MU, MW and MI: The Heritage Brands of Pageantry

When we speak of luxury heritage brands in fashion, we speak of the history, craftsmanship and tradition of long withstanding brands like Louis Vuitton, Hermés, Chanel, Dior or TAG Heuer. Some of these brands have been in existence since the 1850’s to the 1950’s and carries with them a sense of timelessness and longevity. For international pageants, only three has come close to be called such: Miss World, Miss Universe and Miss International. Among the most popular international pageants, these three has withstood the test of time being in existence for at least 50 years. We can actually nickname Miss World is the Hermes of pageantry, Miss International is Chanel and Miss Universe is Dior.

Technically, the Miss Universe pageant is the oldest international pageant title in existence. Did you know that in 1926, there used to be Miss Universe pageant organized by the International Pageant of Pulchritude? This existed until 1935 and was based in Galveston, Texas. The first Miss Universe Pageant that we now know of was held in Long Beach, California in 1952 by Pacific Knitting Mills, manufacturer of Catalina Swimwear. The pageant was first televised in 1955.  In 1998, Miss Universe, Inc. changed its name to Miss Universe Organization after Donald Trump acquired the pageant. It moved its headquarters from California to New York City in the same year.

Did you know that the Miss World got it name not from the organizers of the pageant but from the press that covered the competition? The first pageant was organized by founder Eric Morley and called it Festival Bikini Contest as it was held at the Festival of Britain celebration held in 1951. The name Miss World stuck to the pageant and was used since then. The first pageant gathered 26 contestants with 10 coming from Great Britain. In 1959, the British Broadcasting Corporation started televising the pageant. And it 1980, the Beauty with a Purpose re-branded the pageant, although the pageant stopped being broadcast in Britain in the year 1988.

Since 1972, the Miss International pageant has been primarily held in Japan, although it traces its roots in Long Beach, California. The pageant was first held in 1960 which saw Stella Marquez besting 51 others for the title. The pageant ownership have changed since moving to Japan and was called Japan Beauty Congress Association. It was in 1975 when the organization was finally renamed International Cultural Association which has remained to this day.
High voltage prestige, being timeless and a long history is one of the key elements to be called a luxury heritage brand. something that the three oldest pageants in the earth could easily boast of. But its not just those that makes these three pageants heritage brands, it is their commitment to their causes that continuously makes them some of the most relevant competitions around.


Miss Earth isn’t included in the list as ME is comparatively too young. The Miss Universe, Miss World & Miss International pageants has been in existence for at least 50 years.


Nostalgia: Jacqueline Aguilera, Alicia Machado & Consuelo Adler

I have earlier written about countries that have managed to win major crowns in consecutive years. One particular country that have achieved that was Venezuela. One particular set of wins that stood out were those of Jacqueline Aguilera Marcano, Alicia Machado and Consuelo Adler who won Miss World 199, Miss Universe 1996 and Miss International 1997 respectively.

Jacqueline, Alicia and Consuelo were the second set of ladies coming from a single country to have won all of the 3 Alpha pageants back then? Of course, the Miss Earth wasn’t included as it started only in 2001. But these three ladies did something that only Astrid Carolina Herrera, Nina Sicilia and Barbara Palacios Teyde was able to achieve. And guess what, they also came from Venezuela!

But These three girls also have one thing in common… they all are recipients of the Miss Photogenic award. Jacqueline won the photogenic award during the Miss World pageant. Alicia was Miss Photogenic during the Miss Venezuela 1995 pageant. But it is Consuelo who is the most photogenic of them all as she won the award both in Miss Venezuela 1996 pageant as well as in Miss International 1997. In terms of height though, Alicia is the shortest of them at 5’8″. Both Consuelo and Jacqueline towers at 5’11” tall. 

Nostalgia – Martina Thorogood, Miss Venezuela 1999

Considered to be the best Miss Venezuela that Osmel Sousa has ever produced, Martina Thorogood Hemseem is a beauty in a league of her own.
Martina was a student of International Relations and Latin American Studies at the Lake Forrest Collage in Illinois. She was bi-lingual being able to speak fluent English and Spanish. The 5’9 1/2″ brown eyed brunette became Miss Venezuela 1999.

