‘This is a train wreck’: Netizens take aim at Miss International Hong Kong 2023’s costume
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.
But it is perhaps best described as a design that best represents the tradition of over-the-top beauty pageant costumes that have featured food and a political meeting in the past.
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 appears to be two shoulder pads – or giant mahjong tiles – on 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 Miss International Beauty 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.
Yes, despite all of the above, Ms Leung is apparently supposed to be portraying 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 quite some local HK flavours too: neon signs, night sceneries, unsimplified Chinese characters etc.”
Some netizens roasted the costume. One said: “This is a train wreck”. Another netizen wrote: “This costume perfectly depicts the class and taste of Hong Kong nowadays. Way to go team, way to go...”
Several said that the costume looks like something one would wear during Halloween – one netizen was more specific, saying in Chinese that it was a “Halloween ghost bride look”.
However, 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 with over 70 representatives globally at the pageant, where Singapore will be represented by 26-year-old entrepreneur and personal trainer Priyanka Annuncia.
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 Khanu’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.
It was no Victoria’s Secret that hardly anyone had anything good to say about it.
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.