Views divided over Miss Universe Singapore's national costume

Views divided over Miss Universe Singapore's national costume

The national costume for this year's Miss Universe Singapore representative does away with the culture-centric look of previous years.

Miss Rathi Menon, 24, wore a glitzy, star-covered gold bodysuit, matching thigh-high boots and had a giant crescent and stars at her back at the Miss Universe National Costume Show, held in the US city of Miami on Wednesday (US time), ahead of the finals which will be held tomorrow (US time).

It will be shown on Monday at 6pm on Star World (StarHub Ch 501).

Miss Rathi's get-up was designed by Spanish-Venezuelan celebrity designer Alejandro Fajardo, 48, who has created outfits for US singer Jennifer Lopez.

He is also designing the gowns for the pageant's female host Natalie Morales and reigning Miss Universe Gabriela Isler at the finals.

Aside from the national costume parade, the preliminary round, which was on the same day, had swimsuit and evening gown segments. Eighty-seven other delegates strutted their stuff on stage.

Ms Penelope Pang, director of Miss Universe Singapore organiser Derrol Stepenny Promotions, said the decision to take a radical approach to the costume was a bid to "change things up".

The 45-year-old, who describes the outfit as "Beyonce meets Victoria's Secret", said: "We left the concept and designs to designers in the past years and they always came up with the same each year - orchids, Merlion or Peranakan themes, which all failed on the international stage.

"I wanted this to be different from the norm."

Added Ms Pang, who is in Miami as Miss Rathi's chaperone:"The (international) audiences do not understand the past costumes. They are there to see a costume show, so the costume needs to be spectacular, 'silly', loud and entertaining. I knew I was taking a risk... but I hope our country sees and accepts this new adaptation."

Singapore's 50th birthday this year played a role in the inspiration for the costume, with the stars and crescent reflecting the national flag.

MODERN SINGAPORE

"We wanted to feature a modern Singapore, a city developed through 50 golden years into one of the world's leading business and fashion hubs," said Ms Pang.

The concept for the costume was a collaboration between Fajardo and Miss Rathi's stylists, Ines Ligron and Claudia Zuleta, who had brought Fajardo on board.

Said Ms Pang: "I already knew who Alejandro was and I'm a big fan of his gown and costume designs in the international scene, so there was no hesitation."

Miss Rathi's national costume may have been markedly different from its predecessors, but it still failed to win approval from many observers.

Some netizens were upset that the costume was created by a foreigner. Others slammed it for failing to represent Singapore.

Facebook user Nur Liyana said: "Is this Venezuela designer Singapore-based? Is he exposed to our multicultural backgrounds? That costume does not reflect Singapore."

Another user, Nusrat Abdul Rashid, said it was more fitting as "Beyonce or Lady Gaga's concert show outfit".

But some were impressed, like Facebook user Manbir Chyle Lalwani, who said: "I think it's very contemporary and reflective of modern Singapore... Be supportive of our best delegate yet."

Local fashion designers The New Paper spoke to were also divided in their opinions.

"I think it's a lot more modern and sophisticated compared to past costumes," said Ms Jo Soh, 38, who is behind the label hansel.

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