Our Favorite MGI2020 National Costumes

The eighth edition of Miss Grand International is currently ongoing in Bangkok, Thailand and they recently had their national costume show. On March 24, 2021, the 63 candidates of Miss Grand International 2020 showcased their culture and beauty in the national costume competition.

Here are our favorite costumes from last night’s live show. These are listed alphabetically:

Continue reading “Our Favorite MGI2020 National Costumes”

Designer Label Pageant Gowns and Their Price Tags

Guessing the price tag for a designer label pageant gown can be a tricky game to play. Thankfully with our years in the fashion industry, we can pretty much give you the price range for these expensive gowns.

To paraphrase master couturier Cary Santiago, “pageant gowns are never the barometer of fashion“. In fact, pageant gowns offer only a limited range of silhouettes to use and people in the fashion industry usually regard pageant fashions as fashion-followers instead of making groundbreaking innovations. Topping that is the hefty prices that someone has to pay for a luxury label dress. That is why it always sends pageant fans excited whenever a pageant girl wears a designer label gown for any pageant.

Designer label dresses from well-established foreign brands would retail from approximately $1,800 to an upwards of $8,000. However if it comes from a well known luxury brand and is fully embroidered/ embellished, then you can expect that the price range could easily start from $5,000 and can go up to 5 figures. 

Oxana Fedorova in Gucci,  Miss Universe 2002 – the story behind this gown was that it was Miss Universe-Japan’s former national director, Ines Ligron that lent this gown to Oxana. This gown is said to be Mina Chiba’s gown that Ines lent to Oxana in the finals when she saw how uninspired her preliminary gown was looking. The Gucci gown was from Tom Ford’s Spring Summer 2002 collection and features an inner corset and white satin ribbon. It actually comes in black and in white, with the white version worn by Kate Beckinsale at the 2002 SAG Awards.

Riyo Mori in Gucci,  Miss Universe 2007 – this boho-folkloric long dress was part of Frida Giannini’s 2007 Spring-Summer collection for Gucci. The gown features a black long-sleeved maxi-dress with multiple godets on the skirt. Oprah Winfrey donned the dress earlier for the Vanity Fair Oscars party. Ines Ligron had the knack of putting her ward in European designers and Gucci seemed to be a favorite. She even confirmed in a CNNgo interview that MUJ 2010 Maiko Itai, will be wearing Gucci for the finals. It is also said that the gown Hiroko Mima was to wear for the MU2008 finals would have been a Fendi gown.

Kurara Chibana in Rochas, Miss Universe 2006 – the black gown with open lattice-work that she wore for the Miss Universe finals was designed by Olivier Theyskens for Rochas. It was deceptively simple at fist glance but those open-work lattice is a mastery of craftsmanship.

Miyako Miyazaki in Celine, Miss Universe 2003 – this was a daring choice for the finals but it paid off greatly. The gown-kini from Celine was one of the most memorable gowns in the past 3 decades. The beaded top, the feathered skirt were from Celine while the dramatic overcoat was purchased by MUJ director Ines Ligron in a London vintage shop. Ines once mused that she regretted having Miyako change to a more conservative gown after making top 5 as it made her blend in rather than stand out with the Celine outfit.

Miriam Quiambao in Halston, Miss Universe 1999 – this gown was from the 1998 Spring Summer collection by designer Randolph Duke for the label Halston. Halston became a fashion rockstar in the 1970s’ disco heydays with the founder’s knack for fluid, minimal but sophisticated designs. Roy Halston Frowick stated his women’s wear brand in 1968. The gown worn by Miriam though was added beadwork by Colombian designer Alfredo Barraza to make it more pageant-ready.

Katherine Annwen de Guzman in Naeem Khan, Miss World 2000 – the blue fully sequined dress was from the S/S 1999 collection of Indian- American fashion designer Naeem Khan. Khan who shows at the New York Fashion Week has once mentioned that the embroideries of his dresses takes place in India with laces from China.

Wendy Fitzwilliam in Badgley & Mischka, Miss Universe 1998 – one of the all-time top scorers in the evening gown competition, Wendy smashed the competition in Hawaai that year with this ivory white gown from the design duo Badgley & Mischka. Wendy paired the gown with a white chiffon opera coat that flowed as she walked.

