Constance Wu’s iconic Crazy Rich Asians dress is to go on display at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.
In the hit 2018 romcom directed by Jon M. Chu, Wu’s character Rachel Chu wears the blue Marchesa gown with tulle skirt and floral appliques when attending a high-profile wedding in defiance of her boyfriend’s disapproving mother Eleanor Young (Michelle Yeoh), with the moment proving to be a pivotal and memorable scene for fans.
Now, Marchesa co-founders Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig have announced that they are donating the ensemble to the prestigious institution as part of an event titled The Party: A Smithsonian Celebration of Asian Pacific Americans.
“It became a Cinderella dress for people,” filmmaker Chu told The Los Angeles Times of the dress. “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 original Grecian-style dress appeared in Marchesa’s fall 2016 collection and featured long sleeves. However, the sleeves had to be removed for the production of Crazy Rich Asians, and the museum will be displaying the altered version. It will be presented alongside Dorothy’s ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz and Batman’s cowl from Batman and Robin.
Theodore S. Gonzalves, curator in the division of culture and community life, added that the dress is an important symbol of representation for Asian Pacific Americans in film and media.
“The film’s use of fashion is not merely decorative or secondary,” he 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 Party: A Smithsonian Celebration of Asian Pacific Americans will take place on 18 May.