The 69th Miss Universe pageant is in full swing!
Starting off with the national costume preliminaries, 74 candidates presented ensembles—some in vibrant colors, others in show-stopping pieces—that showcased their countries’ history, culture or tradition.
The Philippines’ bet Rabiya Mateo, channeling a Victoria’s Secret Angel, wore a Philippine flag-inspired creation by the late fashion designer Rocky Gathercole, completed by the teams of Gathercole and fashion designer Albert Andrada. Click here to know more how you can vote for her in the national costume competition.
Meanwhile, let’s revisit today’s preliminaries with some of the national costumes that left us speechless.
Miss Malaysia Francisca Luhong James’ national costume—complete with a 45-kg. dual-façade house—left viewers in awe.
Francisca paraded on stage in a black-and-white kaftan with a monochrome kampung house in tow (which slightly hit presenter Nick Teplitz). The design of the costume, according to The Star Malaysia, was meant to evoke memories of old childhood drawings.
Much to the viewers’ fancy, Francisca revealed a second look (which took a bit of time to execute) inspired by the sunset and is a nod to her Sarawakian heritage. She came out of the other side of the kampung—a traditional Malay village home—which was replete with coconut trees, chickens and attap roof.
It is not uncommon for candidates to don a national costume with a reveal element, but Miss Vietnam Nguyen Tran Khanh Van’s silk cocoon costume may be one of the most successful in this year’s pageant.
After walking on stage cocooned in a giant hand-knitted shell, Tran broke free of the enclosure and gracefully glided on the runway in a pristine ao dai, Vietnam’s national garb.
Tran’s national costume titled “Ken Em” is an homage to the art of silk weaving, which is deeply rooted in Vietnamese history. The costume walked the viewers through the process of silk weaving—from a cocooned silk worm all the way to an immaculate garment.
According to Tran, the costume was 100 percent made using a meticulous hand-knitting technique, which also symbolizes the virtuous and patient spirit of the Vietnamese people.
Miss Panama Carmen Jaramillo’s maritime-themed national costume was elaborate—which includes half a boat, an anchor and a ship’s wheel—but she glided smoothly on stage.
Her bodysuit is covered in net, seashells and pearls, topped off with an intricate bejeweled headdress.
Carmen’s costume “La Niña, La Pinta and La Santa Maria” was inspired by the Isthmus of Panama, designed to showcase the 500 years of the country’s legends, culture and tradition.
Nepal is home to the world’s highest mountain, Mount Everest, which many mountaineers dream of summiting. Many dream but only a few succeed.
With this, Miss Nepal Ashika Sharma dedicated her national costume to the mountaineers and the sherpas who risk their lives to make people’s dream a reality.
Ashika, who conceptualized the theme of her costume, donned a mountaineering outfit festooned with prayer flags, which are commonly found in Mount Everest’s base camps.
“Every year, the world visits Nepal for its mountains. This year, we take the mountains to the world!” said Ashika, who indeed brought a small version of Mount Everest on stage as part of her costume.
Miss Cameroon Angele Kossinda wore her national costume inspired by her country’s national animal, the lion.
Her ensemble, created by Kennedy John Gasper, a 20-year-old-Filipino fashion student from Isabela, includes a massive lion headdress, two lion heads on her sides and torches that reveal the colors of the Cameroon flag.
Miss Indonesia Ayu Maulida was one with her costume, an elegant Komodo dragon, whose species are endemic to east of Indonesia.
As Ayu walked the runway in a gown complete with a tail, “scales” and a Komodo dragon headdress, she also gestured gracefully, perhaps mimicking how the reptile moves.
Her 3D chest piece and dramatic tail were created using leather lasercutting. All of the beading on Ayu’s gown were handmade, while the metal plates resembling scales were intricately hand-stitched.
According to Puteri Indonesia, the most intricate process of the whole costume was the mechatronics of the Komodo headdress. The costume also features a light up choker and gloves created with an LED controller.
Miss Thailand Amanda Chalisa Obdam sends a message of being a “true fighter” through her national costume inspired by the Siamese fighting fish and a mythical mermaid called Suvannamaccha.
Amanda wore the warrior fish, which is crystallized and gleaming, with fins made of fabric in the colors of the Thai flag—red, white and blue.
The costume came with elaborate accessories that reflect traditional Thai art and the rich culture of Thailand.
Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray picked Thailand’s national costume as one of her Top 6 favorites.