READ here for the most memorable gowns of the past decade…

Dubai-based Filipino designer Michael Cinco is arguably one of the most accessible designers when it comes to seeing his gowns worn in pageants. His elaborate creations were worn by no less than 7 girls, making him a favorite of pageant girls. Most of the designs he loans these pageant girls would later be seen on several international celebs.
There is a general agreement among fashion connoisseurs that couture pieces could approximately be sold from $80,000 to $100,000+ due to the intricacy of the handwork made on the design. The more laborious the design, the more expensive they tend to be. Knowing how lavish M5 designs are, it would be safe to say that the price tag might too high for a regular pageant girl to purchase.

Marta Magdalena Stepien, Miss Universe 2018 – she was the only girl (aside from outgoing MU queens Iris & Pia) to have worn a M5 on the Miss Universe finals telecast. Her pink gown with a detachable overskirt deserved the grandeur of the Thai MU stage that year.

Mariana Varela,  Miss Universe 2019
– she had two Michael Cinco gowns for the Miss Universe pageant. Her preliminary competition gown a hot pink ruffled gown with amazing beadwork while her supposed finals gown was the red number that Marta Magdalena Stepien wore in a M5 fashion show a year prior.

Valerie Weigmann, Miss World 2014 – this muted canary yellow ballgown may look familiar to regular Pinoys as this was worn by actress Marian Rivera for her prenup photoshoot in dunes of the Dubai desert. But Valerie Wiegmann wore this a year prior at the Miss World finals in London.

Kseniya Alexandrova, Miss Universe 2017 – she flew to Dubai and posted fittings of her Cinco gown on her Instagram account. It was unfortunate that she didn’t shine during the preliminary competition. Add to that is the fact that she didn’t wear the M5 gown in the preliminaries at the Planet Hollywood mezzanine hall.

Queenierich Rehman,  Miss World 2012 – there was a persistent rumor in 2012 that this M5 gown was supposed to be the winner of the World Designer competition segment of the MW pageant. However the said award was mysteriously scrapped and was never mentioned who officially won the award. This red ombre confection has all the tulle, beads and plumes working in a harmonious design.  This was first worn and showcased in the Philippines by actress Anne Curtis in the designer’s show that wowed local fashionistas.

Mohana Prabha,  Miss Universe 2019 – this national costume was PR’d to be inspired by the Singaporean national flower, Vanda Miss Joaquim. Unfortunately, this M5 piece was previously shown as part of the designer’s collection named “The Impalpable Dream of Swan Lake”. It drew flak from some Singaporeans for being inauthentic to the country it represents.

Ahtisa Manalo, Miss International 2018 – rumor has it that Ahtisa was supposed to wear a different designer who got bumped off to make way for Cinco’s creation. This blush colored number is a study of detail. It may have looked simple and understated from afar, up-close it is anything but. The bodice was decked with matte-finish Swarovski crystals in the pales of pink hues. Judging by the details alone, this gown could have been made by no less than 2,000 to 5,000 hours with the hand-embellishement taking a huge chunk of the time. Aside from the lavish beadwork, it also features fine plumassier work on the skirt and hemlines.

The gowns and designers mentioned on this list is perhaps among the well-known and revered ones in haute couture. They are separated from the others as only those named and approved by the French Chambre Syndicale de la Couture can actually call themselves as “haute couture” labels. True haute couture gowns would pack a punch when it comes to prices and it is said that they are allegedly sold at a minimum figure of $120,000 to $160,000 for the most elaborately embellished gowns! The maximum price? Well, the sky’s the limit!

Diana Harkusha in Zuhair Murad, Miss Universe 2014 – this deep raspberry pink Zuhair Murad gown was part of the Lebanese designer’s Fall-Winter 2014 haute couture collection. It features a sweetheart neckline with a dramatically draped train using silk organza. The bodice is boned and hand-embellished with a darker colored beadwork. She is one of the only two European candidates that year to wear a haute couture gown in the pageant.

Valerie Abou Chacra in Zuhair Murad, Miss Universe 2015 -Valerie wore a Zuhair Murad couture piece twice for each of her pageant competitions. She first wore a white & silver beaded gown at the Miss Lebanon finals, and a second white & nude colored gown for Miss World 2015 in Sanya, China.

Olivia Culpo in Georges Hobeika, Miss Universe 2012 – Olivia was such a pioneer in pageants as she became the first woman to wear a haute couture gown for the Miss Universe finals back in 2012. The raspberry confection from the Lebanese designer was first shown in the Paris Haute Couture Week in July of 2012. Georges Hobeika’s couture collection tells of a “mystical tale of fairies in a valley of dreams, harmonizing the romance of a fairy tale with the passion of a love story”.

