The Philippines' Michelle Dee honored her mother, former beauty queen Melanie Marquez, at the recent 72nd Miss Universe preliminary competition.
During the evening gown segment held in El Salvador on Nov. 16, the 28-year-old model and actress made her way to the stage wearing an emerald green Swarovski-encrusted cut-out gown by Mark Bumgarner, the same designer who made her winning black gown at the Miss Universe Philippines 2023 in January.
Talking to PhilSTAR L!fe, her stylist Ryuji Shiomitsu said Michelle wanted to veer away from the typical pageant gowns.
"The first directive I got from MMD is to serve FASHION WEEK. She wants a variety of looks that you wouldn't really expect in pageantry," he said.
Michelle also told Vogue Philippines that it's not her personality to wear "Pageant Patty" dresses—think: sparkly, heavily beaded, and sheer dresses.
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"It doesn’t really resonate with my personality. I have nothing against beauty queens and anyone who joins beauty pageants. It’s just, this year, I really vowed to show my authentic self—make sure that that personality of mine shines,” she said.
For the color, she chose green for two reasons: it was her mom's lucky color (she wore a glittering green strapless gown during the Miss International 1979 finale), and it's the color of her advocacy of autism awareness through the organization Autism Society Philippines.
"It's a joy working with someone who is sure of herself, a perfectionist, and knows what she wants, that it makes it easy to bring out the best. It is a reflection of the wardrobe she has now in Miss Universe. It's simply perfect for her," Ryuji told L!fe, who also said that Mark and his team "worked tirelessly until the last minute to finish the gowns."
The preliminary competition also saw Michelle work her stuff in a fiery red swimsuit by Rubin Singer. Later in the competition, she was also named as one of the 10 Silver Finalists for the Voice for Change.
Michelle recently topped the voting of "Voice for Change" of Miss Universe 2023. However, the Miss Universe Philippines organization is calling for support to make sure Michelle stays in the No. 1 spot in the Miss Universe Fan Vote.
The 72nd Miss Universe finals night will be aired and streamed live on A2Z Channel 11, Kapamilya Channel, Metro Channel, and iWantTFC, on Sunday, November 19, at 9 a.m. (Philippine time).
Same-day replays will be available at 9:30 p.m. on A2Z, Kapamilya Channel via Sunday’s Best, Metro Channel and iWantTFC. Replays will also be aired later in the week on the Metro Channel.