KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 12 — Food once again takes centre stage as the inspiration of the Miss Universe Malaysia’s national costume.
This time, in the form of the colourful delights of Nyonya kueh.
And there were tray loads of them.
Reigning Miss Universe Malaysia Shweta Sekhon will serve up beloved Peranakan teatime treats such as onde-onde, kueh koci, ang ku, kueh talam, kueh lapis, kueh sago and auspicious red eggs neatly stowed in a traditional basket known as bakul sia as part of her national costume.
Named “A Peranakan Indulgence”, the costume was designed by couturier Carven Ong who was inspired by the rich heritage of the Peranakan community and its bridal traditions.
“I wanted to present the delicacies of Penang and Melaka’s Straits Chinese culture,” Ong said.
Known for his couture creations since 1991, Ong’s designs were featured in the 2018 rom-com Crazy Rich Asians.
The national costume features an elaborately woven Malay brocade songket on the bodice and a pair of wings made out of Nyonya batik, commonly seen on the iconic kebaya worn by Peranakan ladies.
Reminiscent of a goldfish’s tail, the outfit’s wings symbolise abundance of wealth and prosperity.
The look is completed by a golden songket cape dotted with red beadings that brings a touch of ceremonial opulence and golden aster flowers for the headgear to represent love, daintiness and femininity.
Asked if he was afraid of backlash, the designer said Shweta has the confidence to pull off the ornate look.
“It’s a great platform to showcase one aspect of Malaysian food to an international audience,” the 51-year-old Taiping native said.
In the past, the public have been quick to criticise the national costumes offerings by various designers that included outfits inspired by the Petronas Twin Towers, nasi lemak and a traditional boat.
Ong took three months to complete the outfit that weighed 28 kilogrammes.
“Of course, it’s heavy, but all the support and love from everyone makes it light.
“I feel so proud to wear this,” Shweta said.
The 22-year-old model from Kuala Lumpur will also be wearing an evening gown designed by Ong.
Inspired by the golden sands of Malaysian beaches, the caramel-hued floor-length number is embellished with real seashells while its corset top shows off Shweta’s hourglass figure.
The 68th Miss Universe competition will take place on December 8 in Atlanta, Georgia in the US.
“December 8 is a very special date because it’s my mum’s birthday.
“I’m so excited, it has motivated me much more to do my best for my mum, she told Malay Mail.
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