Yulia Alipova in Ellie Saab, Miss Universe 2014 – Yulia Alipova  shocked the pageant world when she wore not one but two Ellie Saab gowns in the 2014 Miss Universe pageant in Doral, Miami. Ellie Saab shot to worldwide fame when his burgundy gown was worn by Halle Berry when she won the Oscar’s Best Actress in 2002. The preliminary gown that Yulia wore was a deep wine colored gown and paired with some Bulgari looking earrings (this is not yet confirmed). This was a gown that made us gasp in awe during our coverage of the MU2014 prelims.

Yulia Alipova in Ellie Saab, Miss Universe 2014 – rumor has it that this gown is approximately between $150,000 to $175,000! And we all would have loved seeing it in the finals! For those like us in the audience that night, we’ve spotted Yulia wearing this Ellie Saab number at the background during the announcement of winners. The gown was truly exceptional with the ombre effect on the lace and jacquard dress. Not to mention the additional beadwork that has to go into the piece. It would not be surprising if the entire gown would have taken over 5,000 hours to make. Haute couture pieces are mostly done by hand and only a number of structural seams are allowed to be finished using a sewing machine. So it makes sense that this Ellie Saab number could whop a huge amount in the price department!

5 Binibining Pilipinas Gowns to Recycle

Of all the beautiful gowns worn by our Filipina reps in international pageants from the past 30 years, these are the 5 Binibining Pilipinas gowns that can still be worn today.

The concept of recycling gowns for international pageants is a huge No-no for Filipino pageant fans, however there are some pageant gowns that can still be worn today and not look dated. These are our picks from the gowns previously worn by former Binibining Pilipinas in various international competitions…

  1. Miriam Quiambao’s Halston Gown – while the original white and powder blue ombre is lost, there exists a nude copy of that gown that Michelle Reyes wore for Miss Tourism World 2002. In fact even Karen Loren Agustin wore it for her Miss Universe portrait. All it needed is to be updated and re-beaded to look more modern.
  2. Katherine Manalo’s Barraza gown – this midnight blue gown with beaded black tulle flounced overlay is one of the Colombian designer’s best works for a Filipina candidate. The design was very classy and it complimented Kate’s curves in the 2002 Miss World edition.
  3. Lia Andrea Ramos’ midnight blue gown – although similar in cut with Kate’s gown, this gown is a little bit simpler but the ombre effect of the silver, blue and black beadwork would look gorgeous in motion. Lia wore this gown for the evening gown portraits and IMHO would have been a better option for the prelims than the white gown she wore.
  4. Karla Bautista’s Barraza gown – the aurora borealis inspired gown is arguably the best gown that Alfredo lent to a Filipina rep. The gown was worn by a Miss Colombia runner up but that doesn’t remove the fact that it glittered in motion and photographs hardly do justice to how it looked onstage. The good thing about this gown is that because of the crystal embellishments, it will sparkle even when not in motion. Hence it would be very attention grabbing.
  5. Carlene Aguilar’s Barraza gowns – (MW2005 ice-blue gown) it is said that this gown was inspired by ocean waves or the glimmering ripples of ocean waves. The design itself is a beautiful one but the material could be better. It does however look well in motion with the ice blue color and the white crystals on the gown’s bodice. (Red MW portrait gown) This Barraza creation is sexy and timeless. This gown was first used by a Senorita Colombia candidate that Barraza dressed up. The photo was taken during Carlene’s training in Colombia.

We would also like to mention that the pink and gold/ orange gown worn by Anna Maris Igpit would be a runner up to this list. The only drawback to that gown is its color combination that may look dated nowadays.

What do you think of this list? Is there any other gown from the past thirty years that you’d like to see again? Let us know on the comments below…

Philippines’ Best in National Costume Wins

Not known to many pageant fans, the Philippines has won the Best in National Costume award in the Miss International, Miss Earth and Miss Universe pageants. This is the list of the Filipinas who won the coveted special award.

For a Clothing Technology graduate like yours truly, the national costume is one of our favorite aspects of pageantry. And our fascination is specially peaked by the Philippine national costumes worn in the different international pageants. The reason perhaps is of course due to a semester studying all about the development of the Philippine costumes.


Before we proceed, let it be known that among the four biggest international pageants in existence, only the Miss World pageant does not award the Best in National Costume consistently. In fact it has only awarded that only twice or thrice in its 60+ year history. It is interesting to note, however, that in 1972 Filipina Onelia Jose won the award for “Most Original Gown” in the Miss World pageant. Several pageant fans have wrongly attributed it as a Best in National Costume win. The Philippines have won the costume award in the Miss International, Miss Earth and Miss Universe pageants at least once.

