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With all the hype surrounding Malaysia’s most iconic dish Nasi Lemak this year, it is only natural that the food becomes the main inspiration for Miss Universe Malaysia’s national costume for 2017!

The bold and unique national costume was revealed today by Miss Universe Malaysia 2017 Samantha Katie James at a press conference, along with a stunning red evening gown which she will be wearing at the Preliminary Show of Miss Universe 2017 in Las Vegas.

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Designed by luxury womenswear designer Brian Khoo, the delicious-looking dress is a tribute to the much-loved, unofficial national dish of Malaysia, the Nasi Lemak, which is a typical breakfast meal consisting of rise steamed in coconut milk served with sambal (chilli paste), slices of cucumbers, boiled or fried egg, fried anchovies, roasted peanuts, and traditionally wrapped in banana leaves.

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“It’s something which is uniquely Malaysia, and it is iconic. Last year we did the Twin Tower, so this year we want to feature the food that Malaysians love the most…Nasi Lemak is very synonymous to Malaysia, and we’re very proud and happy to present that, said Datin Elaine Daly, Director of Miss Universe Malaysia Organisation to TheHive.Asia.

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According to Brian Khoo, the idea came when he was asked about the things that remind him of his homegrown country, and the first that came to his mind is the beloved Nasi Lemak dish, and he believes that it is the perfect item to represent Malaysia at Miss Universe beauty pageant.

“When I study abroad, the one thing that always reminds me of Malaysia is its delicious food, especially Nasi Lemak. It is a dish loved by everyone, and I really want it to represent Malaysia, and have it shown to the world,” said Khoo after the press conference.

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The Nasi Lemak creation took Khoo and his team 400 hours of craftsmanship. The ivory silk dress features hand-embroidered pearlescent beads which represent the sinful coconut milk rice, fiery ruby tones of crystals which depict the spicy sambal, a side of cucumbers, an egg, roasted peanuts, and fried anchovies are also included to complete the savoury concoction.

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As a finishing touch, two banana leaves made of Batik – one of Malaysia’s most treasured heritage – is incorporated in the costume to complete the final look.

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Samantha Katie James also shared her thoughts and feelings about the dress, “It is my favourite food, and I can explain it so well to everyone! I wish I can also cook this food in Vegas so that everyone can try it,” the beauty queen said in excitement.

The 66th Miss Universe pageant will take place at The AXIS, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States on 26 November 2017. Iris Mittenaere of France will crown her successor at the end of the event.