After a year of postponement due to the pandemic, the crème de la crème of beauty pageant, the 69th Miss Universe Competition will be held on 16th May 2021, at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida, United States.
And yesterday, 27th April 2021, saw the first-time unveiling of the National Costume and Evening Gown of Miss Universe Malaysia 2020, Francisca Luhong James at Vogue Lounge KL.
Here’s everything you need to know about the costume:
‘Kampungku’ National Costume
Named ‘Kampungku’, the National Costume was designed by Malaysian Couture designer Carven Ong, while the ‘Francisca’ doll headpiece is provided by Wesley Hilton of Borneo Doll.
The 45kg elaborate costume, features two sides together with a kampung house backdrop. The front side in black-and-white; meanwhile the reverse side colourful in golden orange.
It is inspired by the traditional Malay kampung (village) houses occupying the village and rural areas across Peninsular Malaysia.
According to Datin Elaine Daly, Miss Universe Malaysia Organisation National Director, “the traditional Malay kampong house evokes a sense of nostalgia as it serves as a powerful reminder of one’s humble beginnings and family roots since many Malaysians might have had fond memories growing up in a village setting before migrating to the city.”
Together, the whole costume, and headpieces took a total of three months to complete.
The first side: A black-and-white ode to the nostalgia of youth
The kampung house on the first side of the costume is illustrated in black and white, to match Francisca’s batik kaftan dress. The colour symbolises sweet, innocent memory of one’s youth.
Meanwhile, the fabric motif is inspired by Sarawak’s ‘pua’ ceremonial cloth, as well as the Orang Ulu and Malay batik print. The look is completed with a headpiece in the shape of a bicycle, a typical mode of transport for youths back in the olden days.
The reverse side: Colourful, golden tribute to Francisca’s Sarawakian heritage
The ceremony also saw the kampung scene brought to life in colours, as the house is reversed. Matching the scene is Francisca transformed into a different costume, a vibrant, off-shoulder orange gown symbolising evening sunset, and gold ‘kerawang’ wooden beading to reflect Francisca’s unique Sarawakian heritage.
The look is paired together with a whimsical-looking Borneo headpiece, featuring a ‘Francisca’ doll with an identical gown and a crown to denote queenly beauty, surrounded by the national flower, ‘Bunga Raya’ made of intricately woven ‘mengkuang’ to symbolise her beloved country, Malaysia.
Evening Gown: Honouring Sarawak’s Princess Sejinjang
Designed by renowned designer Rizman Ruzaini, the ombre turquoise evening gown was inspired by the legend of Princess Sejinjang, a famous Sarawak folklore. Sarawak, the land of hornbills is also the birthplace of Francisca, who is Kayan, Kenyah and Iban.
“The silver gemstones lend a luxurious and elegant feel to the creation, sparkling brightly as they catch the light just like the grains of sand on the ocean floor. The hourglass silhouette and high slit on the front allow Francisca to radiate confidence as a strong and beautiful front-runner when she walks on stage,” said Datin Elaine Daly.
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