Filipina Best in National Costume winners (L-R): Dolores Ascalon, Melanie Marquez and Yolanda Dominguez

  • Yolanda Dominguez, MI 1972 – aside from winning 2nd runner up in the 1972 Miss International pageant, Yogi also was the first ever recipient of the “Miss Costume” award in the Tokyo-based pageant. Unfortunately, there are not much available resources on the material and make of Yogi’s award winning terno. The 5’5” raven-haired lass received a plaque for winning Best in National Costume.
  • Maria Dolores Ascalon, MI 1976 – just like Yogi’s costume, there are not enough resources for Dolores’ national costume except for the fact that it was another Philippine terno that won the award. This was the second of three instances that the Philippines won this award in the MI pageant.
  • Mimilanie Marquez, MI 1979 – Miss International 1979 surely knows how to grab attention with her 5’11” frame. Melanie wore a Renee Salud terno made from red tulle and sequins. Her red terno was decked fully with sequins with a tulle skirt and stole. So far we do not have any colored images of Melanie in her costume but you can see glimpse of her national costume on the 2:24 mark on the YouTube video below.
  • Charlene Gonzales, MU 1994 – the T’boli and Manobo inspired costume in gold and bronze was a creation of the late Pitoy Moreno. The ensemble features a Manobo blouson top and headress. The skirt and blouse was embellished with T’nalak panels and adorned with T’boli brass bells. The headdress is also fitted with brass bells. A beaded T’boli/ B’laan belt with tiny brass bells completes the ensemble. This costume would have made noise as it is paraded and would certainly be an attention grabber.

  • Karen Ibasco, ME 2017 – this Maria Clara costume is the recipient for the gold medal for the national costume for Asia Pacific. It is the only costume in this list that wasn’t named as the only best costume during its year. Designed by Louie Pangilinan, this intricately printed and embroidered piece is inspired by the various stained glass windows seen in Catholic Cathedrals in the country. What made it more striking is the way the black bodice seems to make the stained glass print looks like it is illuminated from the back.
  • Gazini Ganados, MU 2019 – the Philippine Eagle inspired national costume is a masterpiece by Cebuano master couturier, Cary Santiago. The headpiece frames Gazini’s face while she mimicked how the eagle moves its head. Laser cut feathers adorn the gown with a back ‘peacock extension’. The extension fans out like an eagle’s tail feathers when the wearer raises her hand. On the shoulder of the ensemble sits two majestic Philippine Eagles. Surprisingly, not a single feather was used to create this costume, all are made from fabric.

Looking at our record, it seems that the Philippine terno is the ‘winning-est’ national costume we have. All three Best in National Costume wins in Miss International features the Philippine terno. Interesting to note that aside from Karen Ibasco’s Maria Clara costume, the other notable Maria Clara costume used in pageants was that of Zorayda Ruth Andam’s at the 2001  Miss Universe in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Aside from these on the list, which other national costumes do you think should have won best national costume in their respective international competitions?

The Miss Universe Evening Gown Top-Scorers

Today’s post in about the 10 Miss Universe candidates who nabbed the highest televised scores in the pageant final’s evening gown competition.


Back in 2015, on my old Sash Factor blog, I wrote a number of  interesting articles on the  Miss Universe pageant. One of the most fascinating researches we ever made was to track down the highest swimsuit and evening gown scorers in the Miss Universe competition. We posted this several years back and now we are revisiting this topic today.

Note that these scores were taken when the telecast would flash the scores of the girls onscreen, something that was taken out during the 2000’s.

10. Lana Buchberger, Canada

9. Verna Vasquez, Curacao

8. Sushmita Sen, India

7. Paula Andrea Betancourt, Colombia

6. Angela Visser, Netherlands

5. Taliana Vargas, Colombia

4. Wendy Fitzwilliams, Trinidad & Tobago

3. Minorka Mercado, Venezuela

2. Alicia Machado, Venezuela

1. Carolina Gomez, Colombia

Did your favorite girl/s made the list? Was there a candidate that you were surprised to earn top scores in the Miss Universe pageant? Let us know on the comment section below.

We’re working on the top-scorers for the swimsuit competition next. So watch our for that.

Year-End Special: The Most Memorable Miss Universe Gowns of the Decade

This decade has seen a number of gorgeous gowns worn in the Miss Universe pageant. But these are the ones that stood out the most!

