Come December 9, Miss Malaysia Universe Shweta Sekhon is set to present to the world Malaysia’s Peranakan culture in a special pageant dress that comes complete with trays of kuih-muih, including onde-onde, kuih talam, red eggs, ang ku kuih and more.
Miss Malaysia Universe costumes are typically elaborate, larger-than-life interpretations of the country’s diverse and unique culture.
As a result, reactions towards the costumes are often at two extreme ends, sparking debate across the internet on how the heritage of Malaysia should be presented in costume form.
This year though, the Peranakan tribute seems to tick all the right boxes.
After its unveiling on Tuesday (Nov 12), photos of the costume drew praise from Malaysian netizens, who lauded it for paying tribute to the different cultures in Malaysian society.
Even a netizen from Indonesia was impressed by the design, leaving a comment on Shweta’s post on Wednesday morning that said: “I am Indonesian but (I have) to confess that this is keren bangeet (very good).”
According to New Straits Times (NST), the 2019 costume combines elements from Malay, Chinese and Peranakan culture.
Taking over three months to complete, it weighs a total of 28kg, and is made up of a songket with delicate embroidery and beadwork, headgear with gold aster flowers, and wings designed to look like Nyonya batik.
Its golden cape, threads and red beading were inspired by traditional Peranakan bridal wear, NST added.
Designer Carven Ong said in an Instagram post that the piece was titled “A Peranakan Indulgence“, which probably explains the trays of traditional sweets and delicacies it comes with.
Kuala Lumpur-based Ong – whose previous works include a wedding gown worn in Crazy Rich Asians – also designed this year’s pageant evening gown, which is meant to represent the sand on Malaysia’s idyllic beaches.
- Facebook/Shweta Sekhon, The New Paper
22-year-old Shweta will travel to Atlanta, Georgia in the US to compete next month.
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