‘Crazy Rich Asians’ Costume Designer on Dressing Michelle Yeoh

HBO Max’s new series “One Perfect Shot” is a masterclass in filmmaking. Ava DuVernay hosts and executive produces the series, inspired by the Twitter account of the same name.

Patty Jenkins, Aaron Sorkin, Kasi Lemmons, Jon M. Chu, Malcolm D. Lee and Michael Mann are among the featured filmmakers who share their obstacles, challenges, lessons and triumphs as they talk about that one perfect shot. In the case of Chu, he discusses “Crazy Rich Asians” and the path to making a film that would herald a new moment in storytelling for AAPI representation in Hollywood.

Chu is joined by production designer Nelson Coates and costume designer Mary Vogt. As they recall the epic wedding scene, Vogt tells Chu how she worked with the extras and locals from Singapore to “bring your couture dresses and real diamonds” — and that’s how the team pulled off a $40 million dollar wedding scene on a $35 million film budget.

Below, Vogt breaks down the key looks worn by Michelle Yeoh’s Eleanor Young, including her stunning wedding outfit.

Eleanor meets Rachel Chu

Michelle Yeoh’s regal look as she meets Nick (Henry Golding) and his girlfriend (Constance Wu).
Warner Bros

This is our first real introduction to Nick’s (Henry Golding) mother and family. Eleanor is playing host to the crème de la crème of Singapore. It’s also the first time she gets to meet her son’s girlfriend, Rachel (Constance Wu).

Says Vogt, “Eleanor needed to look really strong, which she does — she would look strong in a bathrobe. This is a very regal dress. It was mostly to intimidate Constance’s character, the girlfriend. To have the mother in this very regal strong color; the cape in the back makes her look like a queen. She’s lording over all the people working in the kitchen in this queenly way. It has this slightly Grecian, queen and goddess look all at the same time. Michelle put it on, and she looked regal — it was from Valentino.

Vogt continued, “It’s a simple clean dress, but it’s very strong. Michelle brought a lot of strength to it. We got this giant emerald pin because Michelle felt like her character would never wear fake jewelry. She would never wear costume jewelry, so that is real emerald. Michelle has lots of friends in the jewelry world. She said, ‘I’ll just call my friend and pick up something.’ We picked up this million-dollar emerald brooch for her to wear in this scene.”

Eleanor to Rachel: “You will never be enough”

Eleanor wears a green top and white pants while climbing a green staircase to follow Rachel.
©Warner Bros/courtesy Everett Collection / Everett Collection

In this scene, Eleanor and a few members of the family gather around the dining room table to make dumplings, a family tradition. As Rachel excuses herself to use the bathroom, Eleanor follows her and confronts her, telling her that as an American, Rachel will never be enough for her or her son.

For this ensemble, Vogt put Yeoh in white pants and a green top. Vogt says, “Michelle is very physical and she works out constantly. When we shot the scene, the whole house was green, and that was something Jon really wanted, that green for her. I was afraid too much green would fade into the background. So, we gave her the white pants. When she played that scene with Constance on the stairs, it was kind of scary because Michelle was so powerful. I thought she was going to knock her down the stairs. It was a slip top from Diane Von Furstenberg, and I think the pants were Dior. She could wear something from JC Penney and make it look like a regal outfit.”

A $40 million dollar wedding

The Asian wedding of the century, it was a display of wealth and decadence as society’s finest gathered under a Gothic-inspired chapel. Coates turned the aisle into water so the bride, Araminta, walks on water. Literally.

For the wedding dress, Vogt says the bride’s dress was made in Malaysia by designer Carven Ong, and over 30 women spent three weeks bedazzling it.

Eleanor was decked in Ellie Saab. “It has a cape,” Vogt says. “Most of her clothes have a regal quality to them because she is the queen of this family. This was gold and light blue. When it came in, it was completely sheer. So, we ran out and luckily we were able to get a nude-colored nightgown that we put underneath the dress. The day of shooting, we put the belt on. Her brooch was this $2 million thing that she had gotten from a friend in Hong Kong, made from white and yellow diamonds.”

Sanja Bucko

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