PETALING JAYA, 31 October 2017 – Deftly designed with a dramatic flair, the ‘Nasi Lemak’ inspired National Costume was unveiled by reigning Miss Universe Malaysia 2017 Samantha Katie James at a special preview today in Petaling Jaya.

Samantha will be showcasing the unique ‘Nasi Lemak’ creation during the National Costume segment along with a stunning red evening gown designed by luxury womenswear designer Brian Khoo during the Preliminary Show at the 66th MISS UNIVERSE® competition leading up to the crowning of the next Miss Universe in Las Vegas, Nevada on 26 November 2017.

The customised designs were unveiled at a press conference today attended by the National Director of Miss Universe Malaysia Organization Datin Elaine Daly, Brian Khoo, representatives from sponsors ARCH, Traveloka, Ceres, Lancôme and Shawn Cutler, and Samantha Katie James who presented both outfits.”

The ‘Nasi Lemak’ National Costume was conceptualised by Dior-trained designer Brian Khoo as a tribute to the much-loved, unofficial national dish of Malaysia, the ‘Nasi Lemak’ – a typical breakfast meal consisting of rice steamed in coconut milk, served with a dollop of sambal (spicy chilli paste), garnished with fresh sliced cucumbers, boiled or fried egg, fried anchovies, roasted peanuts, and traditionally wrapped in banana leaves.

Following a total of 400 hours of craftsmanship, the result is a spectacular and sensual original masterpiece which is a feast for the eyes and senses. Individual hand-embroidered pearlescent beads cast the ivory silk dress in a luminous glow, to represent the decadent coconut milk-infused rice. Fiery ruby tones of crystals bestow a bold spiciness reminiscent of the zesty sambal. A side of cucumbers, eggs and slivers of anchovies are playfully rendered in a constellation of glass beads thrown into the mix to complete this savoury concoction. Batik, one of our nation's most treasured heritage is incorporated into the costume through the painted banana leaf motif to complete the look.

“Despite the wide diversity of cultures in our country, we can all agree that ‘Nasi Lemak’ truly unites us all,” enthused Brian Khoo when commenting about the National Costume.

For the Preliminary Evening Gown, Brian opted for a bold red evening gown rich with sophisticated sensuality and oozing with a sense of femininity. The lush silk fabric encases Samantha’s figure and sculpts it into a stunning silhouette of perfection. Coupled with a translucent mesh corset bedazzled with Swarovski crystals in a variety of crimson hues, the dress practically glows from within. The daring display of leg through the slit of the dress, partially hidden under an illusion netting and adorned with glittering Swarovski crystals project a radiant confidence to set the stage on fire. Under the glaring spotlights, her evening gown will glow and smoulder, ensuring that every movement is highlighted in a dazzling glint of light. This creation practically pulsates with female elegance and gives the wearer a powerful sense of empowerment.

Luxury womenswear designer Brian Khoo spent his formative years in Sabah and Melbourne, and enrolled at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) before completing his fashion degree at ESMOD Paris. He has had stints with various fashion labels in China, Malaysia, Australia and France, most notably as a designer assistant with Christian Dior Couture Paris. Brian founded his Malaysian-based bespoke label in early 2016, and his aesthetic is refined, yet provocative, and is ideal for the independent, contemporary woman.

During the National Gift Auction segment in Las Vegas where all contestants will be bringing mementoes from their respective countries to be auctioned off for charity, Samantha will be presenting a two dimensional art piece titled ‘The Tropical Rainforest’ from ARCH which features 10 species of wood, painstakingly crafted and assembled by local artisans and master craftsmen to depict Malaysian rainforests rich with natural flora and fauna, and home to countless species of birds, animals and insects.

This one-of-a-kind National Gift created by ARCH, a Malaysian home-grown brand also features 126 dazzling Swarovski crystals of different colours encrusted – 60 to symbolise Malaysia’s 60 years of independence since 1957, and 66 to represent the 66th MISS UNIVERSE® competition. Framed by solid durian wood, the end product is an authentic masterpiece that combines tradition, fine workmanship and innovation.

TARCH will also be providing hand-crafted delegate gifts that will be presented to all contestants participating in the 66TH MISS UNIVERSE® Competition. Meanwhile, this year, Traveloka is the proud sponsor for Miss Universe Malaysia 2017’s flights to the pageant finals in Las Vegas.

Mr Halif Hamzah, Traveloka Country Manager for Malaysia and Singapore said, “Samantha once stated that as a beauty queen, one should be genuine and kind. Every person is unique, and everyone should try to see the beauty in others. We at Traveloka find this to be aligned with our belief that each customer is special and deserves the best service before, during and after purchase of travel arrangements.”

He added, “A lot of effort is put into developing Traveloka’s easy-to-use, value-added features that cater to customers’ different travel needs, including easy comparison of flights and hotels, 0% instalment as a payment option, easy rescheduling, 24/7 customer service and many more. In celebration of individual uniqueness whether in services or personal ambition, we wish Samantha the best in her Miss Universe journey.”