OK, so I know we've all been inundated with the “Crazy Rich Asians” commentary, but I wanted to share a thoughtful analysis with you guys. As an Asian-American, this film really resonated with me on so many levels (beyond swooning over Henry Golding and style crushing on Gemma Chan). Growing up, there were few, if any, movies where I thought, “wow, she’s beautiful, fabulous and successful, and she looks like me.” It was a lot of Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan action films and Margaret Cho comedies, all off which spoof Asian culture rather than celebrate, or at least accurately reflect it. Even today, we see shows like “Fresh Off the Boat” depicting Asian immigrants, which inaccurately illustrates the culture, and doesn’t holistically represent the values and realities of Asian-American communities.
So, in “Crazy Rich Asians,” to witness Asians portrayed as part of the fabric of our society -- funny, beautiful, human -- was refreshing. Seeing my existence acknowledged and earnestly represented was really poignant for me. And, to see Asians drive the narrative and hold lead roles -- two elements that have not previously existed in American cinema -- was powerful and inspiring. While the film did spotlight wealthy Asians, I appreciated how the film crystalized a lot of misconceptions and thoughtfully represented the values that Asian families, particularly those with resources, instill, like being respectful and humble.
The film also serves to underscore the significant spending power of Asians and their impact on high-end design. In fact, a recent Nielsen report found that in “2017, the group's buying power hit $986 billion, about 6.8 percent of the U.S. total. That number is expected to grow to $1.3 trillion by 2022.” Those stats are just a sliver of their global spending power.
And, of course the fashion wasn’t bad (hello, Giambattista Valli, Dior, Prabal Gurung, Missoni and Marchesa!). Asian influence has a long-history of propelling style and luxury, and their dollars often drive the designs we see coming from pervasive brands like Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Prada, etc. These dominant brands often draw on cultural influences and collaborate with world-renowned designers/architects to create experiential shopping experiences that attract Asian buyers. In this way, we have “crazy rich Asians” to thank for a lot of the colors, patterns, and shapes we see on the runway, and, subsequently in retail spaces, interior design, and eventually, the closet!
Speaking of the closet, I’ve had the privilege of working with incredible Asian clients, including a client who hails from Hong Kong, but moved to LA to attend UCLA (get it, girl!). Her stunning closet and collection of handbags leave little to be desired!
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I sincerely hope this film continues to initiate an important dialogue and help break down barriers, combat stigmas and stereotypes, and encourage inclusion.