The Show-Stopping Jewellery Necessary For The Crazy Rich Asians Film
Five years after readers fell in love with heart-throb heir Nick Young, couture-clad fashionista Astrid Leong and a host of other characters in Kevin Kwan’s first novel, Crazy Rich Asians, Warner Bros is bringing the romantic comedy to the big screen on August 22.
With its irresistible mix of star-crossed lovers, family dramas and depictions of ostentatious wealth (think spas on private jets and plastic surgeons for pet fish), it’s no surprise that fans can’t wait to see the story brought to life on film.
Kwan has previously admitted that he combed the pages of Asia’s Tatler titles for inspiration when writing the novel, so regular readers may find some characters reminiscent of the high-society personalities profiled in these pages—or possibly even themselves.
For instance, who was the inspiration behind domineering matriarch Eleanor Young (played in the film by Michelle Yeoh)?
Did a real-life celebrity provide the idea for the character of Kitty Pong, a gold-digging social climber who manages to leave behind her lacklustre career as a soap-opera star and marry into one of Asia’s wealthiest families?
Our lips are sealed, but a quick look through our pages may reveal some answers.
Here's a piece of trivia: author Kevin Kwan approached Hong Kong Tatler 500 lister Michelle Ong, founder of Carnet Jewellery, to feature her bespoke pieces for the characters of Lisa Lu and Michelle Yeoh. Carnet is also mentioned in the book—no doubt with a clientele that may have even inspired some of Kwan's characters. Other jewellery houses like Bvlgari and Chopard loaned jewellery too.
(Related: Behind 'Crazy Rich Asians': 15 Minutes with Kevin Kwan)
As for the book's fashion icon Astrid Leong (played by Gemma Chan), the team looked to Swiss-Emirati jewellery brand Mouawad for her exquisite jewellery collection, including a show-stopping pair of pearl drop, gem-encrusted earrings she acquires on a shopping spree at her jeweller. Thanks to a well-connected unit production manager—who is incidentally, the son of a designer for Mouawad—the Astor Bar at Kuala Lumpur's St. Regis Hotel was transformed into the fictional bespoke boutique, stocked with $2.5 million worth of exotic gems.
We can definitely see a real-life socialite looking to the Dubai and Geneva-based jeweller for their wardrobe. After all, Mouawad (headed up by Jean Nasr and his daughter Jessica in Singapore) is known for breaking Guinness World Records with its extravagant designs, and most recently acquired a rare 51.38 carat Dynasty diamond, the largest and most valuable diamond ever sold by Russian diamond mining company Alrosa—definitely Crazy Rich Asian-worthy.
(Related: 5 Minutes With... Managing Director of Mouawad, Jean Nasr)
Despite its focus on glitz and glamour however, the film has already inspired several weighty think pieces by leading news organisations because it’s the first Hollywood film in more than a decade to feature an all-Asian cast (the most recent, Memoirs of a Geisha, came out in 2005, and before that, 1993's The Joy Luck Club).
A fun-filled rom-com that’s also a step forward for diversity in the film industry? Now that’s a win.
(Related: 4 Singapore Families On Forbes' Asia's Richest Families List 2017)
Crazy Rich Asians opens in Singapore cinemas on August 22.
Additional reporting by Chloe Pek.