SINGAPORE (THE NEW PAPER) – When Miss Universe Singapore (MUS) 2018 Zahra Khanum appears on stage in Bangkok for the Miss Universe national costume parade next month, she will feature one of the important events this year.
In June, Singapore was the location for the historic North Korea-United States meeting, the first time between leaders of both countries, Mr. Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump respectively.
The meeting was the inspiration for this year's MUS national costume, which consisted of 3m long white dove wings, a symbol of peace inserted into an electric blue corset and skirt decorated with a digital print handshake – one hand showing the North Korean flag and the other, a flag America – above Singapore's horizon.
Designing MUS national costumes for the third year in a row, Mr. Moe Kasim, 48, likes to play in the beauty stereotype – wants world peace.
He told The New Paper: "The most difficult part is delivering a message with taste through design. I have to consider political sensitivity and what all that means for Singapore and the world community … without (creating) misinterpretations.
"And when the meeting is about making peace, it's only natural to go on the theme of World Peace."
Said Miss Khanum, a 24-year-old sociology graduate from the National University of Singapore: "My first impression of the costume was that the costume looked truly angelic and it truly embodied the essence of world peace.
"It has a very calm and calming effect."
Mr. Kasim, who is the creative director of the Moephosis Concept, worked with MUS national director Nuraliza Osman with the themes and costumes needed for three months.
Last year's MUS winner Manuela Bruntraeger wore a Supertree LED costume, while the 2016 winner Cheryl Chou was inspired by Peranakan.
He said: "This year's costumes are different because they have no multi-racial, architectural or iconic elements or themes at all.
"On the contrary, it is purely based on a historic event which is monitored internationally on the Singapore calendar, which is rather unique."
Miss Nuraliza, 41, added: "This shows the importance of Singapore in mediating peace, not only regionally but also globally."
Miss Khanum said: "This truly represents something we all need, namely to promote a sense of unity and friendship, rather than hatred and anger."
The peak occurred just before the weekend of MUS 2018 audition, and he remembered that period as one of the preparations.
"I read about world issues every night and noted. I listened to what important people said about this problem, like my idol (former US First Lady) Michelle Obama and (actress) Priyanka Chopra."
And now, he is making a similar effort to prepare for the Miss Universe final in Bangkok, which will be held on December 17 at Impact Arena.
He said: "I have gone for constant training and healthy eating. I have practiced catwalks and expressions on stage. I have also followed the world news to expand my knowledge.
"I hope my efforts succeed. I look forward to doing my best to make Singapore very proud."