When the Miss Universe Thailand organisation announced in October that a bizarre tuk-tuk costume, complete with headlights, handlebars and the national flag, was selected as the Thai national costume for the Miss Universe pageant, social media users responded with derision and laughter.
Yet, love it or hate it, this strange attire worn by Miss Thailand Universe Aniporn "Nat" Chalermburanawong was named the Best National Costume at yesterday morning's Miss Universe pageant in Las Vegas.
Aniporn appeared on stage with a fantastic, electric blue tuk-tuk inspired bustier and thigh-high stockings with a tyre-tread pattern, a central headlight with handlebars and Thai flags. Attached to the costume was the backdrop of the iconic tuk-tuk - a three-wheeler auto rickshaw - with more headlights and a sign reading "Thailand".
For the first time, audiences across the world were able to vote for each category during the live telecast, and their votes were later added to the final score. Thailand's costume won the highest number of votes, ranking at 39 per cent, followed by Argentina at 30 per cent.
Aniporn, a beauty from Lampang province, also made it to the top 10 beauties but did not make the cut for the top five.
"I've done my best. Thanks for your support. It's time to go home," the 21-year-old social administration student at Thammasat University posted on Instagram shortly after the competition.
Since the National Costume award was introduced in the Miss Universe competition in 1962, Thailand has won six times. The first Thai national costume lauded was in 1969, worn by Sangduen Manwong, followed Porntip Nakhirunkanok, who also won the Miss Universe crown in 1988. Costumes worn by Chananporn Rosjan, Gavintra Photijak and Fonthip Watcharatrakul also won in 2005, 2008 and 2010 respectively.
This year's winning dress, created by Culture Ministry official Hirankrit Pattaraboriboonkul, 35, was chosen from 356 entries. The designer explained that the dress was created following the 3D-pop art aesthetic so it would be more visible on stage.
Initially, his costume was met with snide comments on social media, with many saying it did not represent "Thainess", but looked like something Wonder Woman would wear. However, supporters were quick to point out that a national costume did not have to be traditional, but could represent national icons.