Today we will bring out the fashionista in this pageant blogger. Being the fashion industry since graduation (I took up Clothing Technology from the University of the Philippines so that is where the fashion aspect comes in) I always loved the evening gown competition of any pageant. It was through pageants that I got my first taste of fashion, which later translated to a career in the industry.
So it is no surprise that our list of the best in the decade is populated by fashion choices from someone who has actual industry experience, locally and internationally. And this is our best-10-list of pageant gowns of the decade…
Continue reading “Year-End Special: The Most Memorable Miss Universe Gowns of the Decade”

The Most Memorable Miss Universe National Costumes of the Past Decade

The national costumes is perhaps one of the most festive aspects of the Miss Universe pageant. This segment of the competition is likened to a quick trip around the world in just minutes.

For a number of pageant fans, this is one of the most awaited portions of the pageant. While it no longer is a part of the finals night telecast of the pageant, it still remains a fan favorite.
Before we proceed to the list, let us first mention that these are personal picks of this blogger. Some of these costumes have won the Best National Costume award while some we’ve seen in person and in motion. This list But one thing is for sure, they all looked spectacular.

Continue reading “The Most Memorable Miss Universe National Costumes of the Past Decade”

Gazini and her Cary Santiago Finals Gown

This was supposed to be her finals gown! You heard that right. Here are several interesting stories behind Miss Universe Philippines, Gazini Ganados’ Cary Santiago gold gown…

Earlier in November, we all heard rumors that the Miss Universe organization gave a new directive that the preliminary gowns will also be the candidates’ final telecast gowns. Well, that was if the Miss Universe organization stuck with their that decision. This was never okay, however,  with some of the National Directors as well as candidates. Rumor has it that several ND’s were vocal in verbalizing their disapproval during the National Directors’ Dinner. And of course they should be vocal about this as the Miss Universe organization has some of the highest franchise fees around. So rumor has it that Miss Universe Org President, Paula Shugart, had caved in due to the incessant requests from the NDs.

When we had a #chichiAndChaah date with Tita Lavinia, we touched into this. And the gold gown was indeed to be Gazini’s finals gown. IMHO, I think it was a great choice to have this gold gown used during the prelims because it made her shine in the EG competition. If she wore her red gown, it wouldn’t make much of an impact in a field of 90 ladies. So for me at least, it was a good happenstance that Gazini wore this in the prelims so that we saw it in action.

So since the gold gown have already been worn, her next best option was to wear the red phoenix gown by Cary Santiago. Had Gazini made top 10 and had this on the evening gown competition, she would have stood out among the ladies in the top 10 with her intricate red gown without any trace of beadwork. It would have stood out just like how Oxana’s white tent gown (coincidentally with no beadwork as well) stood out in a roster of heavily embellished gowns.

But that is not the end of it! We were told another rumor from one of the people who was in the final dress rehearsals that an eventual runner up in the pageant changed gowns and wore her prelims gown because she saw Gazini wearing red. Another one of those in the VIP section saw that said candidate had a quick talk with her ND and heard in passing that they were discussing gown colors. We’re not saying the rumors are 100 true but it goes to show that people are willing to change plans based on what they see from our girls.

According to our pageant friends, haute couturier Cary Santiago created 4 lovely gowns for Gazini to select from. It is said that aside from the gold and the red, the designer also created a lovely silver gown for Gazini.
Now our only hope is that Sir Cary Santiago, Mama Jonas Borces, Sirs Gio and Rodgil Flores would have Gazini take a photoshoot in these evening gowns for the pageant fans to enjoy…

Sashes&Scripts’ Picks for the Best National Costume

With just mere 10 days for this year’s Miss Universe pageant, we have a limited time to cover all of our usual MU coverage. One of the casualties is our selection of the most beautiful costumes in the pageant.

Technically, this post is written December 8th, but it was too close in proximity to the finals. So we decided to postpone publishing our list until after the pageant is done. Before we proceed, these picks are our personal picks based on visual impact and understanding of what these costume stand for. Here are our picks for the best national costumes in this year’s pageant:

5. Mariana Varela, ARGENTINA – The last time we saw the Iguazu Falls as inspiration for a national costume was back in 2014. It was spectacular then, it still is now. While Mariana’s costume doesn’t hold a candle to the 2014 worn by Valentina Ferrer, it still is as spectacular.
4. Madison Anderson, PUERTO RICO – if you want showgirl type of costumes, then this one is for you. The frog and the hibiscus flower costume is grandiose and shows the Caribbean flavor from the enchanted island.

