There is nothing subtle about the fashion in Crazy Rich Asians, Jon M. Chu’s highly-anticipated cinematic take on Kevin Kwan’s bestselling book of the same name. In the film, in theaters now, the characters flaunt their distinctive styles, ranging from luxe looks (Araminta’s shimmery gold bachelorette jumpsuit) to eccentric and flashy outfits (Peik Lin’s impressive closet full of colorful goodies).
And the woman behind the film’s fashion, veteran costume designer Mary E. Vogt, says that’s exactly how she intended for it to be. “It’s really about having a good time and having fun, and we tried to make the clothes look like no one overthought them,” she tells The Knot in an exclusive interview. “I just wanted to show everyone having a great time and being spontaneous.”
Vogt, who has a 25-year resume chock-full of memorable films such as Hocus Pocus, the Batman series and currently, Flarsky with Charlize Theron, has a penchant for the theatrical, which fit right in with the aesthetic of Crazy Rich Asians. And while there are an impressively large number of outfits to hone in on, the ones that Vogt points to as the crowning achievement of the film all revolve around Araminta Lee (Sonoya Mizuno) and Colin Khoo (Chris Pang)’s Singapore wedding, dubbed the “Royal Wedding of Asia.”
Araminta’s Wedding Dress
“I started it the first day I started working on the movie and I finished it right when we were going to shoot the wedding scene,” Vogt says of Araminta’s stunning wedding gown, which was dreamed up by couture designer Carven Ong.
“In the original sketch, the dress was very different because the skirt was very wide, but the aisle of the church wasn’t that wide,” Vogt says. “So we had to change the design of the skirt.”
In total, the dreamy look took four months to make with a workroom of 30 women working full-time to do the beading on the gown. It was, Vogt says, the manifestation of an aspiration that Chu had to make the scene “the greatest wedding ever in any movie ever.”
“I was watching YouTube videos of [Sonoya] dancing and I thought, ‘Well, she’s so graceful, she’s so elegant, that you don’t want to cover her up in a big white gigantic wedding dress,’” Vogt says. “You want to see her. And Jon felt the same way. He wanted the dress to be very different. And somehow, between Jon and Nelson [Coates], the production designer, they decided they wanted a river for her to walk down. So then, we had to think of how to make a waterproof dress, which we did.”
The end result was a show-stopping gown comprised of a fitted bodice and a huge tiered skirt with an elaborate train. Vogt says that in designing the wedding look, she and Ong wanted to give the dress a “ballet feeling” that would highlight Mizuno’s long limbs. “We did, like, a sheer jumpsuit that was embroidered and had Swarovski crystals and all kinds of things.”
“It was designed to show off Sonoya, to show off the actress,” she concludes. “Because not many people could wear a dress like that. You have to be really strong to walk through water like that, with a soaking wet dress.”
The Groom and the Groomsmen’s Outfits
The men’s wedding looks were relatively easier to achieve, given that Colin (Pang) and Nick (Henry Golding) both have athletic builds. For them, Vogt says, a classic Dolce and Gabbana tux fit just right. (“Something about the Dolce tux is almost like an athletic fit tuxedo, with a very strong shoulder and a very small waist,” she remarks.)
The one exception was Bernard (Jimmy O. Yang), whose unique look actually came about at the actor’s own suggestion. “We had a Dolce tux for [Yang], and then, on the day of the wedding scene, he showed up and said he wanted to wear his jacket from the other scene,” Vogt says with a laugh. “We were like, ‘What! You’re in the wedding party. You’re not supposed to wear anything different. You’re not the groom.’ And he said, ‘But I think Bernard would wear this.’ And Jon Chu said, ‘You’re right, he would wear that. He would not follow what everyone else is wearing.’”
Rachel’s Wedding Guest-Appropriate Gowns
When Rachel (Constance Wu) first meets Nick’s family, she’s intercepted by her best friend Peik Lin (Awkwafina), who insists on giving her something a little more chic and appropriate for the high-end event. The result was a shimmery striped dress that, in Vogt’s words, “was a good combination of Peik Lin’s aesthetic and the simplicity that looks good on Constance.”
“That was a Missoni dress,” Vogt says. “We had a wonderful shopper in Hong Kong who found it for us… It was also good for the character, because Rachel’s character is a professor in New York, so she wouldn’t wear one of the more outrageous outfits Peik Lin would have. In fact, that was probably the most conservative piece that Peik Lin owned.”
In the film itself, Rachel’s “Cinderella” moment arrives when she pulls up to Araminta and Colin’s wedding in a Bentley. Vogt says Wu, the star of Fresh Off the Boat, also had a hand in imagining what her character would wear as a guest. “Constance actually sent me this picture of a Marchesa dress and it was that dress,” Vogt says of the ethereal, fluttery baby blue gown that Rachel dons at Colin and Araminta’s wedding. “We were thinking it had to be light blue and fairy-tale looking, and that was it. We contacted Marchesa, and they let us borrow it.”
The gown itself originally had “gigantic sleeves,” however, which Vogt tweaked in order to show off Wu’s petite frame. “You want to see the actor, not the dress,” she says. “It was a fine line to get some outrageous clothes that never overpowered the actors. Because it’s about them. It’s not about what they’re wearing. You want to see the face first and the dress next.”
Crazy Rich Asians is now out in theaters nationwide. Watch the video below to watch the cast deduce wedding terminology.
Secure your ideal wedding vision by starting with The Knot’s Style Quiz, here.
—With reporting by Esther Lee.