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Vietnam beauty to hit Miss Universe 2021 stage with rice cake costume

Vietnam’s representative at Miss Universe 2021, Nguyen Huynh Kim Duyen, has an eccentric outfit inspired by ‘banh tet,’ a traditional type of glutinous rice cake, as her choice for the national costume segment in the upcoming competition.

Duyen’s costume was revealed on Saturday in the fifth episode of Road To Miss Universe 2021, a reality TV show portraying her preparation for the upcoming pageant. 

It was created by designer Khoa Lo, who took visual inspiration from ‘banh tet,’ a thick, cylindrical-shaped cake with banana leaves as its cover, glutinous rice as the main ingredient, and banana or mung beans and pork as fillings.

Nguyen Huynh Kim Duyen wears a costume inspired by Vietnam’s traditional food ‘banh tet.’ Photo: Supplied

Khoa Lo also added the purple tint of ‘la cam’ dye, a plant-based ingredient that gives ‘banh tet’ from the Mekong Delta’s Can Tho City a distinct shade, to the dress as a way to demonstrate Duyen’s pride in her hometown heritage. 

The dress is named ‘Ai tet hong,’ a reference to the street cries of ‘banh tet’ peddlers in southern Vietnam. 

In the background of the worldwide COVID-19 crisis, the designer hopes that his outfit brings a message of positivity and delight to the audience. 

During Sunday's TV episode, Duyen also showcased her dress choice for the Miss Universe 2021 evening gown competition -- a glittering outfit by designer Le Thanh Hoa that pays homage to the early morning light on the Mekong River. 

Duyen, the runner-up of Miss Universe Vietnam 2019, received a tiara as a good-luck present from jewelry house IJC, which made her the first Miss Universe candidate from Vietnam to receive a tiara as a gift before heading to the worldwide pageant. 

Vietnam beauty to hit Miss Universe 2021 stage with rice cake costume

Nguyen Huynh Kim Duyen receives a tiara as a good-luck gift from representatives of jewelry house IJC before she heads to Israel to represent Vietnam at Miss Universe 2021. Photo: Supplied

Nguyen Huynh Kim Duyen wears the tiara she received from jewelry house IJC. Photo: Supplied

Miss Universe is an annual international beauty pageant that is run by the U.S.–based Miss Universe Organization.

It is one of the most-watched pageants in the world with an estimated audience of over 500 million viewers in over 190 territories, according to Reuters.

This year, candidates from over 77 countries, including Vietnam’s Duyen, will be heading to Israel to compete for two weeks before attending a grand finale on December 12. 

In the 2020 edition, Vietnam’s representative Nguyen Tran Khanh Van finished as a Top 21 semi-finalist, while 2019 national candidate Hoang Thuy finished in the Top 20 of Miss Universe 2019. 

Vietnam’s highest placement in the pageant was in 2018, when beauty pageant and model H’Hen Nie made it into the Top Five in the Miss Universe finale in Thailand.

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