Kuih Lapis and Onde-Onde for Miss Universe Malaysia 2019

Who could forget the iconic Nasi Lemak dress worn by our Miss Universe Malaysia in 2017? Well it’s that time of the year again for the unveiling of Miss Universe Malaysia’s national costume and evening gown, and this time we have our kuih lapis and onde-onde in the spotlight!

All set for the 68th Miss Universe competition taking place in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, Swetha Sekhon, reigning Miss Universe Malaysia 2019 will be donning a Peranakan themed National costume that combines Malaysia’s rich cultural influences from the Malay, Chinese and Peranakan (Straits-Born Chinese) community.

kuih lapis and onde-onde for miss universe malaysia 2019

Photo: The Miss Universe Malaysia Organization

Named “A Peranakan Indulgence”, Carven Ong (who also designed the iconic waterproof wedding gown in ‘The Crazy Rich Asians’!) spent three months to create the elaborate dress.

The main body of the dress is made using songket, a luxurious fabric used mainly in Malay wedding attires. The wings of the costume features Nyonya Batik commonly used by Peranakan women as sarongs and also represents the tails of a goldfish to symbolize wealth and prosperity. The golden cape made of songket with gold thread and red beadings was inspired by the traditional wedding costume worn by Peranakan brides, while gold aster flowers attached to her headgear were chosen to represent love and femininity.

The main attraction for the costume however has to be the beloved local kuihs nicely plated around the costume. The design features an assortment of local kuih of both Malay and Peranakan origins, which includes onde-onde, kuih koci, ang ku, kuih talam, kuih lapis, kuih sago and red eggs, complete with a bakul siah (traditional Nyonya basket), reminiscent of a lavish Peranakan wedding feast!

kuih lapis and onde-onde for miss universe malaysia 2019

Photo: The Miss Universe Malaysia Organization

Ong said that there were many challenges in creating the national costume, from the mini stage to the wings (to enable Shweta to move gracefully), the replica food, as well as the delicate work required for the embroidery patches. However, he says he is pleased with the final outcome and is proud to be able to create something unique that symbolises the beauty of Malaysia, and at the same time, to introduce our multicultural heritage to the world.

For the evening gown, Ong chose a golden caramel hue to represent the sandy beaches in Malaysia. Embellished with sea shell beads of different shapes and sizes complete with a mermaid’s fin silhouette on both sides of her hip, the evening gown complements her hourglass figure and definitely made us feel like we’re on the beach, with a coconut by our side.

kuih lapis and onde-onde for miss universe malaysia 2019

Photo: The Miss Universe Malaysia Organization

As for Swetha, wearing and carrying the 28kg costume must not be easy feat, but despite the national costume’s weight, she will wear both the national costume and evening gown with pride and hopes to win the competition.

We wish Swetha and the Miss Universe Malaysia team the very best of luck!

By: Siti Farhana Sheikh Yahya