There was a time where we didn’t really understand the significance of the Miss Universe National Costume and what it was all about. After seeing a few iterations in the past few years — we sort of understand. The National Costume is something that’s paraded at the Miss Universe competition and has to represent the country and its culture as a whole. If you think some of ours are a little left-field, some countries go even further above and beyond.
Now if you remember again, two years ago, Kiran Jassal who was Miss Universe 2016 flaunted the Twin Towers on her shoulders.
This year, we see it take a different turn and hark back to the boat cranes or sail guards on traditional fishermen boats that you see in the East Coast. It was designed by Salleh Hamid and is imbued with the rich cultural history and traditional beliefs of yesteryears; and the whole dress took six months to create.
Salleh himself said, “I was inspired by … the authenticity in the artistic craft of boat- making in the olden days, and the Malay art of awan larat (clouds) usually seen in carvings.”
Salleh applied the bangau (on the right shoulder), okok (on the left shoulder), and caping (on the neck). See for it yourself below:
If you think it’s reminiscent of Wonder Woman you’re not wrong — it features a corset shaped like armour laden with wood carvings in a traditional Malay pattern known as ‘Awan Larat’. The handcrafted 3D element of the front shield resembles the front of the boat while the playful shimmer of the skirt was inspired by the glistening sea water as the boat cuts through the water.
While it seems like a very close interpretation of a boat — as in, it’s very literal — it’s good to note here that that’s the very essence of the costume. It has to be quite literal without being too diluted. Case in point: These Absolutely Crazy Amazing National Costumes From Miss Universe 2017 which involves literal cut-outs of horses, and a building on someone’s head.
We like how it makes Jane look powerful and empowered — and truly represents the heritage of our country. Too often we glaze over the very identity that made us who we are. And that means paying homage to age-old arts and artisans that are unique to Malaysia.
So while you’re here, take a look also at the reveal of the Evening Gown, designed by AMAZÉ Atelier that will be worn at the competition. Right off the bat, you have to know that it’s absolutely gorgeous.
Inspired by the architecture and structural lines of the Seri Wawasan Bridge in Putrajaya, the dress embodies a strong, confident woman — which we can totally see.
Now, if you’re keen to see if our girl Jane Teoh will be crowned the next Miss Universe you need to pop this into your calendar: it will be taking place in Bangkok, Thailand, on Monday, 17 December 2018 at 8am. We know exactly where we’ll be right then — plugged in and watching with anticipation. Go Jane!