BANGKOK — Thailand’s white elephant failed to roar its way to victory at this year’s Miss Universe 2018, but the prize for best national costume nevertheless went to an elaborate dress designed by a Thai.
Rapeepat Sumray, who conjured up On-anong Homsombath’s award-winning costume depicting mythical avians, said he was taken by surprise at the news of victory. He said he didn’t expect the first time he designed for Laos would be met with such success.
“I was very happy. I was watching it live. I didn’t think Laos would snatch the award at all because it’s only the second year Laos entered the contest,” Rapeepat said in a phone interview.
The designer also defended his decision to work for the Laotian contestant despite his nationality.
“I saw it this way: it’s about opportunities,” Rapeepat, who’s better known by his stage name Kamphee Alangkan, said. “If they hand me that opportunity, I should grasp it. I have to do whatever brings me success.”
Last week on the stage of the National Costume competition, On-anong awkwardly strode and flaunted her outfit, consisting of two models of kinnaree – a mythical half-bird, half-woman creature – behind and in front of her.
Though the cumbersome costume was met with humor on the internet, she was declared winner of that category earlier today at Impact Mueang Thong Thani. The crown of Miss Universe 2018 went to Catriona Gray from the Philippines.
Rapeepat is no stranger to the stage, having worked on costumes for Miss Grand contestants from Krabi, Narathiwat and Prachuap Khiri Khan. He said someone in the team caring for Miss Universe Laos saw his works and hired him to design this year’s costume for On-anong.
He added that his biggest dream is working his magic for Miss Universe Thailand.
“I want to [design] for the Thai contestant, too,” Rapeepat said. “But I never had an opportunity so far.”