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Constance Wu in Crazy Rich Asians.

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Crazy Rich Asians Is in the Running to Be the Fashion Movie of the Summer

Watch out, Ocean’s 8.

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The trailer for Crazy Rich Asians has dropped, and it is very fashion. The movie, about an American woman who visits her boyfriend’s superwealthy family in Singapore, is based on the 2013 novel of the same name. Gucci, Roger Vivier, and Tod’s are just a few of the long list of designers mentioned in the book. And if the trailer is any indication, the film version of the best-selling novel will be just as heavy on style, threatening to unseat Ocean’s 8 as the it-fashion film of the summer.

Ocean’s 8 drops June 8, more than two months ahead of Crazy Rich Asians’ August 17 debut, and it takes place at the Met Gala, giving it a distinct edge as a work that’s equal parts film and fashion. But don’t count out Crazy Rich Asians just yet. It includes fictional fashion legends like Araminta Lee, who once modeled for Alexander McQueen; and Astrid Teo, nicknamed the “Goddess” because of her beauty and unparalleled sense of style.

If you’re a Fresh Off the Boat fan, the movie is also a chance to catch Constance Wu as romantic lead Rachel Chu instead of a suburban mom of three. Gone are the khaki shorts and floral tops she wears as the uptight Jessica Huang on the ABC sitcom; in their place are a red cutout dress, plunging necklines, a tiara, and a tulle dress in the same Nairobi blue that Lupita Nyong’o favors. Catch Chu’s boyfriend, the filthy rich Nick Young (Henry Golding), in an all-ivory suit that would be perfect for Sean “P. Diddy” Combs’s annual white party in the Hamptons. Of course, as the trailer lets us know, Nick’s suit is just asking for a jumpy Rachel to spill red wine all over it. It’s yet another opportunity for Nick to disrobe and the camera to pan to his rippling abs — as it does again and again during the trailer.

But the rest of this ensemble cast provides plenty of fashion fodder too. Catch a bespoke Valentino wedding dress and a gold sequin jumpsuit on Araminta Lee (Sonoya Mizuno), Singaporean finery on Nick’s mom, Eleanor, played by a disapproving Michelle Yeoh (of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon fame), and wacky patterns, including horse-print pajamas, on Rachel’s bestie, Goh Peik Lin, played by Awkwafina. That actress, by the way, is the direct link between Crazy Rich Asians and Ocean’s 8. She stars in both.

Because Nick Young is by turns compared to ABC’s the Bachelor and Prince William, the trailer includes mandatory shots of luxury cars, mansions, and jewels worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. The viewer sees his decadent world through the hopelessly middle-class Rachel. But the film isn’t just a clash of classes; it’s a clash of cultures as well. As a Chinese American, Rachel is clueless about Singaporean customs — she drinks from a bowl intended for hand washing — and her boyfriend’s mother regards her as “an unrefined banana, yellow on the outside, white on the inside.”

The fact that Hollywood greenlit a film that explores such tensions is particularly noteworthy. The book was a best-seller, but author Kevin Kwan said when Hollywood first came calling, there was resistance about the story’s all-Asian (and Asian-American) cast of characters.

“When Crazy Rich Asians came out, there was initial interest from a producer who wanted to change [the heroine] Rachel Chu into a white girl,” Kwan told the Hollywood Reporter in 2015. “I tell that story to book clubs in suburban middle America and they go crazy: ‘Why does Hollywood think we would want to see this movie with white people?’ They don’t need every film to be chock-full of the latest stars.”

Now that the trailer has dropped, revealing a cast that stays true to the book, the Asian-American community has taken to social media to marvel at the characters.

“When is the last time you saw two Asian romantic leads on the poster for a major Hollywood motion picture?” asked Phil Yu, the blogger known as Angry Asian Man, on Twitter.

In recent years, the Asian-American community has grown vocal about whitewashing in Hollywood, questioning why white actresses like Emma Stone, Tilda Swinton, and Scarlett Johansson have played roles originally designed for Asians or Asian Americans. Given how marginalized people of color remain in the film industry, this new movie has a lot riding on it. Just as Black Panther showed that an action film with all black leads could break box office records, Crazy Rich Asians has the potential to show that a love story about an Asian couple can appeal to audiences of all racial backgrounds. All the fashion in the rom-com is just the icing on what could be a groundbreaking movie in American film.


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