October 12, 2023
SINGAPORE – The “national costume” of Miss International Hong Kong 2023 Verna Leung is a “train wreck” or something a “Halloween ghost bride” would wear, according to netizens panning the outfit just days after it was unveiled to the public.
Or, given how the costume appears to have no qualms about throwing in everything but the kitchen sink, it could be both – something a Halloween ghost bride would wear after it emerges from a train wreck.
The outfit Ms Leung, 25, will be wearing at the Miss International Beauty Pageant on Oct 26 was “designed and tailored” by seven students from the Hong Kong Design Institute.
Images of it were posted on Facebook on Monday.
The costume features a V-shaped black crop top and what appear to be two shoulder padson either side of her head, which together read “Hong Kong” in Chinese.
Other elements of the costume include, in no particular order (just like the costume, some might say): an embroidered black balloon skirt with beads; dragon-designed fabric; mahjong designed fabric; Chinese characters that say “Tokyo”, which is where the pageant will be held; a big bow on the head; and a bag, which appears to be embroidered and bears the Chinese character “xi”, which means happiness.
The post on the Miss International Hong Kong Facebook page explained the inspiration behind the dress: “The theme of this national costume is to showcase not only traditional Chinese elements, but some local Hong Kong flavours too: neon signs, night scenery, unsimplified Chinese characters.”
Despite the overwhelming flak, some netizens lauded the students’ efforts.
One netizen wrote: “Thanks for giving an opportunity to the students to express how the costume represents Hong Kong in their mind… Good luck. Go and slay for us in Tokyo.”
Ms Leung, who runs a pet food bakery, will be competing alongside more than 70 global representatives at the international pageant.
In recent years, there has been no shortage of costumes that grabbed attention for dubious reasons.
Ms Samantha Katie James wore a nasi lemak-inspired dress representing Malaysia in the national costume segment of the Miss Universe 2017 pageant in Las Vegas.
Miss Universe Singapore 2018 Zahra Khanum’s national costume at the Miss Universe competition in Bangkok carried a political discussion awkwardly on its skirt.
Her costume was inspired by the high-profile summit in Singapore between then United States president Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in June that year.
The dress’ piece de resistance was a flowy electric blue skirt that fanned out with a digital print of a handshake – one arm featuring the North Korean flag and the other, the American flag – over the Singapore skyline.
A peace symbol was incorporated into the bodice and 3m-long white dove wings were attached to the back.
Some people questioned why a Singapore national costume featured the flags of two foreign countries, while others were ashamed that the design would be showcased on an international stage.