Anna Sueangam-iam, representing Thailand in the preliminaries of the Miss Universe 2022 competition, stole the show with an up-cycled dress, constructed with hundreds of aluminum pull tabs. The reason why, according to fans, may be more beautiful than the dress itself.
The global Miss Universe competition, held annually, is a pageant in which women representing their countries of origin are judged on their dress, personal perspectives, and overall stage presence. Each round sees candidates eliminated until only one remains.
There’s no shortage of incredible fashion design at the event, but Sueangam-iam’s recycled dress made headlines. Dubbed the “Hidden Precious Diamond Dress,” the gown incorporates aluminum pull tabs and Swarovski crystals into a truly unique fashion statement that quickly went viral.
As Sueangam-iam explains, the dress was meant to honor her parents, both of whom worked as trash collectors.
While still on stage, she said, “You must not get stuck (in the) murky surroundings you were born into, but do believe you have the power to change your own life for the better.” On Instagram, she further explains, “… what’s considered worthless by many actually possesses its own value and beauty.”
The designer of the show-stopping dress, Arif Jehwang, said he wanted to use materials from leftovers such as pull tabs to create the outfit, in order to encourage the narrative that “things that people think are worthless or dirty can be turned into something valuable and beautiful.”
The dress, and its recycled nature, may help transform the world’s perspective on waste. With a bit of creative inspiration, we may find artful or useful purposes for items once considered useless. Trash, in some sense, might simply represent a failure of imagination.
“You are a real fighter. You are the winner in the hearts of all Thai people. Sooo proud that you wear the Thailand sash,” one Instagram user says.
Though Miss Universe Thailand did not ultimately win the competition, she still successfully demonstrated her point that a change in perspective may be the difference between trash and treasure.