her boyfriend’s family really is—and how he has downplayed and even never previously mentioned this—is also part of Rachel’s cultural awakening as an Asian-American spending her first time in Asia.
We’ve talked about Henry Golding’s wardrobe and budding personal style in a Style Spotlight before, and though it may not be far off from what he wears in the film as the low-profile Nick, it’s a different game for the rest of the cast.
We take a peek into how the film’s wardrobe designer Mary Vogt (who also worked in Batman Returns and Kong: Skull Island) highlighted the division between CRA’s nouveau riche (flashy Gucci and Versace) and the old rich (elegant Valentino and Michael Cinco).
Vogt said in a recent interview that she used colors and different tones to create visual distinction between the New York and Singapore scenes. From Rachel’s NYC neutrals that you could probably spot in a Macy’s or a Gap store, her clothes got more colorful once she landed in Singapore, and especially after she got a little help from her friend Goh Peik Lin (rapper Awkwafina/Nora Lum).
Peik Lin, BTW, is from the noveua riche, as her Stella McCartney animal print piece declares, in contrast to her striped trousers.
Here’s Rachel wearing Missoni—borrowed from Peik Lin’s closet—as she makes what is probably (definitely) not her last commoner faux pas around Nick’s family.
A face-off between an Ellie Saab-clad Eleanor Young and Rachel in Marchesa.
Another key character in the movie is Astrid Teo (Gemma Chan), Nick’s cousin who is famous across Asia; think Fan Bing Bing levels, maybe even more extra. In this shopping scene still, Astrid sports a pink cowl-neck dress and oversized sunglasses from Dior.
Aside from American and European designers, Vogt also tapped Asian talents for the movie. With help from Kwan, she studied each character closely so that an appropriate designer would go with each character to flesh them out fully and authentically. One designer that Vogt used for Rachel is Nepalese-American designer Prabal Gurung.
We’ve all heard about what Kris Aquino wore in her cameo, which is also hailed as the “turning point” of the movie. Princess Intan (Aquino) wore a yellow creation by Michael Cinco, the Samar-hailing and now Dubai-based designer who has dressed the likes of Mariah Carey, Kylie Minogue, and Lady Gaga.
The wedding that Rachel and Nick would be attending in Singapore would be between Araminta Lee (Sonoya Mizuno) and Colin Khoo (Chris Pang), Nick’s best friend. Here, Araminta is wearing a water-resistant gown from Carven Ong.
Ong, a Malaysia-based designer, also did a custom-made gold-sequined jumpsuit for the movie.
As for accessories, Yeoh used her own jewelry in her scenes; she’s a real crazy rich Asian. But of course, Vogt had options made available, and a piece from Michelle Ong, designer for the luxurious jewelry label Carnet, made it to Eleanor’s wedding attire.
For the glamorous Astrid, which early reviews say stole the movie, she is seen almost always carrying a clutch; Neil Felipp, a Filipino designer based in Cebu, can be credited for that. Take a look at this exquisite mermaid minaudiere that Astrid is seen toting in the film.
Vogt took a subtler approach with the men’s wardrobe. A memorable look is Nick’s monotone linen suit from Wardrobe, a Malaysian brand led by Lim Fang Meng. Charlie Wu, Astrid’s ex-fiance, is also spotted in another Malaysian brand, LORD’s Tailor. Singaporean brands Aston Blake and Q Menswear are also represented in the wedding reception scenes.
The fashion in the movie is decadent, as befits the film, but the clothes are just part of the bigger representation that Crazy Rich Asians brings onscreen. There’s more to the story than the silks, the feathers, the luxe gowns, and the million-dollar jewelry; just the fact that a Filipino character is depicted as royalty is enough to make any one of us feel a little taller and prouder. While classism and capitalism are real scourges in society, there hasn’t been any mainstream international movie that features this many Asian, Asian-American, and Eurasian actors for a long-ass while. Plus, it seems like a really cute and fun rom-com. All these reasons are compelling enough for us to line up at the movie house come opening day and give it our support.
If you can’t get enough of the cast’s crazy good wardrobe, see more of the Crazy Rich Asians outfits dissected here.
Crazy Rich Asians opens in Manila cinemas on August 22.