3. Lee Yeon-joo, KOREA – what is truly amazing with this national costume is that is  great representation of actual traditional wear. It isn’t costume-y just to shock and awe, it is actually very deeply rooted to the country.
2. Shweta Sekhon, MALAYSIA – the entire get-up is a tribute to the Malay, Chinese and Peranakan culture. The costume tries to represent the diverse culture of Malaysia being a sort of melting pot of peoples.
1. Gazini Ganados, PHILIPPINES – this was a garb fit for a goddess.  Inspired by the Philippine Eagle, this ensemble is a haute couture masterpiece. It was modern, it was trés chic, it was haute couture at its finest. It didn’t hurt that the costume showcased the gorgeous face of its wearer and that no bird was harmed in making of the costume as everything was made from fabric!

UPDATED (12/09/2019, 6pm) – Who would have thought that our top pick actually won the national costume award? It may have been a delayed announcement of the win but still a major win nevertheless…

Do you agree with our choices? Let us know what you think of our choices in the comments below…

A Soaring Wardrobe for Miss Universe Philippines Gazini Ganados

Miss Universe Philippines Gazini Ganados will perhaps become the most fashionable Filipina rep to the Miss Universe pageant in years! Not convinced? Just look at her wardrobes so far…

The Kagandahang Flores trained beauty is working with not one, not two but four styling teams for her Miss Universe wardrobe. Thanks to Binibining Pilipinas, the Miss Universe Philippines org and a bevy of other people helping her, she will by far be the only Filipina rep to do so. And from what we are privy to her pageant wardrobe, we can assure you that it will soar like the Philippine Eagle.
Continue reading “A Soaring Wardrobe for Miss Universe Philippines Gazini Ganados”

#Funart Post: Valerie Weigmann as Alice

Thank God for small miracles! We’ve mentioned that almost all of our blogposts starting from 2014 to 2015 is lost when the original Sash Factor forum shut down. Apparently, some of the fun-art hardwork I’ve made managed to survive through Facebook archives.

And one my personal favorite fun-art posters I’ve made were those Alice in Wonderland themed ones for Miss World Philippines 2014 Valerie Weigmann. And two Alice in Wonderland themed posters were some of the posters I was able to retrieve!
It is no secret that among the Miss World Philippines winners, Valerie was and still is my favorite. The last time I saw her in Bangkok last December 2018, she still looked so radiant as the day she was crowned MWP. She has managed not to age in the 5 years since she competed to the time where the franchise was still under Cory Quirino! How time flies indeed.

We hope that you’ll allow us to feel a bit nostalgic with this post. After all, some of our best blogposts were written in our old blogsite – sashfactor.info/sashesandscripts
Seeing that some of our artworks survive has been one of our truest joys lately…

#FunArt: Jamie Herrel with the Beast

Our Miss Earth 2014, Jamie Herrell is such a lovely lady to be featured in a number of fun-art features that were almost lost in our old blogsite. Luckily we were able to salvage several photo-manipulation features on this lovely Cebuana.

Remakes have been a a trend in movies nowadays. The live action Disney movie, Beauty and the Beast, has gotten online buzz even back in 2016… and while the movie was yet to come in 2017, it gathered interest with the news that all of Disney’s animated features will be getting a live action remake from Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty (Maleficent movie), Alladin, The Lion Kind, etc… In that vein here is Miss Earth 2014 Jamie Herrel in a #FunArt from the French film version, La Belle et Bete.

We also have a couple more fun-art of Jamie as Red Riding Hood and Cinderella but we’ll post those a little later…

Creative Vision: The Making of a National Costume

The national costume has got to be my favorite part in any pageant wardrobe. I get more excited with the lavishness and grandiosity of seeing our culture represented in a garb than seeing sneak peeks of one’s evening gown.

