Where's the wow factor?

Where's the wow factor?

SINGAPORE - Undeterred by two creations in previous years that drew much flak, fashion designer Riyan Haffys has unveiled his third national costume for Miss Universe Singapore.

Ms Shi Lim, 25, this year's title winner, will don a shimmery green mermaid dress, complete with faux orchids and a big yellow fan, at the 62nd Miss Universe pageant in Moscow on Nov 9.

Mr Riyan, 23, decided to use orchids and an eye-catching yellow decoration reminiscent of sun rays. "The sun rays represent how Singapore has grown from its humble beginnings to a vibrant city."

His costumes for Miss Universe Singapore in 2007 and 2008 were largely panned. The first was a red and brown lace design inspired by Singapore's multiracial society. The second referenced the Merlion and was covered in white and silver "scales" made of PVC leather and plastic crystals.

"Although I thought my past designs were gorgeous, people said they were disasters," says Mr Riyan, who studied fashion design in Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts and Lasalle College of the Arts but did not complete his studies.

"The first was even compared to a getai costume. The criticisms hit me badly. This year, I wanted to come back and rewrite the past."

But some have compared the embellishments on the dress to a bird's plumage while others find the design too safe.

Mr Kenny Lim, 36, director and designer of home-grown fashion label Depression, says: "My first impression was, why does the national costume resemble a peacock? There are too many colours going on."

But Ms Jo Soh, 37, who runs local womenswear label Hansel, says it has its merits. "The strongest element is the sweetheart- neckline bodice, covered in orchid flowers... But the skirt and 'sunburst' need more embellishment to bring out the wow factor."

Unfazed, Mr Riyan says: "I'd not change anything; you can't please everybody."

Ms Penelope Pang, 44, director of Miss Universe Singapore organiser Derrol Stepenny Promotions, says she picked him after one of his evening gowns worn by a Miss Universe Singapore runner-up this year caught her eye. "I felt he should be given the chance to prove to us again that he can do it."

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