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Constance Wu's 'Crazy Rich Asians' dress heads to Smithsonian museum

Jen Yamato, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

After making Hollywood history last year, Warner Bros.' "Crazy Rich Asians" is headed to the Smithsonian, just in time for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage month.

The blue gown worn by Constance Wu in the film is being donated by Marchesa to the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History in Washington and will be presented on Saturday in Los Angeles at the first annual "The Party: A Smithsonian Celebration of Asian Pacific Americans."

Reached by phone, "Crazy Rich Asians" director Jon M. Chu, who is in prep on his next film, an adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda's stage musical "In The Heights," was speechless over the honor. He described the elation of seeing fans replicate the dress, worn by Wu in one of the film's pivotal scenes.

"It became a Cinderella dress for people," he said. "I remember seeing moms make it for their little girls, I remember seeing women wear it with a sense of pride. It became literally a fairy-tale dress for people. We talked about how this would make her feel and how powerful it would be for her -- and that it's also her choice to wear."

The gown joins a collection of entertainment artifacts including Dorothy's ruby slippers from "The Wizard of Oz" and a handmaid's costume from Hulu's "The Handmaid's Tale."

Adapted from Kevin Kwan's bestseller of the same name, the 2018 romantic comedy told the story of Rachel Chu (Wu, who also stars on the recently renewed "Fresh Off the Boat,"), a professor from New York who travels to Singapore with her boyfriend Nick (Henry Golding) and meets his wealthy relatives.

 

With an ensemble including Michelle Yeoh, Gemma Chan and Awkwafina, "Crazy Rich Asians" marked the first modern-set Hollywood film in 25 years to star an all-Asian cast. It went on to earn two Golden Globe nominations and grossed $238 million worldwide.

Theodore S. Gonzalves, curator in the Division of Culture and Community Life at the National Museum of American History, was instrumental in procuring the piece.

"The film's use of fashion is not merely decorative or secondary," Gonzalves said in a statement. "The cast's clothing plays a crucial role in marking social class among its characters -- from multi-generational moneyed elites of Peranakan (Straits-born Chinese immigrants), to the nouveau riche strivers of Singapore, to working-class Chinese immigrants in the United States and their Asian American model minority progeny."

The dress makes a memorable impression in the film when Rachel makes her grand entrance at a swanky Singaporean wedding in the floor-length Marchesa, a Grecian style tulle number with a floral applique that debuted in the designer's fall 2016 collection.

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