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Why Didn't The "Crazy Rich Asians" Cast Wear Asian Designers?

It's the first twenty first century summer blockbuster with an all Asian cast; why didn't they take this once in a lifetime chance to put the spotlight on Asian designers?

They called it a jade carpet (though red is actually the most auspicious and celebratory color in most Asian cultures); and both fashion news sites and mainstream news platforms all covered the glittering fashion of the Hollywood premiere at the Graumann’s Chinese Theatre (a most politically incorrect interpretation of Chinese architecture!) of the cinematic version of the send-up novel that captured the world’s imagination. Fashion lovers were waiting with bated breath because just like Sex and the City series, fashion was definitely  a character in the satire / trilogy.  And though there were lots of beautiful dresses on display, sadly, there were no Asian fashion designers.  Wouldn't it have been the most powerful display if an all-Asian cast of a big Hollywood movie all decided to don Asian designers?



There are rumors that a sequel is already in the works, so if that is true, then here’s a wish list of designers who could have (or will?) done justice to the crazy rich characters and the beautiful actors who gave them life.



Michelle Yeoh as Eleanor Young

Some writers commented that Michelle Yeoh has been one of the rare Asian names who has been holding aloft the Asian flag in Hollywood. She chose a spectacular Armani Privé for the CRA premiere which was stunning. But, but, but there would have been dozens of Asian designers who would have really mastered that “dont mess with me” air of an Eleanor Young.  As the regal, and seemingly reserved Eleanor, a sculptural Issey Miyake by Yoshiyuki Miyamae, who is getting rave reviews for breathing fresh new more experimental silhouettes, would have been perfection.  She also would have hit it out of the park with a Guo Pei, who famously made Rihanna’s showstopping yellow cape that became the inspiration for countless memes.  Guo now shows at Paris Fashion Week and her couture creations would truly have elevated the CRA jade carpet.



Constance Wu as Rachel Chu

Wu wrote a manifesto calling CRA a landmark cinematic event.  Though her Ralph and Russo gown did win fashion plaudits, she could have made a stronger statement as first generation Chinese who moves to New York with an edgy Alexander Wang or a feminine but very contemporary Jason Wu.  As an economics professor who suddenly gets thrown into the whirl of Singapore’s social whirl, going with a New York brand but headlined by a thoroughly modern Asian designer would have been totally in sync with her character.



Gemma Chan as Astrid Leong

Hands down, Astrid became every fashion girl’s spirit animal.  In the novel, Astrid has been wearing couture since her teen years and heirloom jewelry since she was a baby, so fashion doesn't  scare her.  Gemma wore a cocktail length Oscar de la Renta with dragon beadwork. Since Astrid has killer vintage pieces, Gemma would have looked absolutely amazing in a vintage Hanae Mori or an antique cheongsam.  Or she could have gone with cult favorite Jane Ng of Phenotypesetter.  Ng already shows in Paris and has her own shop in PMQ, the old police quarters in Central in Hong Kong that has been repurposed as a mixed use haven of fun and trendy hotspots. Gemma’s ethereal beauty has been compared by Kevin Kwan to Audrey Hepburn so she does have the style chops to put the spotlight on an upcoming brand, just as Audrey did with Givenchy.



Fiona Xie as Kitty Pong

In the novel, Kitty Pong is a starlet who ruffles feathers of the Old school mavens, and so Fiona, a popular Singaporean actress, would also have made waves in a giant Michael Cinco or a dreamily romantic Furne One.  Both these Filipinos have dressed real life divas such as Jennifer Lopez and Aishawarya Rai so it would have been a little bit of history repeating itself to have the fictional Kitty wear the designers favored by the world’s favorite larger than life femme fatales.



AWKAFINA as Peik Lin

Awkafina is in not just one but two summer blockbusters.  She stole the show as master pickpocket Constance in Ocean’s 8.  She surprised everyone with her long-sleeved Reem Acra, who is technically Asian as she is Lebanese.  But to go with the novel’s premise of Asians of Chinese descent going global, a great fit would have been Jonathan Liang.  In a recent interview with Vogue Italia, Liang said: “I love strong contrasts and juxtapositions fo two vastly different ideas and concepts.  This translates into merging my love for wild flowers and embroidery (something dainty and precious) with my passion for sportswear and leisurewear.”



Sonoya Mizuno as Araminta Lee

Sonoya is biracial of Japanese and Argentinean descent and as an emerging talent, she is forecast to hit big time; and her character is a fashion addict and so an iconic fashion favorite such as Comme des Garçons mixed with a Uniqlo X Christophe Lemaire or Ines de la Fressange would have nailed that character’s arc.



Henry Golding as Nick Young

The quip is that Nic is “more of a Prince Harry” of Singapore.  So though he was super dapper in his Tom Ford, showing up in an Edmund Ooi would have been fashion heaven.  A Malaysian born designer who is now based in Antwerp, Belgium, he told Vogue Italia: “it is important not to lose our ability to dream and be excited.  It makes life beautiful.”  And isn't Nic Young everyone’s idea of a dream man?



Kevin Kwan

Kevin was the man of the hour. Also in a producer role, he donned a bespoke Etro jacket. Etro is a heritage Italian brand that is known for its riffs on paisley, a pattern based on Indian prints supposedly based on the mango, so there is that East West cross breeding there.  It would have been awesome if he had worn an outfit by Opening Ceremony, the pop culture sensation helmed by Asian Americans Carol Lim and Humberto Leon.  They started out as a cult shop and have since gone on to become mainstream players collaboration with such diverse brands as Vans and Topshop and Maison Margiela; they now helm the newly invigorated Kenzo.  Kevin thought he was just writing a fun little novel, which is now a legit media juggernaut.  He has inked TV deals and just like Opening Ceremony, he is now part of the pop culture conversation.




Lead images from @crazyrichasians