The territory's beauty queens are not known for their exemplary dress sense on how three leading designers would dress Miss Hongkong. MISS Hongkong contestants have rarely been admired for their sophisticated dress sense. Feminine, demure and pretty they may be, but when it comes to wardrobe, designers and audiences tend to cringe at the gold lame dress or billowing layers of cheap taffeta. ''They overdo it a bit,'' said designer Allan Chiu, who thinks it is about time Miss Hongkong-types traded in the frivolous dresses for a simpler, more natural look. ''She represents Hongkong and she needs a presentable and healthy image,'' he said. ''They also have to bring out a message to show they are a woman of the times.'' Self-confidence and a positive attitude were among the most important personality traits of Miss Hongkong winners, but Chiu said they rarely allowed this aspect of their characters to come through. ''These should be girls who are independent and who want to go back to nature,'' he said. ''Simple, mature and modern styles would work best. There is no need to use bright colours or eye-catching styles to build up their image.'' When the Sunday Morning Post asked Chiu, and two other designers, to come up with an ensemble for Hoyan Mok, the 23-year-old Miss Hongkong, Chiu said he decided to stick to earthy shades of brown, rust and mustard. Nonetheless, his design for Miss Hongkong veered a little to the avant-garde: an off-the-shoulder blouse with multi-tiered and ruffled sleeves worn under a halter-neck pinafore-style dress with a knee-length, flared skirt that opens up the front to reveal a petticoat in a contrasting shade. ''It is a little trendy and fashionable, but sometimes the clothes the girls choose are a bit overdone,'' Chiu said. ''They are too extravagant and have too much fuss and detail. Clothes can be fancy, but they should be nice to wear and fashionable at the same time, and there should be only a touch of sexiness.'' He chose earth and bronze colours because of their timelessness. ''They are very popular colours for the summer, and especially they are colours that will not go out of fashion,'' he said. ''They are natural, simple and earthy - just like Miss Hongkong should be.'' Pacino Wan clearly disagreed. Another award-winning designer, he put together a structured, well-defined outfit that the new Miss Hongkong could wear to a formal daytime ceremony. ''I like lots of bright colours,'' he said. ''I would put her in a suit that is a combination of red, blue, yellow and pink with a fitted jacket which has a wide neckline and which shows a lot of shoulder.'' A combination of stripes, checks and polka dots would be used for the jacket, which would be in a soft silk and cotton combination. Pants would be wide and fluid yet with bold stripes. ''I chose this design for her because I think she has a kind face with soft features and I wanted to put together something that would make her appear more energetic and vibrant,'' he said. ''She should be bright like a superstar.'' What each of the designers came up with is a clear reflection of their perception of the girls and the contest. One of Hongkong's most contemporary designers, William Tang, said a bit more sexual provocation in clothing was called for. After all, he said, beauty pageants were all about beauty and the girls ought to play on their sex appeal and feminine attractiveness. ''I think it's important to have a Miss Hongkong who has intelligence, but sometimes I feel these girls don't think too much about the overall beauty of their bodies,'' he said. ''I would rather design something that exposes their body a bit more. They seem to be a bit conservative.'' He found beauty queens were more inclined towards dressing as if they were starring in a television spectacle, as opposed to dressing as if they were on the fashion catwalk. ''Asian girls have a bit of a disadvantage when they compete in international pageants because of their height, so I think wearing something a bit sexier would help,'' he said. ''They shouldn't feel shy about it, because if they can wear a swimsuit, they can easily wear a revealing evening dress.'' For his offering, Tang designed a bright fuchsia pink gown with a cut-out bodice and flowing skirt that was cut to the thigh. Tang favours shocking pink as the most attractive colour for evening dresses. ''They always seem to be the ones who win because the colour is so striking and it suits Asian skin so well,'' he said. ''And no matter what people say, beauty pageants are all about beauty.''