Designer goes 'architectural' for Supertree-inspired MUS national costume
Manuela's national costume to be based on Gardens by the Bay's Supertrees
As a little girl, Manuela Bruntraeger loved to twist scarves into different outfits and hold "fashion shows" at home.
That is why the newly crowned Miss Universe Singapore (MUS) 2017, who describes herself as "a girly girl" growing up, was excited to get a sneak peek of this year's national costume on Saturday, when she had her measurements taken and saw the sketches.
Rather than a cultural or ethnic theme, award-winning designer Moe Kasim, who created the Peranakan-inspired outfit donned by last year's MUS winner Cheryl Chou, has chosen to go "architectural" this time.
He is basing it on Gardens by the Bay's Supertrees and, unlike previous years, it will be a bodysuit instead of a dress.
Mr Kasim said: "I wanted something different and to challenge myself to do something structural.
"The Supertree is the focus, so the backpack will take more work. It will have LED lights, so there will be some wiring to do.
"We also have to make sure it is not too heavy for her. She must be able to move comfortably and confidently."
Manuela is excited about getting to parade in something so "strong, unique and striking" when she represents Singapore at the Miss Universe pageant, which will be held in Las Vegas on Nov 26.
The 24-year-old artist said: "The Supertree is such a recognisable part of Singapore's identity. This is one of the newest, most iconic structures, and there is no country in the world that has it.
"So this year, we have the opportunity to be different and stand out more. We are a forward-looking country, and this costume will really represent how far we have come."
She added: "I am definitely going to hit the gym so that my body will be on point for the bodysuit. I want to do the costume, the designer and Singapore justice."
Apart from Manuela keeping fit, Ms Nuraliza Osman, national director of Miss Universe Singapore Organisation B.V. and MUS 2002 winner, also has plans for her to prepare for next month's international pageant.
She said: "There are a few areas we want to concentrate on, such as the question and answer segment. We will also be polishing her image, wardrobe and styling for the competition."
Manuela had her first official photo shoot as Miss Universe Singapore yesterday, and she will spend the week ahead visiting sponsors for her outfits to Las Vegas as well as receiving head-to-toe makeover from sponsors.
Manuela also revealed that her inspiration to join MUS 2017 was not an international beauty queen but someone closer to home.
Her mother Margaret, a Singaporean of Portuguese descent, cracked the Top 10 of MUS in 1982.
Manuela made her loved ones proud when she not only clinched the crown this year, but also three subsidiary titles - Miss Aspirational, Miss Beautiful Skin and Miss Alluring - at the grand finale held at Resorts World Sentosa Convention Centre last Wednesday.
Right after the event, she and her family drove to McDonald's for her favourite food combination - "fries in ice cream".
Recalling the much-anticipated moment of dipping her french fries into her ice cream, Manuela told The New Paper: "After the pressure was off, the instinct was to eat it, but it wasn't really that great. After the past three months of eating 'clean' food, I realised I do not really need fast food."
Manuela slept only at around 5am because of the adrenaline from winning and then had an uneasy dream that made her question her victory.
She said: "It went along the lines of, 'Do I really want this?', because it can be a long and gruelling process. But when I woke up and saw (TNP article headline) 'First Earth, then the Universe' with a picture of me, all the anxiety just disappeared."
Seeing photographs and news of her win online and in the newspapers was a strange yet incredible feeling for Manuela.
Along with the many well wishes and messages she received on Thursday morning - from strangers, people she had not seen in years and overseas relatives who watched the finale live on TNP's Facebook page - the news finally sank in.
Last Friday, Manuela went on-air with DJs Glenn Ong, The Flying Dutchman and Catherine Robert at ONE FM 91.3's studio for ONE FM'S #1 Breakfast Show.
Ong and The Flying Dutchman were the emcees for the MUS finale.
The Flying Dutchman told TNP: "Nobody expects someone to win three subsidiary titles, but once she won the third title, I knew she had the crown."
Ong added: "All the contestants were beautiful but Manuela had the X-factor."
Being a fan of the pair of veteran radio jocks, Manuela said: "I was star-struck, but we didn't get to interact much as everyone was focused on the rehearsals."
She finally got to interact with them during the radio show.
She said: "My heart was racing in the last few seconds before we went (on-air), but it felt natural after that, like a normal conversation - except that the entire Singapore was listening."
During the show, she was asked: "How local are you?"
Manuela, whose father is German, has had Singaporeans questioning her roots.
She said: "Though I studied at an international school (in Singapore) up until A levels, I have always felt that Singapore is my home.
"Singapore is really the place that I call home, and I don't identify with anywhere else as home."On how she performed on-air, The Flying Dutchman was surprised Manuela seemed so comfortable, adding: "She is clear and crisp, and people will actually want to listen to her... From what I saw in the studio, I think she will do well in Vegas."