PETALING JAYA: The Twin Towers-themed national costume unveiled by Miss Universe Malaysia 2016 Kiran Jassal has stirred a controversy.
While some Malaysians are pouring scorn on the dress, others have defended the design, saying it was creative, citing similar designs worn by other contestants from other countries in the past.
The custom-made jumpsuit designed by Rizman Ruzaini will be donned by Kiran at the final of the beauty pageant on Jan 30 in Manila.
It glitters with more than 100,000 hand-sewn Swarovski crystals.
Since it was presented to the media at a press conference on Thursday, many have taken to social media to voice their opinions.
Some were impressed with its unique and creative design and there were also those who felt the costume was a little “over the top”.
“This is creative yet simple but brave,” said Rozian Saini Gyan on Facebook. She pointed out that Thailand’s costume in 2015, which was inspired by the tuk tuk, won the best national costume at the pageant that year.
Instagram user @billythekidman said the costume was amazing but the wow factor could be enhanced with additional lights. “I think it will look more interesting on stage. Bling bling!”
However, some were concerned about the wearability of the outfit and labelled it as unwieldy. “Poor girl having to cart this uncomfortable structure around. Other contestants should be warned not to stand too close to her,” Betty Lee said.
John Lim said the design did not do justice to the wearer’s beauty.
He said he would rather see the beauty queen wearing a kebaya.
An industry observer said the national costume segment of the Miss Universe pageant traditionally sees over-the-top and unusual designs being paraded on stage.
“Thailand’s tuk tuk design was initially criticised for being garish, but ended up being picked as the best costume.
“Another winner was Miss Indonesia in 2014. The costume that she wore depicted Unesco World Heritage site, the Borobudur Temple, and sported huge wings and shoulder attachments, plus a tall, tiered headdress,” he added.
Costumes worn by Miss Singapore received much flak over the years, including one designed after The Merlion and another after Singapore’s national flower Vanda Miss Joaquim. They were featured in the Miss Universe contest in 2008 and 2013 respectively.
To Faizal Hamid, a senior lecturer in the Fashion Department of the Faculty of Art and Design, Universiti Teknologi Mara, it is not all about winning.
He said people should not get confused between a national costume and mascot.
“Do you want to win, or do you want to highlight our heritage? Sometimes designers tend to get confused. You can be avant-garde, but the soul and identity of tradition should be left intact,” he said.