Miss Universe Australia, 27-year-old Maria Thattil, has taken to social media to show off the national costume she’ll be wearing at this year’s Miss Universe pageant next month.
And true to previous costumes, it’s an eyebrow-raiser.
Find out more about the costume in the video above
Rather than a dress, it’s more like a body sculpture, paired with tight-fitting pants and a plunging sequinned corset.
At first look, it doesn’t seem stereotypically Australian in theme. So what inspired it?
Turns out the eye-catching costume is inspired by the black swan, the emblem of Western Australia and “a symbol of hope,” Thattil wrote in an Instagram post.
“Up until the 16th century, swans were widely believed to be invariably white – the term “Black Swan” originated from a Western belief that it was an impossible avian, just because it wasn’t accounted for,” she wrote.“The Black Swan is a symbol of the unexpected and overcoming the impossible.
“It symbolises the beauty and wonder in being open for CHANGE.
“As the Black Swan defied generalised assumptions, similarly, I have challenged many norms in order to stand as Miss Universe Australia, and believe in breaking barriers and expectations of women and people of colour in society.
“It is imperative that I embody this symbolism of the Black Swan because it is in line with the true Australian spirit of challenging moulds to be more inclusive and open to ALL.”
Thattil was born and raised in Melbourne to Indian parents who migrated to Australia in the early 1990s.
The costume was designed by WA-based designer Nicola Yeung.“The designer was attracted to the Black Swan for its bold symmetrical features, the stark contrast between the black plumes, the richly coloured red bills, and the panels of white that are visible when the bird is in flight,” Thattil explained.
“The body of black sequins on the bodice imitate glistening water. The wings are poised to open, as though about to take flight.”
The costume features 105 hand-cut fabric feathers. The upper feathers spin, run by a small motor attached to the wearer’s back.
“OMG an Asian Aussie designer and the emblem of my home state. I love this. I thought at first it was an illustration. So excited for you, babe,” one Instagram follower wrote.
“FANTASTIC,” another enthused.
“Oh MY GOODNESS!!! If this isn’t the most spectacular & meaningful National Costume ever, then I don’t know what is!!!,” a third wrote.
Thattil was crowned Miss Universe Australia in October last year.
The fashion blogger has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and works for the government in a “talent acquisition” role.
She has been granted a special travel exemption to attend the Miss Universe finals in Florida on May 16.
There was no Miss Universe in 2020 due to the COVID pandemic.
The last pageant was held in December 2019 and was won by Zozibini Tunzi from South Africa.