The costume, which was unveiled on Nov 29, 2018, featured a skirt digitally printed with a handshake - one arm features the North Korean flag and the other, the American flag - over the Singapore skyline. (The Straits Times/File)
Singapore's representative to the upcoming Miss Universe pageant plans to wear a dress depicting a key moment of the US-North Korea summit that Singapore hosted earlier this year, but the design of her gown has raised hackles in the wealthy city-state.
The outfit, which shows two hands draped in the flags of the United States and North Korea locked in warm handshake on an electric blue background lined with iconic tourist attractions in Singapore, has drawn flak on social media since it was unveiled last week.
An online petition has been launched to prevent the costume from being paraded by 23-year-old Singaporean model Zahra Khanum as a national costume at the pageant in Bangkok later this month, with many criticizing it as not representative of Singapore besides being ugly, gawdy and poorly designed.
"It would truly be a sad day to have Singapore represented with the American and North Korean flags," said the petition, which was started by Sandra Galistan, and has attracted more than 1,700 online supporters. "There is nothing about this distasteful costume that truly represents Singapore. It is totally non-representative, inappropriate and ridiculous to say the least."
However, Khanum has defended the costume and was quoted by the state-run Channel News Asia as saying that it is "just a representation of what Singapore stands for, which is world peace, and the fact that Singapore is reaching out to other countries to create positive relationships."
Moe Kasim, 48, the creative director of Moephosis Concepts (Singapore) who designed the costume, was undeterred by the criticism.
"I'm a very positive person. I guess after designing and making national costumes for various pageants over the past 10 years, I'm mentally prepared for all kinds of responses," he said in an email reply to Kyodo News.
He said he was asked by the organizers to design something based on the historic summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, which was held June 12 on Singapore's Sentosa Island.
"I believe the organizers wanted to highlight what was relevant, current and unique -- something that was probably only going to happen once in our lifetime and in Singapore's history," he said.
"I naturally thought of world peace and the elements of it, hence, the design," he said of the costume, which also features two large feathery wings.
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