Trump-Kim summit inspires latest Miss Universe S'pore national costume

Trump-Kim summit inspires latest Miss Universe S'pore national costume
PHOTO: The Straits Times

Miss Universe S'pore costume designer happy to play on pageant stereotype

When Miss Universe Singapore (MUS) 2018 Zahra Khanum appears on stage in Bangkok for the Miss Universe parade of national costumes next month, she will be displaying one of the significant events of the year.

In June, Singapore was the location for the historic North Korea-United States summit, the first-ever between the leaders of the two countries, Mr Kim Jong Un and Mr Donald Trump respectively.

That meeting is the inspiration for this year's MUS national costume, which consists of 3m-long white dove wings, a peace symbol incorporated into the bodice and an electric blue skirt emblazoned with a digital print of a handshake - one arm features the North Korean flag and the other, the American flag - over the Singapore skyline.

Designing the MUS national costume for the third year in a row, Mr Moe Kasim, 48, was happy to play on a beauty pageant stereotype - wanting world peace.

Netizens turn Miss Universe Singapore 2018 national costume into hilarious memes

POLITICAL SENSITIVITIES

He told The New Paper: "The toughest part was bringing out the message tastefully through design. I had to consider the political sensitivities and what it all meant to Singapore and to the world community... without (creating) any misinterpretation.

"And as the summit was about making peace, it was only natural to go with the World Peace theme."

Said Miss Khanum, a 24-year-old sociology graduate from the National University of Singapore: "My first impression of the costume was that it looked absolutely angelic and it truly did embody the essence of world peace.

"It had a very serene and calming effect."

Mr Kasim, who is the creative director of Moephosis Concepts, worked with MUS national director Nuraliza Osman on the theme and the costume took three months to make.

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Last year's MUS winner Manuela Bruntraeger sported an LED Supertree costume, while 2016 winner Cheryl Chou's was Peranakan-inspired.

Miss Universe Singapore national costumes through the years

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    When Miss Universe Singapore (MUS) 2018 Zahra Khanum appears on stage in Bangkok for the Miss Universe parade of national costumes next month, she will be displaying one of the significant events of the year - the Trump-Kim summit

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    This year's MUS national costume, which consists of 3m-long white dove wings, a peace symbol incorporated into the bodice and an electric blue skirt emblazoned with a digital print of a handshake - one arm features the North Korean flag and the other, the American flag - over the Singapore skyline.

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    2017: Manuela Bruntraeger lit up the Miss Universe stage and dazzled audiences with 25m of LED lights when she strutted her stuff at the international pageant in Las Vegas

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    he lights wrap around the structure, which fans out via a backpack, and are just one of the architectural elements in the Miss Universe Singapore 2017 winner's two-piece national costume inspired by Gardens By The Bay's Supertrees.

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    2016: A take on the Malay sanggul lintang (traditional bridal headgear), the elaborate headpiece is one of the Peranakan elements in Miss Cheryl Chou's gown for the national costumes segment.

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    2015: Local couturier Frederick Lee (left) designed the ethnic-inspired national costume for Miss Universe Singapore Lisa Marie White who competed on the international Miss Universe stage in Las Vegas on 20 December 2015.

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    Miss Universe Singapore 2014 Rathi Menon wore a gold skin-tight suit which appears to be inspired by the five stars and crescent moon on Singapore's national flag. It was matched with gold thigh-high boots.

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    Miss Singapore Universe 2013 Shi Lim wore a dress designed by Riyan Haffys.

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    The 2011 national costume was designed by famous local designer Hayden Ng, who first dressed Miss Universe Singapore in 1987. It was inspired by the Peranakan wedding gown, called the kuah. The costume was also infused with elements of the other races in Singapore.

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    Miss Singapore Universe 2009 Rachel Kum wore a dark pink silk-satin and chiffon gown as this outfit as the national costume.

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    The 2009 gown which was fashioned after an orchid and designed by fashion student Zhang Xiaoqin, was picked from 10 designs submitted by Raffles Design Institute students.

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    Miss Singapore Universe 2008 Shenise Wong wore a costume covered in white and silver "scales" made of PVC leather and plastic crystals, inspired by the Merlion.

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    Jessica Tan, trying out her gowns for Miss Universe Pageant in Mexico. The gown was designed by Muhd Hafiz Tahir, 18, a student from Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA).

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    It was a red and brown lace design inspired by Singapore's multiracial society.

He said: "This year's costume is different as it does not have any multi-racial, architectural or iconic elements or themes at all.

"Instead, it is based purely on an internationally-watched historic event in Singapore's calendar, which is rather unique."

Miss Nuraliza, 41, added: "It shows Singapore's importance in brokering peace, not only regionally but also globally."

Miss Khanum said: "It definitely represents something we all need, which is to promote a sense of unity and friendship, rather than hatred and anger."

The summit happened just before the weekend of the MUS 2018 auditions, and she remembers that period as one of preparation.

"I read up on world issues every night and took notes. I listened to what important people had to say about these issues, such as my idols (former US First Lady) Michelle Obama and (actress) Priyanka Chopra."

And now, she is putting a similar effort into preparing for the Miss Universe finals in Bangkok, to be held on Dec 17 at Impact Arena.

She said: "I have been going for constant workouts and eating healthy. I have been practising my catwalk and expressions on stage. I have also been keeping up with world news to broaden my knowledge.

"I hope that my efforts do pay off. I am looking forward to doing my best to make Singapore very proud."

NUS graduate crowned Miss Universe Singapore 2018

This article was first published in The New Paper. Permission required for reproduction.

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