MISS Universe 2019 Shweta Sekhon’s national costume was certainly one of the talking points at the pageant in the United States.
Now, visitors can get up close and personal with the Peranakan-inspired outfit at Intermark Mall in Kuala Lumpur.
The extraordinary dress titled “Peranakan Indulgence” featuring traditional Nyonya kuih and intricate Nyonya batik patterns on its wings, is on display on the ground floor until Sept 2 as part of the mall’s “Sama Sama Freedom” campaign to mark the country’s 63rd National Day.
“I chose to highlight Peranakan culture on an international stage as past national costumes did not feature this unique community that is an integral part of Malaysia,” said Carven Ong, who designed the attention-grabbing dress which took over three months to complete.
“It was an honour to showcase this unique combination of Chinese and Malay cultures that truly symbolise Malaysia’s unity and interracial harmony to the world,” he said of the outfit worn by Shweta at the Miss Universe finals in Atlanta.
He confessed that he had big plans for the national costume, including having the dress light up with LED lights, mini fireworks or have the wings move up and down, but had to scale back due to the weight of the outfit.
“It was an exciting challenge for me as I had never designed anything so elaborate before, with the added pressure that it would be seen by millions of people worldwide,” said Ong, who also had one of his couture dresses appear in the Hollywood blockbuster Crazy Rich Asians.
Shweta said wearing the national costume was “extremely powerful” despite the weight of the dress, wings and headpiece.
“People joked that I had travelled to Atlanta with three refrigerators as the national costume was huge,” she said, adding that many contestants were impressed with the realistic kuih on her dress as it was the first time they had seen the traditional Malaysian delicacy.
“I was extremely nervous throughout the competition, but thank God I was able to pull myself together,” she said when asked about the disappointment of finding out that she did not win the national costume category as many had initially thought she would.
At Carven Ong Couture’s boutique, which is located in the mall, guests were treated to a mini fashion show featuring Shweta and the 12 Miss Universe Malaysia 2020 finalists wearing pieces from Ong’s latest collection “Feathers in Flight.”
The vibrantly coloured couture pieces were inspired by the brilliant feathers of tropical birds.
The collection featured a range of beautifully detailed couture gowns, jumpsuits, dresses and skirts.
Two of the finalists were extremely excited about the upcoming crowning of this year’s Miss Universe Malaysia despite the competition being streamed live for the first time on a pay-per-view basis.
“As contestants, we should be at our best even though there would be less pressure compared to being in front of a live audience,” said finalist Neha Verma, 22.
The ceremony will be broadcast online to keep everyone safe during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I’m excited as my friends and family will be able to actively participate in the competition,” said another finalist Yong Meei Yeng, 27.
With the new live-streaming format, viewers can vote to crown the next Miss Universe Malaysia as well as the Best in Evening Gown category.
Tickets for the eGala to crown the next Miss Universe Malaysia, which will be held on Sept 5 at 5pm, are available for purchase via www.missuniversemalaysia.com.my
A total of 20% of the proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to Lighthouse Children Welfare Home Association Kuala Lumpur and Selangor.