There are a lot of other beauty queens that were compared to this beauty who represented Miranda in MV but none IMHO comes close to her… not even fellow Venezuelan and Miss World titlist, Jacqueline Aguilera Marcano or Carolina Izsak… Jacqueline’s beauty is awe-inspiring yet intimidating and while Carolina’s beauty seems to be cold and distant, Martina’s brand of beauty is both strong and magnetic.
If one was to describe Martina, the most common words people would describe her would be magnetic, enigmatic, perfection… To call her Osmel’s best creation would be an understatement. In fact it is rumored that Osmel doctored her age from 27 to 24, a debate that until now is still on the minds of beauty pageant aficionados. This might have a grain of truth as Osmel has made modifications in age and even nationality for some of his queens previously. Whether this rumor has an iota of truth or not, it just added to Martina’s enigmatic appeal and charisma. 
Due to the consecutive non-placements in Ms World in 1997 and 1998, Osmel decided to have Martina represent Venezuela in both international pageants: Miss World and Miss Universe. It was evident then that Julia and Eric will not put a Venezuelan beauty queen in the semi-finals until Osmel sends his best girl to the said pageant. This was a gamble on his part that would later bring dire consequences to the beauty Czar. Martina ended up as 1st princess to Yukta Mookhey.

Pageant fans over the world were disheartened when MUO disallowed her to compete the following year. Her entry was denied by the Miss Universe Organization because she was the 1st Princess in Miss World and there was a chance that she could assume the title should the winner resign or lose her crown. I remember being shell-shocked when I heard the news. Miss Universe 2000 would have been her vindication from the robbery that was Miss World 1999.
After her reign, Martina opted to have a quiet family life and was blessed with it…

Nostalgia: Precious Lara Quigaman’s Miss International Speech

Back in 2005, when the internet didn’t move in the speed of light to do fact-checking, Miss International 2005 Precious Lara Quigaman’s speech became an internet sensation for it being a fabricated hoax. Today we take a look back on those two speeches.

The hoax speech: “I take no offense on being typecasted as a nanny. But I do take offense that the educated people of the world have somehow denegrated the true sense and meaning of what a nanny is. Let me tell you what she is. She is someone who gives more than she takes. She is someone you trust to look after the very people most precious to you – your child, the elderly, yourself. She is the one who has made a living out of caring and loving other people. So to those who have typecasted us as nannies, Thank you. It is a testament to the loving and caring culture of the Filipino people. And for that, I am forever proud and grateful of my roots and culture.”

The actual speech: “Here in Miss International our main mission is to promote peace and goodwill, right? And if given the wonderful opportunity to be Miss International I would organize fundraising events that would benefit less fortunate children from all over the world, focusing on free education and improving their quality of life. In this way we are teaching our youngsters that there is hope for them. And we not only develop friendship among countries but we are also making way to a brighter future, because I have always believed that our hope and our future lies in the children. Thank you very much.”

While both speeches are actually quite good, it was the latter that helped Lara win the Mikimoto crown that year. The 5’6″ stunner became the fourth Filipina to win the MI title.

A’94 Retrospect: Sushmita and Aishwarya

These two women are often compared for being competitors in Miss India 1994, and this carried on later when they were both international pageant winners and actresses in their homeland. But looking back at their remarkable careers,  this outside-looking-in perspective on the two women’s pageant careers may define their wins as destiny taking over.

Everybody knew that the Miss India 1994 almost had Aishwarya Rai as a winner until Sushmita Sen’s mother gave her a scolding that would change the course of history. In an interview that Sushmita gave Jessica Soho, she revealed that she almost backed out of the Miss India pageant upon learning that Aishwarya was joining. That would have been a huge mistake as life would have later intervened to have Aishwarya compete in the Miss World. And Sushmita would be written as the only woman who would beat the more popular Aish for the Miss India title. 
A little over two decades after the two had become successful in their pageant careers, time has changed my perspective on the two ladies. I now see that Sushmita was destined for the Miss Universe just as Aishwarya was meant to be Miss World. Why is that? Aishwarya is the traditional, docile, classy and articulate lass that the MWOrg seems to prefer. Sushmita on the other hand is the brainy, self-assured, fashionable, strong-willed woman that the Miss Universe is looking for in an ambassadress. Aish would follow the long tradition of Indian women winning in Miss World, while Sushmita would be the trailblazer who would open-wide the door for India’s first Miss Universe winner.

Later on in life, they again both defined two different types of motherhood successes. Aish took the traditional route of having a family through marriage. Sushmita on the otherhand has always been a pioneer, and became a mother thru adoption, something unheard of for single women in her country.