Posts tagged with "Smithsonian"

Marchesa Donates Crazy Rich Asians Gown

Marchesa Donates Crazy Rich Asians Gown to the Smithsonian at Los Angeles Event

Dress Joins Collections in the National Museum of American History

Marchesa is donating the iconic blue dress that played an integral role in the Warner Bros. Pictures film Crazy Rich Asians to the National Museum of American History. The dress will be presented May 18 during “The Party: A Smithsonian Celebration of Asian Pacific Americans,” a Los Angeles event hosted by the Smithsonian’s Asian Pacific American Center at City Market Social House. “The Party” will celebrate and recognize the many contributions of Asian Pacific Americans to history and culture across industries, including music, film, sports and culinary arts. Tickets are available at Smithsonianapa.org.

This blue gown is part of a pivotal moment in the film’s plot in which Rachel Chu, played by actress Constance Wu, attends a high-profile wedding in defiance of her boyfriend’s disapproving mother Eleanor Young, played by Michelle Yeoh. The gown is a floor-length Grecian-style dress made of light blue tulle with floral applique, a deep V-neck and a cinched waist. The original version of the dress designed by Marchesa for its fall 2016 collection featured long sleeves, but they were temporarily removed by the film’s production for aesthetic purposes. The museum will receive the altered sleeveless version that appeared in the film.

“The film’s use of fashion is not merely decorative or secondary,” said Theodore S. Gonzalves, curator in the Division of Culture and Community Life at the National Museum of American History. “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.”

Crazy Rich Asians is notable for having a mostly East Asian cast, the first Hollywood film to do so since The Joy Luck Club in 1993. The Warner Bros. film grossed $238 million worldwide, making it the highest-grossing romantic comedy in a decade. The Crazy Rich Asians Marchesa gown joins a rich collection of museum artifacts with origins in film and entertainment such as Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers from The Wizard of Oz, Batman’s cowl from Batman and Robin and a handmaid’s costume from The Handmaid’s Tale TV show. The museum’s Archives Center also has a number of other theatrical scripts, video and audiotapes in its Luther Davis Collection.

“Representation of Asian Pacific Americans in film and media is critical to the visibility of a community who has made many contributions to the arts,” said Lisa Sasaki, director of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center. “By collecting the film’s iconic dress, the Smithsonian is better able to present these contributions to the world.”

Marchesa is an American brand specializing in women’s wear based in New York City. Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig established it in 2004.

From its establishment in 1997 as an initiative critical to the mission of the Smithsonian until today, the vision for the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center has been to enrich the American story with the voices of Asian Pacific Americans. Asian Pacific America is the story of a vibrant, diverse and resilient set of communities that have been part of the American experience for more than 200 years. The center believes that people’s understanding of America and America’s standing in the world is richer, more compelling and more powerful when it includes the Asian Pacific American story. “The Party” also marks the launch of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Keystone Initiative, which is designed to rally support for the first permanent Asian Pacific American Gallery within the Smithsonian. The Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center serves as a dynamic national resource for discovering why the Asian Pacific American experience matters every day, everywhere and all of the time.

Through incomparable collections, rigorous research and dynamic public outreach, the National Museum of American History explores the infinite richness and complexity of American history. It helps people understand the past in order to make sense of the present and shape a more informed future. The museum is located on Constitution Avenue N.W., between 12th and 14th streets, and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25). Admission is free. For more information, visit http://americanhistory.si.edu. For Smithsonian information, the public may call (202) 633-1000.

America’s First Food Spy × David Fairchild

In the January/February issue of Smithsonian magazine, Daniel Stone, a writer for National Geographic and author of the new book The Food Explorer, sits down with Smithsonian to tell the forgotten story of the man who gave us kale, America’s first adventurer-botanist and “food spy”, David Fairchild, who traveled the world over a century ago in search of exotic crops.

Here are some highlights:

So who was David Fairchild?

“David Fairchild was an adventurer-botanist, which is a title that has rarely existed in history. He was a man who grew up in Kansas, at a time when the United States was very blank. It was in need of a lot of growth. Economic growth, military growth and culinary growth. And he detected an appetite for all of those types of change, which led him to conduct world-wide adventures at a time when not that many people traveled. He went to places that not that many people went, in search of foods and crops that would enrich farmers and very much delight American eaters.”

What did Fairchild do as a “food spy”?

“His role, sanctioned by the president and the secretary of agriculture, was to find exotic crops and bring them back. Sometimes it was diplomatic. And sometimes he would steal things. He went to Bavaria to acquire better hops. German growers had the world’s best hops and didn’t want anyone to get them, so they hired young men to guard the fields at night. Fairchild befriended these growers. It was covert work, and he didn’t outright steal the hops, but he did eventually acquire them and brought them back to the U.S. That really helped balloon America’s hops-growing industry.”

What effect did his missions have?

If Fairchild hadn’t traveled to expand the American diet, our supermarkets would look a lot different. You certainly wouldn’t have kale, which he picked up in Austria-Hungary, to the extent that you do today. Or food like quinoa from Peru, which was introduced back then, but took off a century later. Anyone who’s eaten an avocado from Central America or citrus from Asia can trace those foods back to his efforts. Those fruits hadn’t permeated American agriculture until Fairchild and the USDA created a system to distribute seeds, cuttings and growing tips. Fairchild went to great lengths, at times risking his life, to find truly novel crops, like dates from Iraq and Egyptian cotton.”

What was Fairchild’s favorite food discovery?

“The mangosteen (unrelated to the mango). He thought that Americans would love it and tried repeatedly to introduce it, but it only grows in tropical climates, and doesn’t grow much fruit, so it never really caught on.”

Read the entire story here.

Story/Photo Credits: Smithsonian