'Third time's the charm'

'Third time's the charm'

When the last two Miss Singapore Universe national costumes he created were unveiled, Mr Riyan Haffys faced a barrage of criticism.

One incorporated Chinese, Malay and Indian ethnic elements, and the other was inspired by the Merlion.

Undeterred, the 24-year-old LaSalle College of the Arts fashion design graduate is back with his third creation for the international beauty contest.

"It was hard then. Getting bombarded at a young age, it was a bit emotional for me," said Mr Riyan, who was just 17 when he was approached to design his first costumes in 2007.

"But I took a break and I'm back this year. Third time's the charm."

When asked why they decided to go with Mr Riyan again, Ms Penny Pang from the Miss Singapore Universe organiser Derrol Stepenny Promotions said: "I don't know if he got slammed (back then) for the right reasons.

"I personally feel he is a very talented designer and I've seen his other gowns and they're beautiful.

"I wanted to give him the opportunity to expand his creativity and show us what he's got again."

For this year's design, Mr Riyan went with a sunburst design as a central motif with orchid prints.

"It represents Singapore looking towards the horizon, saying that there's so much more to us, so much more to offer," he said.

For inspiration, he went all over the island to visit different landmarks.

No go

"When I visited the Esplanade, I sketched the spikes and tried to do something with them, but it didn't work out," he said.

He eventually settled on the sunburst design, and had the materials and prints imported from Portugal.

"That is where I get the best materials. For example, the orchids from Portugal are very realistic looking," he said.

The dress took Mr Riyan three months to conceptualise and another month to make.

"It took a bit more time ­- shipping the materials over and shipping them back, because the details were wrong the first time," he said.

His biggest challenge in creating the costume was incorporating the sunburst motif seamlessly into the dress.

He had to get creative, using a long ruler to get that part of the dress to stand the way it did.

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