'Crazy Rich Asians' Lead H&M Artist Heike Merker Chats About the Challenges of Humidity & That Awkwafina Blonde Wig


We’re still riding high on the buzz of the summer hit, Crazy Rich Asians, which was shot mostly in the very warm and humid city of Singapore. Our Editorial Director, Lorna Soonhee Umphrey, recently visited this beautiful, cosmopolitan city and wanted to find what Lead Hair and Make-up Artist Heike Merker’s secrets were in making sure the actors hair and makeup were on point 24/7 while shooting, where she grabbed her inspiration for the characters from, and of course, what products we’d find in her set bag (because we’ll want all of them!). Read on for her Q&A…


I was actually in Singapore two weeks ago and it was very hot and humid. What kind of tricks did you do to keep the makeup looks from melting away? Were there constant touch-ups, like every second, in between scenes? 
HEIKE MERKER: Yes, good question!  It was a lot of work, we did indeed do constant touch-ups, we   hand fans, electric fans and ice-cooling cotton towels for the wrist, neck and ankles [of the actors].

Hair is another topic, keeping a great hairstyle in that humidity is also a lot of work. 


There were so many over-the-top and glamorous looks of the characters. What was the collaboration process like with the Director Jon M. Chu and the writer Kevin Kwan? Where did you grab your inspiration from?
HM: After reading the script and Kevin’s book, I started with my research using fashion book, photo books, internet, all kinds of Asian Journals from all over Asia - collected everything I liked and started prepping moods for all the characters.

When I met Jon [the director] for the first time, we exchanged our ideas. He showed me pictures and ideas; things he liked and showed me the locations and costume looks. Things were growing together as we were working. A collaboration between Jon, the Production Design and the Costume Department were essential for Crazy Rich Asians.


 We all loved Awkwafina’s character, Peik Lin. Let’s talk about that short blonde wig. How did you come up with that look for her? 
HM: Awkwafina and her family were different from everybody in the script. She was the one who could have a different hair colour or a different hairstyle! We were testing different looks and hair-coulors on her.  After seeing the test pictures together it was decided that we loved her with short blond hair. 



Which character was your favorite to work with and create their look for? 
HM: Peik Lin (played by Awkwafina) is one of my favourites, Kitty Pong, Astrid, Eleanor…ohhhh I liked them all so much. It was just wonderful to work on Crazy Rich Asians

What are your top five favorite products that you always have in your set bag for hair and makeup? 
HM: Fudge Skyscraper Hairspray , Aveda brilliant Universal Styling Creme, Kryolan Dermacolor Camouflage Creme,benefit benetint cheek & lip stain, K.D. 151 Spirit Gum, and MaqPro 36 Colour Palette.