Miss Universe Malaysia 2020’s Costume Comes With 2-Sided “Kampung House” & Inbuilt “Fitting Room”

3 minutes reading time

Miss Universe Malaysia 2020’s kampung-inspired gown

The 69th instalment of the Miss Universe Pageant is just around the corner. And as usual, there’s plenty of buzz leading up to the competition, with fans keeping an eye out for dazzling costumes that the event is known for.

Head-turning ones worn by previous Miss Universe Malaysia representatives include 2019’s “Peranakan Indulgence” costume. For the 2020 edition, Miss Universe Malaysia Francisca Luhong James will don 2 national costumes collectively called “Kampungku” – an elaborate ensemble in 2 parts that comes with a 2-sided kampung house backdrop equipped with a fitting room to switch costumes on stage.

Costume with Borneo Barbie headpiece & kampung house backdrop

National costumes are usually show-stopping ones that take on an extravagant twist. The Peranakan Indulgence costume, for one, weighed 28kg and was flanked by tables of traditional kuihmuih. This year’s Kampungku costume is no different, with a kampung house backdrop weighing a whopping 45kg that James will have to literally and figuratively pull off.

The costume is so heavy because the backdrop has an inbuilt “changing room” with contrasting sides to match the 2 costumes that are part of the ensemble. On one side, there’s a monochromatic kampung house inspired by scenes from Lat’s The Kampung Boy. On the other is a brilliantly coloured version of the same kampung house featuring realistic details such as chickens and coconut trees.

James is supposed to pull the backdrop with her, then rotate the “house” as she does a quick outfit change on stage. Her two outfits are a black-and-white kaftan with a bicycle headpiece, and an orange mermaid-gown reminiscent of tropical sunsets. 

Miss Universe Malaysia 2020 costume - 2 outfits
Image adapted from:
@missuniversemalaysia and @missuniversemalaysia

Both dresses, designed by Carven Ong in partnership with Wescara, took over 3 months to complete. They pay tribute to Malay traditional houses in Malaysia, which Ong – who also designed last year’s national costume – seeks to showcase to the world while giving those at home a taste of nostalgia. 

The dresses give a nod to James’ Sarawakian heritage too. The 25-year-old is the first Dayak Miss Universe Malaysia after winning last year’s competition. 

Miss Universe Malaysia 2020 costume - 3D backdrop
Video credit: @international_poll

Traditional elements, such as Orang Ulu and Malay batik prints, Sarawakian “pua” ceremonial cloth, and gold kerawang wooden beads are featured prominently on the dresses.

Miss Universe Malaysia 2020 costume - Borneo doll
Image adapted from:

The head piece that comes with the orange mermaid gown is topped with a Borneo Doll by Wesley Hilton – a Sibu-native known for customising Barbie dolls in traditional Malaysian costumes.

The doll, made specially for this year’s national costume, even wears a miniature replica of James’ dress. Around her are bunga raya petals made of mengkuang, or screwpine leaves commonly used to craft a variety of items including kampung-style mats.

Evening gown inspired by legend of Sarawak princess

Besides the national costumes, another buzzy part of the Miss Universe Pageant competitions are the evening gowns. James’ equally stunning evening gown by Malaysian fashion designer Rizman Ruzaini has silver gemstones embellishing a ombre-turqoise, hourglass gown with a high slit.

Miss Universe Malaysia 2020 costume - evening gown
Image credit:

The dress also draws upon James’ heritage, referencing a well-known Sarawakian folklore of Princess Sejinjang who, according to legend, was turned into an island. The ornamental patterns on the dress are meant to resemble the sparkling reflections of the sandy ocean floor.

Miss Universe Malaysia 2020 national costume & evening gown

The Miss Universe competitions often garner attention worldwide for the elaborate costumes and gowns worn by contestants, while filling audiences with pride for their country’s representative. Miss Universe Malaysia 2020’s outfit, with its 3D kampung house backdrop, is sure to turn heads. We hope to see Francisca Luhong James advance to the final rounds, and wish her all the best in the upcoming 69th Miss Universe show that takes place on 16th May 2021.

Read more here:

Cover image adapted from: @missuniversemalaysia and @missuniversemalaysia

Enjoying The Smart Local Malaysia? Follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Telegram for stories like this. If you have a story to share, email us at pressmy@thesmartlocal.com.