PETALING JAYA - Reigning Miss Universe Malaysia Jane Teoh will surely hope to sail through the pageant in Bangkok next month with her specially designed national costume named Bangau Perahu.
The RM7,000 (S$2,300) three-piece outfit is based on an artistic interpretation of traditional Malay craftsmanship by designer Salleh Hamid.
Salleh, 30, said he spent six months creating the costume based on the boat's crane or sail guard, commonly seen on traditional fishing boats in the east coast.
"I was inspired by the rich Malay cultural history and beliefs, the authenticity in the artistic craft of boat-making in the olden days and the Malay art of awan larat (clouds) usually seen in the carvings," he added.
He said the costume was designed in three colours using ethylene-vinyl acetate foam and hoped people would appreciate it.
"I was nervous due to past criticisms of the costumes in previous contests," he admitted.
However, he persevered and decided to choose the bangau as fishermen believed it could protect them while they worked at sea.
(Last year's Miss Universe Malaysia wore a nasi lemak-inspired national costume, while Miss Universe Malaysia 2016 put on a jumpsuit featuring the Petronas Twin Towers.)
Teoh, who paraded the costume during a preview at Myeg Tower yesterday, said she felt "very good" wearing the costume with a pair of six-inch boots designed by local shoemaker Rhea Tan Yen Yen.
"I am excited and proud to be able to wear these beautiful creations to represent my country," said Teoh, 21.
For the evening gown category, the finance and accounting student-cum-model will wear a silver dress by designers Amar Madfie and Zeed Jameel, whose brand is known as Amaze.
The off-shoulder bodice top with a soft draping and mermaid-cut silhouette showcases rows of hand-sewn embellishment and intricate beadwork.
"The national costume is rich in Malay culture and the evening gown is nothing short of exquisite, thanks to our talented designers," said Teoh, who spent a year preparing for the pageant after being crowned in January.
Miss Universe Malaysia Organisation national director, former beauty queen Datin Elaine Daly, expressed hope that Malaysia would win in the contest.
For the national gift auction segment where contestants bring mementoes from their respective countries to be auctioned off for charity, Teoh will present a three-layer freshwater pearl necklace from Borneo Pearls' classic collection.