The national costume worn by Thach Kiem Mara at the 2023 Mister Global in Thailand has been criticized for its lack of aesthetics and creativity.
After the 2023 Mister Global finals on Sunday, Mara was the center of attention for his national costume. Many people said the costume lacked creativity and didn’t look good. Some even compared it to the outfit of Yama, the deity of death in the 1986 Chinese TV series “Journey to the West.” Mara’s performance on stage was also said to lack energy and confidence.
Vu Hoang Viet, a user, commented: “This costume simply doesn’t fit him. It’s uninspired and sketchy. How can you wear this to a beauty contest?
Another user, Iris Vo, said: “I think the issue here is not the costume but his performance. He didn’t look confident at all and it looked like there was a wardrobe malfunction on stage. He should have just chosen an ao dai instead of trying too hard to be creative.”
Thach Kiem Mara and his national costume performance at Mister Global on February 12, 2023. Photo by Missology
On Tuesday, local fashion designer Si Hoang, who created the costume, said his design was originally used for the King Ly Nhan Tong (1072-1128) character in an award-winning play in 2021.
Hoang said he researched the style of the Ly Dynasty carefully, unlike what detractors said on social media. The design included a Giao Linh ao dai with a skirt, belt, veil, Quyen Van hat and necklace all mainly made of taffeta fabric. The costume was made in 60 days and was honored with the Excellent Costume Design award by the Vietnam Stage Artists Association in 2021.
The designer said he rarely accepts jobs assisting contestants at international beauty contests. However, he agreed this time because he admired Mara’s life story of going from a bricklayer to a model. The designer said he chose the Ly Dynasty costume for Mara because it was suitable for the spirit of the contest. Due to the lack of time, Mara only had one fitting session at the studio on January 30 before leaving for the contest in Thailand on February 2.
Before Mara entered the contest, Hoang sent him a message to guide and instruct him on how to walk and pose on stage. He encouraged the model to express himself with the majestic vibe of a king.
Thach Kiem Mara in the national costume at the studio on January 30, 2023. Photo by Thai Nhan
But Mara said that when he stepped out on stage, his shoelace was loose, so he didn’t feel confident and was somewhat bewildered. However, he said he still feels proud that he put on a traditional costume and was able to introduce a part of Vietnamese culture to international friends. He said was not satisfied by only placing in the top 15 at the contest, but he accepted it and promised to improve in the future.
Mara, 26, is a Khmer man born in Tra Vinh Province. In 2019, Mara participated in Mister Vietnam. He’s currently a freelance model. To win 2023 Mister Global, Mara beat 16 other contestants in the casting round.
Mister Global is an annual men’s beauty contest that has been held in Thailand since 2014. The contest honors attractive men with positive attitudes, intelligence and participation in community activities. The contest was canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
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