The National Costume segment of the Miss Universe pageant has always been something to look forward to. Past years have seen the Petronas Twin Towers and a plate of Nasi Lemak strut the Miss Universe runway, so what’s Malaysia serving up this year at the 68th Miss Universe Competition?
Wonder no more cos reigning Miss Universe Malaysia 2019 Shweta Sekhon has unveiled ‘A Peranakan Indulgence’ National Costume and Evening Gown and they are beautiful!
The vivid National Costume gown showcases Malaysia’s rich cultural influences from the Peranakan (Straits-Born Chinese) community, while the golden caramel Evening Gown was inspired by the sandy beaches of Malaysia.
1. Both are Carven Ong creations
There isn’t anyone in the local fashion industry who doesn’t know Carven Ong. Making his debut in 1991, he founded the Carven Academy of Fashion, Carven Ong Couture and Carven Ong ready-to-wear. Most recently, Carven has gained accolades for his stunning couture pieces including the iconic two-piece waterproof wedding gown and sequin jumpsuit worn by the character Araminta Lee in the hit film, Crazy Rich Asians.
2. The National Costume took three months to make
With such an elaborate and symbolic gown, combining design elements from Malay, Chinese and Peranakan culture, it’s impressive that it only took Carven three months to make!
The main body of the dress is made using songket, a luxurious brocade commonly used in Malay wedding attire, and embroided with elaborate beadwork. The “wings” feature Nyonya batik, a fabric favoured by Peranakan women and commonly worn as sarong, shaped into a goldfish tail shapre, symbolising wealth and prosperity. A golden songket cape, inspired by the traditional wedding costume worn by a Peranakan bride, adds a touch of ceremonial grandeur. On the headgear, gold aster flowers represent love, daintiness and femininity to bring out the wearer’s inner beauty.
Take a closer look:
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3. The National Costume features kuih!
Our favourite part of the costume, the Peranakan theme is further emphasised with the presentation of an assortment of local kuih of both Malay and Peranakan origins, including familiar sweet delicacies like onde-onde, kuih koci, ang ku, kuih talam, kuih lapis, kuih sago and red eggs. These tasty delights surround the costume on traditional bakul siah Nyonya basket, creating a look reminiscent of a lavish Peranakan wedding feast. (Yes, those baskets are part of the costume!)
“They were many challenges in creating the National Costume, from the mini stage to the wings that would enable Shweta to move gracefully and carry them comfortably, to the replica food, as well as the delicate work required for the embroidery patches. Overall I am pleased with the final outcome, and it fills me with great pride to be given the opportunity to create something unique to symbolise the beauty of my country, Malaysia and introduce our multi-cultural heritage to the world.” – Carven Ong
4. The Evening Gown contains real sea shells
The golden caramel hue of the Evening Gown represents the fine grains of sand found on Malaysia’s famously beautiful beaches, but that’s not all: the gown is also embellished with real sea shell beads in a variety of shapes, shades and sizes, all hand sewn onto the dress! Accentuating the gown is a corset and bustier made entirely from exclusive organdie, and completed with a mermaid’s fin silhouette on both sides of the hip.
Take a closer look again here:
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The 68th Miss Universe competition will take place on 9 December 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.