In 2017, I had the privilege to be asked to create a concept art for Charmaine Elima’s national costume. The idea then was to capitalize on her dusky morena skin with a Nuestra Senora La Naval inspired national costume as brainstormed with her uncle Larry Elima.  One that pays homage to the Filipinos love and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the costume has since then set a barrage of Santacruzan/ Virgin Mary inspired costumes in various national pageants. Even Emma Tiglao’s winning national costume was inspired by 3 queens of the Santacruza: Fe, Caridad & Esperanza…owing to three Catholic concepts of Faith, Hope and Charity. Charmaine’s costume may not have won best national costume but it did create buzz around the candidate who wore it. That costume created waves among pageant fans and that was always the goal.  Which is the point of today’s blogpost: a focus on the national costume and how it should be designed and executed.
Whenever I am doing a national costume re-imagining or asked to create a concept design, I only have two considerations: 1) it should feel and look AUTHENTIC to the Filipino culture and 2) it should create DRAMA and IMPACT.
Authenticity is a hard thing to do nowadays with a number of national costumes in pageants. When I did the concept art for Valerie’s costume for Dances of the World for Miss World 2014, it did receive some flak on the usage of the color blue instead of the traditional black and red of the T’boli tribe. Nobody knew that the costume was actually a Blit Blaan costume, a dance from the B’laan tribe which uses navy, blue and white with other colors in their wardrobe. There is a lot of misinformation that could happen based on Filipinos limited knowledge of our own culture which is the point of research to make it feel authentic. Digging deep into the culture and iconography of clothing and how it is affected by culture is a must. Research is key.

Take into account the recent Maranao costume of Catriona Gray. A number of pageant fans assumed that it was a Singkil costume (perhaps owing to the fact that it’s the most popular Marano dance). Others had actually went to post online the inaccuracy of the parasol saying that the princess in the singkil dance only holds the apir fans and the parasol was to be held by her handmaiden (it is noteworthy to mention that the position of a handmaiden in court is reserved for the noble families not for slaves). The costume however pays homage to a less popular Maranao dance called the Kinakulangan where maidens would hold parasols and handkerchiefs as they dance. I had a long discussion with Catriona’s mentor, Carlos Buendia,  about the malong whether or not we should still incorporate it. In most Singkil dances the princess actually isn’t required to wear it, although we kept it in the concept art for illustration purposes. Actual research has to back up every design to reinforce being authentic. It is the only way to be respectful to the culture that the costume is representing.

The Original Concept Art of the national costume…

There is also the aspect of impact and high-drama. Every costume needs to have visual impact for it to stand out among a sea of costumes. Whether it was the bells of the B’laan costume of Valerie, the body-tattoos of the Pintados costume of Mary Ann Ross Misa (this was later worn by Danielle Dolk in the national costume show for Binibining Pilipinas 2019), the religious connotations of Charmaine’s terno or the Sarimanok atop Catriona’s parasol…there has to be a focal point that gives the wow factor. There has to be that element that ties everything together without sacrificing the overall impact of the entire look.

When you put these two elements together, you get a memorable costume. Authenticity and Impact.

The Best Gowns of Binibining Pilipinas 2019

It’s gown review time! Let’s share with you 10 of the best gowns during the Binibining Pilipinas 2019 coronation night!
After Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray’s leg baring gown in both Binibining Pilipinas and Miss Universe pageants, it seems that everyone was so keen to show some leg! It is no surprise however that it is those who stood out with their own personal style that we included in this list.

Without further a do, here are our 10 best dressed ladies during the Binibining Pilipinas coronation night!
10. Jessarie Dumaguing in Jose Buzeta – no earrings for the evening gown? No problem if you had a face like that of Jessarie’s. She shone just fine in this sparkly white gown with strategically placed ostrich feathers on the hem. She looked like she was floating in the clouds.
9. Joanna Tolledo in Sony-Boy Mendo– This is the goddess gown that any pageant girl would kill for! It had the Minorka mercado-Joyce Giraud pageant feels to it without looking dated. Joanna’s dusky complexion complimented this draped gown with very interesting beadwork patterns.
8. Samantha Lo in Rau Uson – this illussion creating gown suited the boxy body shape of Samantha Lo and this should be her trademark style. Adding more to the overall impact was the soft waves framing SamLo’s face. This gown reminds me of the 1996 Inno Sotto gown worn by Yedda Marie Mendoza in pink with black bows. Stunning!

7. Leren Bautista in Chico Estiva – after 2017 I thought I have had enough of fringes but this white and ice blue gown Leren wore made me think twice. She styled it with a classy pulled back hair and she looked amazing in it.
6. Anne Curtis in Michael Cinco – if there was one M5 gown that shook fashionista fans of the pageant, this was it. Anne overdid the big, blue, bold and brazen gown and we certainly love her for doing so. It was the perfect gown to open a show!

