If you watched Crazy Rich Asians and left the theater wishing for an even deeper dive into the everyday lives of the titular characters, Netflix's newest reality show is for you. Bling Empire follows a group of, yes, crazy rich Asian-Americans in L.A., and the result is an eight-episode first season that zigzags between depictions of mind-boggling wealth and much more relatable moments in which the show's subjects question themselves and their place in their community.
Christine Chiu is a perfect embodiment of this juxtaposition: Netflix labeled her the show's "couture queen," but she also spends much of Bling Empire's first episodes facing her fertility struggles head-on and stressing over how they'll affect her relationship with her husband, plastic surgeon Dr. Gabriel Chiu, and his ultra-traditional family. Those surprisingly down-to-earth moments are interspersed between shots of Chiu attending dazzling parties and trying on jaw-dropping works of high fashion, making her one of the most fascinating characters on the show. Here's everything you need to know about Chiu, from her many philanthropic efforts to that time she almost joined another very over-the-top reality show.
She's an extremely active philanthropist and businesswoman.
Chiu, who was born in Taiwan, graduated from Pepperdine University with a degree in international business and initially began working in PR in the beauty industry. Now, she uses her business acumen as a managing partner for her husband's luxury medispa in Beverly Hills, which counts plenty of celebrities and Hollywood bigwigs among its clients.
In a 2016 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Chiu shared that she's figured out how to combine her love of haute couture with her day job: by forecasting plastic surgery trends based on the styles heading down the runway. That year, for example, Chiu reportedly noted that the renewed focus on the shoulders, neck, and décolletage would likely result in increased requests for procedures to hide wrinkles and sun damage in those areas.
Beyond her efforts to expand the Chiu family's plastic surgery empire, Chiu also dedicates much of her time to philanthropy. According to her bio on the website for a scholarship the Chius award each year, she has served on the boards of an impressive number of charitable organizations, including the L.A. County Museum of Art's Costume Council, UNICEF Chinese Children's Initiative, and Step Up Woman's Network. The Chius further support even more organizations, from St. Judes Children's Research Hospital to the L.A. Philharmonic.
On top of all of this, in 2019, Chiu and her husband teamed up with Prince Charles to open the Prince's Foundation Chiu Integrated Health Programme in Cumnock, Scotland, to provide holistic healthcare services to locals.
She almost became a Real Housewife.
Back in 2014, the Daily Mail published photos that appeared to show Chiu shopping and dining with The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills cast member Brandi Glanville in full view of Bravo's camera crew. Reports at the time confirmed that Chiu was "definitely in the running" to join RHOBH as a full-time cast member, and that she had been considered to join the show multiple times before. Alas, it was not to be.
She's basically married to royalty.
In Bling Empire, Chiu notes that if dynasties were still a thing in China, her husband would be the son of the emperor, and their son Gabriel Christian Chiu III—aka Baby G—would be a "little prince." It's true: The older Gabriel is "the 24th direct descendant of the Song Dynasty," Chiu told Town & Country in 2019.
She's a high-fashion fanatic.
Chiu's Instagram feed is an incredible tribute to her love of haute couture. I mean, who doesn't wear Dolce & Gabbana couture and dress their toddler in a tiny Gucci suit on Thanksgiving?
She's also spoken often about her very precise approach to shopping the runways. "The first process of elimination is if it overlaps with any other pieces I'm potentially buying. Then it's the price. If it's an insane price (like a seven-figure range), I consider whether I would rather get three dresses or one spectacular dress," Chiu told Harper's Bazaar in 2019, though she added that she doesn't typically have a budget.
Beyond that, she continued, "I think about how much the material costs, how hard it is to make, the effort that has gone into it. Everyone has their own evaluation." Still, she added, "Sometimes there's no logical reason behind it, you just fall in love and the price doesn't matter."
In her 2016 interview with THR, Chiu admitted that another major consideration comes from whether a designer intends to dress anyone else in a piece she has her eye on. "The first five years of couture for me were about coming to terms with celebrities possibly wearing the same dress that I'm paying a lot of money for," she said at the time. "A few years ago, there was a Chanel dress that I was putting a deposit on, and I saw Jessica Chastain wearing it at an Oscar event and thought, 'I don't want the sloppy seconds.' Not that anyone would call couture sloppy."