All Dressed Up Like Crazy Rich Asians

Costume designer for ‘Crazy Rich Asians’, Mary Vogt, tells us what it was really like on set. 
Sunday 23 September 2018
The person behind the glitz and glamour of 'Crazy Rich Asians' – Mary Vogt. Photo: Getty Images

You might not know her name but you’ll definitely recognise her work. American costume designer Mary Vogt has always had a penchant for a good story coupled with even better costumes.

“When I was younger, I always designed clothes for a story,” she tells us. The story we all have our eyes on? The movie Crazy Rich Asians, of course.

Speaking of her time on set, she spoke in glowing terms of the actors and the crew and the camaraderie that was fostered. “It was really fun seeing them all together. It was just seeing this atmosphere which was very family-like. They’d be shooting all day and then they’d go out for dinner afterwards and I’m like, ‘Aren’t you all sick of each other yet?’” she says with a laugh.

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Doesn’t look like it right now, but everyone was friends with everyone else on set. Photo: Warner Bros

What is your favourite source of inspiration? I look at artwork and I go to museums a lot. I look at fashion too. Iris van Herpen is one of my current favourites. Her clothes are really beautiful. There’s also this museum called the World of Wearable Art in New Zealand which is just fabulous. The quality of the clothes is amazing; they’re really art pieces. I also look at modern designers – Alexander McQueen is a big favourite of mine – there’s a McQueen dress in every movie I work on.

What is your current state of mind? I feel pretty good! I’m in Montreal – it’s a fantastic, gorgeous city. It’s nice to work on a project that you know is really good. I’m more relaxed than I normally would be on a movie.

Who has been your biggest role model? When I was a design assistant, I worked with a designer called Bob Ringwood. He was just so amazing – so creative, so nice, so brilliant. He was a great role model because he was just so naturally creative and uninterested in status. He did it for the pure joy of designing. I always admire people who do things that they love.

Who or what would you love to design costumes for? Maybe A Midsummer Night’s Dream or a fairytale come to life. That would be really fun.

When do you get your best creative ideas? At about 4 o’clock in the morning. Suddenly things will come to me, maybe because I’m not thinking about anything. I’m a big believer of letting ideas come to you.

Can you cook and if so, what is your specialty? Yes, I love to cook. I’ll cook anything – I tried making Indian food the other day [Vogt had been in India working on the film Robot] and I couldn’t – there are just so many layers to it! I mostly like making steamed vegetables and fish.

What do you spend the most money on? Probably travel, but food and books too! I don’t spend a lot of money on clothes.

Favourite cocktail? I’m more of a wine person. I like the lighter wines, like a pinot grigio. I like champagne – a really nice cold one is refreshing.

When is it okay to lie? I don’t know that it really is. The worst thing about lying is that you have to remember your lie, so it gets complicated. I don’t ever think it’s okay.

What is your most overused phrase or word? People tell me I roll my eyes a lot, which I’m trying to improve!

What makes you happiest? Creating things – I like watching a movie that I did, that’s really thrilling. You get to watch it and feel a sense of accomplishment.

What is the trait you admire most in a person? I really like people who are honest. It’s getting rarer and rarer, so I really admire people with integrity. It’s really important. I also admire people who don’t follow the crowd.

Related: The Camera-Shy Real Life Crazy Rich Singaporeans