Crazy Rich Fashion

2018's blockbuster hit comedy-drama Crazy Rich Asians, not only received an overwhelmingly positive critical reception, but also managed to be visually dazzling.

When Rachel Chu (Constance Wu), a professor of economics at New York University visits Singapore for the first time with boyfriend Nick Young (Henry Golding), she finds herself rubbing shoulders with Singapore’s wealthiest families. Rachel’s search for an identity in a cultural clash sees a complete overhaul of her image, with her aesthetic taking on a great change. Visuals go a long way to define a character, and fashion is indispensable in this world of the crazy rich, making what the characters wear one of the most exciting parts of the film.

 Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) pictured on the right wearing a Missoni dress.   Image Credit

Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) pictured on the right wearing a Missoni dress.

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Many of the pieces clearly parade the massive wealth possessed by the characters through expensive and over the top outfits. It is a reflection of new money and the ease at which these characters are happy to spend it. The development of Rachel Chu’s outfits throughout the film reflects her climb through the echelons of Singapore’s most wealthy families and social scenes. Once she becomes immersed in the wealth of her boyfriend’s family, her outfits begin to reflect that - adorned with more jewels, a richer colour palette, and more luxurious materials. This overhaul of her identity is most visible when she sifts through different outfits in preparation for her first time heading into Singapore’s high society. Her Missoni dress, worn when she first braves meeting her boyfriend’s family, is a standout, with its glimmering materials and bright tones, evocative of wealthy glamour. She is accompanied by her boyfriend Nick in a white linen suit, a fitting outfit for the 'Asian Bachelor' as quipped by her friend Peik Lein (Awkwafina).

Visuals go a long way to define a character, and fashion is indispensable in this world of the crazy rich, making what the characters wear one of the most exciting parts of the film.

The outfits frequently embody excess, such as those worn by the character of Araminta Lee (Sonoya Mizuno). The gold sequin Carven Ong Couture jumpsuit worn at her bachelorette party is so flashy that it almost pokes fun at the wealthy and their way of articulating status through clothing. Such distinct pieces emphasise the fun of fashion, but that doesn't mean there aren’t serious moments, where many of the characters look truly elegant. The wedding is perhaps the pinnacle of the film's fashion, with the pink and blue hues of Araminta's wedding dress, designed by Mary E. Vogt and crafted by Carven Ong and his team. It should not be forgotten that some of the most important pieces were locally made. Rachel enters the wedding in another standout piece, a stunning Marchesa gown in one of the film’s most glamorous moments. With its ruffles and embroidered flowers, the intricate attention to detail creates a romantic and ethereal look, a testimony to director Jon M. Chu’s source of inspiration, namely Cinderella.

 Araminta Lee (Sonoya Mizuno) wearing a gown designed and crafted by Mary E. Vogt and Carven Ong.   Image credit

Araminta Lee (Sonoya Mizuno) wearing a gown designed and crafted by Mary E. Vogt and Carven Ong.

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Hollywood movies have a striking lack of Asian representation and Asian protagonists. Crazy Rich Asians should be praised for its diversity in casting and production, but also for its commitment to representing local Asian talents such as designers and musicians. Mary E. Vogt worked as the costume designer, choosing to move away from the homogeny of Western names and instead hired the former editor-in-chief of Elle Malaysia, Andrea Wong to assist with womenswear, whilst Malaysian designer Raf Choo worked on menswear. The usual big names are still here, but brands such as Valentino, Elie Saab and Dolce and Gabbana are on the same stage as Asian designers ensuring the cast is authentically dressed whilst giving a platform to local designers and homegrown talents.

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StyleEmily JonesComment