Malaysian beauty queen is set to make a splash yet again this year at the Miss Universe pageant when Francisca Luhong James struts the stage with a whole kampung house as part of the upcoming National Costume segment.
The costume, created by Carven Ong and previewed for the first time at an event at Vogue Lounge, Kuala Lumpur, was revealed to have taken the designer three months to finish and is built to resemble a traditional kampung house.
“I want to bring our unique kampung to the world to show them how unique our Malaysian traditional house is,” said Ong. ““I’m from Taiping, Perak and whenever I travel home, I often see kampung houses and that’s why I want to promote our heritage houses.”
According to Francisca, who shared a photo of her in a black and white outfit ensemble with bicycle headgear against a matching kampung backdrop on Instagram, “First look inspired by the theme “Kampungku” colour scheme symbolises the sweet, innocent memory of one’s youth while the motif on the fabric is inspired by Sarawak’s ‘Orang Ulu print. The look is completed with a headpiece in the shape of a bicycle, a typical mode of transport for youths back in the olden days.”
Carven Ong explains that the design of the pattern of the black and white colour batik is inspired by the heritage patterns of Sarawak, Pua Kumbu, and Sungai.
Francisca will change into a second more vibrant dress as she rotates the traditional house to showcase its more colourful reverse structure, complete with replica chickens and coconut trees.
She posted, “The kampong scene is then brought to life in colour, complete with replica chickens and coconut tree when the reverse side of the house is revealed. Matching the scene is a vibrant off-shoulder orange gown representing a stunning evening sunset, and gold ‘kerawang’ wooden beading to reflect Francisca’s Sarawakian heritage. To complete the transformation, Francisca wears a whimsical-looking headpiece by Borneo Doll featuring a ‘Francisca’ doll with an identical gown and a crown to denote queenly beauty, surrounded by the national flower, ‘Bunga Raya’ made of intricately woven ‘mengkuang’ to symbolise her beloved country, Malaysia.”
The 25-year-old Francisca is the first Sarawakian-Dayak woman to ever win the title. She will be competing at the upcoming pageant on 16 May in Hollywood, Florida, United States.
Back in 2017, Malaysian representative Samantha Katie James also turned viral for her Nasi Lemak dress, while Shweta Sekhon strutted the stage in 2019 with a 28kg outfit that comes with trays of traditional kuih.