5. Nicole Cordoves in Louis Pangilinan – it had the frills, it had the volume but more importantly it had Nicole wearing it with a cute ponytail. Nicole carried this cotton candy confection that reminded us of the voluminous tulle haute couture dresses by Giambattista Valli. Nicole pumped enough youthful vibes into the dress.
4. Isabela Galeria in Mark Bumgarner – class and sophistication by the handful! Actress Heart Evangelista commissioned this Mark Bumgarner gown for Isabela and she looked ravishing in it. That gold belt was a trademark styling trick by the designer and it is perhaps one of the classiest gown in the evening.

3. Catriona Gray in Mak Tumang – the Waling-waling orchid inspired gown was a magnificent closing to Catriona’s Binibining Pilipinas journey. Though we would have wanted to see her Sinag gown by Mak once again during the finals night, Catriona nevertheless continued to pay homage to the country’s icons and symbols in her wardrobe.
2. Jehza Huelar in Cary Santiago – this outfit was meant for Paris haute couture week during the months of January and June! And Jehza nailed this look with very little effort. She was so at ease in this gown! The newly-wed queen didn’t get lost in this very striking gown and carried it at the same level of intensity as the gown elevated her. The steel gray gown with 3D parrot embellishments on the shoulders could easily overwhelm any wearer but Jehza’s stature commanded attention to her, not just to her gown.

1. Gazini Ganados in Cary Santiago – she was the scene-stealer in the evening gown competition with the way she carried her fuchsia pink gown. By then, she cemented herself as the frontrunner and would end up with one of the crowns. It was devoid of any sparkles but it had impact with its almost violent pink hue, Gazini brought out the drama in her presentation and together it was a lethal combination that she deserved winning the Best in Evening Gown award.

To say that Cary Santiago was the winner of the night was an understatement. His creations were the ones that truly popped out in a sea of sparkling and shimmering gowns.
How about you? Which gowns were your best gown picks?

BBP2019 National Costume Faves

This year there were a couple of Urdujas, a number of Pintados, a handful of Maranao princesses, lots of Santacruzan-inspired costumes and a whole lot of dance moves on the Binibining Pilipinas national costume stage.

Before we get to the main part, I would have to say that a number of national costume presentation were a major copycat of Catriona Gray’s Best in National Costume winning performance last year. Everybody had to do  some dance moves that it was painful to see some ‘inauthentic’ dance steps just to get it on with the trend. Even those that were reportedly ones who bashed Catriona last year had their mentees doing dances for the national costumes. Ayy Caramba!
After my involvement with Catriona’s BBP national costume, I have to say that the experience elevated my taste on what I would look for in a national costume. I was looking for something reflective of not just culture but also taste and execution… Which one really stood out? These are our top 5 list:
5. Ilene de Vera – this should have made top 10 in the best costumes category. The pintados-slash-gitara costume strongly represent her province of Cebu. It also complimented Ilene’s statuesque frame of 5’9″ tall. Only someone that tall could carry the gargantuan extension at the back without looking minuscule herself.

4. Hannah Arnold – never-mind the knock-off comparisons with an Indonesian costume, even without the banga on the train this costume was superb. I personally would have preferred it if the extra bang were taken out as it adds nothing different from the costume itself. It actually distracts from how well executed the costume is. This Banga costume is among the three that I would say has the biggest chances of winning the best in national costume award.

3.  Emma Tiglao – love this costume to bits! And while the gold and white terno looked divine,  it was Emma’s serenely beauty that elevated it to higher levels. She was poise and class personified in this costume, the costume in itself was magnificent in its grandeur.The perfect girl to carry this perfect costume…IMHO this costume is of international competition levels.

2. Honey Grace Cartasano – this ‘suman’ inspired national costume was my personal favorite that night. Nevermind that it maybe a design that the traditionalists would raise their eyebrows on, this costume was genius! While some are put off with the head-piece, I think it compliments the entire get up as this is reminiscent of the drooping silhouette of the banana leaves used to cover up the suman. It was unique and it gave people something to talk about. And that is what I believe to be a hallmark of an effective costume.

1. Jessarie Dumaguing – among the national costumes in the top 10, this one is the most ‘alta’. I think this costume should win the best in national costume award simply because of how Jessarie carried it off! With just a graceful flick of her hands the peacock extension of her gown rises in the same graceful manner. It is not very fancy but it is very effective. Add to it is the fact that the Palawan Peacock Pheasant has the same gray-blue plumage that is as striking as Jessarie herself.

Overall the costumes this year was an improvement on the costumes from the recent pageant past. And I have high hopes that this level of costumes will be brought to the international stage during the international pageant season.
Don’t forget to vote for you pick for the best in national costume on the Binibining Pilipinas website!