Aside from being crowned Miss Universe Philippines 2023, Michelle Dee won the Best in Evening Gown title during the pageant's recent coronation night.
She has since attributed her success to the Mark Bumgarner-designed number that she thinks help her stood out among the rest of the competition.
"To me, this gown symbolizes that in this life, it's not about always being what everyone expects you to be," Michelle wrote in an Instagram post on May 16.
"It's about having restraint and choosing to stay true to yourself even if it's so much easier to just follow what everyone wants you to be. That in being yourself, you will find people who will believe in and see the potential within you. In choosing to be yourself, you will find enough strength and power to achieve anything you set your mind to," the beauty queen said.
Michelle cited her vision with Mark to have an "evening gown with restraint."
"In pageantry, every queen's goal is to stand out and wow the crowd. One of the best ways to do that is to wear a gown that looks and feels like the 'winning look' for the night, full of anything that would add shimmer, shine, and extravagance," she wrote.
The garment she wore was a minimalist black dress with a cutout, drape, and high slit, as well as accentuated with a silver strap.
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"Mark and I had a different vision. We didn't want to go the typical 'pageant patty' route. We wanted an iconic masterpiece that would bring out my best assets and stay true to who I am: daring, elegant, fierce—and of course in my color, BLACK," Michelle explained.
Meanwhile, the designer couldn't be happier with the outcome of the dress and the Miss Universe Philippines pageant itself, posting: "We took a risk and it paid off."
Mark has also dressed other local beauty queens including Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach, Miss Earth 2015 Angelia Ong, and Miss World Philippines 2017 Laura Lehmann.