As part of the Miss Universe pageant, every contestant wears a national costume representative of her home country. The outfits are often extravagant conversation-starters, and this year’s Miss Malaysia costume is no exception.
At the upcoming pageant in Las Vegas, Malaysia's Samantha Katie James will wear a unique dress designed to look like her country's national dish of nasi lemak, local pageant organizers revealed.
According to the BBC, nasi lemak, which means “fatty rice” in Malay, is “coconut milk-infused rice accompanied by various ingredients — the standard ones are a fried egg, cucumber slices, tiny fried anchovies, peanuts, and a hefty dollop of sambal, or spice paste.” It’s typically wrapped in banana leaves and often eaten for breakfast.
The gown, however, required much more preparation than the dish: Designed by Malaysian designer Brian Khoo, the dress reportedly took more than 400 hours to complete. Khoo used hand-embroidered rhinestones to represent grains of rice, red rhinestones for the spicy sambal, and a pair of "wings" that represent banana leaves. The outfit also includes added embellishments representing peanuts, cucumbers and a fried egg, The Malay Mail Online reports.
Organizers describe it as a "feast for the eyes and the senses, mmm!" according to the BBC.
James added that she "loves nasi lemak" and eats it "all the time,” according to Channel news Asia. “It represents me and my country."
Reactions to the dress were mixed. While James might be happy with the tasty-looking costume, not all her fellow Malaysians are pleased with the food-inspired look.
The Miss Universe pageant will take place Nov. 26 at The AXIS Las Vegas.