A Filipino designer revealed took to social media to recount his “awful experience” working with the Miss Unverse Canada organization.
This is after Dubai-based Filipino designer Michael Cinco slammed the team of Miss Universe Canada team for allegedly saying that he tried to sabotage Canadian delegate Nova Stevens during the 69th Miss Universe pageant last week.
In a Facebook post on Sunday, May 23, designer Rian Fernandez said that his negative experience with the Miss Universe Canada organization “almost cost my life.”
Fernandez said that he has long been collaborating with Denis Martin Davila, the national director of the Miss Universe Canada. Most notably, Miss Universe Canada 2016 Siera Bearchell wore Fernandez’s dress—a white serpentine gown—during the finals of the Miss Universe 2016 pageant, which was held in Manila.
Fernandez said he actually wanted Bearchell to wear a different dress, a brown high-slitted gown with sweetheart bustline. But Davila said Bearchell wanted to wear the white serpentine gown instead, only to learn later that the Canadian beauty queen did not even get to see the brown gown.
Bearchell, who is now a pageant vlogger, mentioned in a May 2020 video that she was not able to choose her Miss Universe 2016 wardrobe, echoing Fernandez’s story that the Miss Universe Canada team chose dresses for her on her behalf.
In the video, Bearchell said she never would have chosen the white serpentine gown.
Fernandez said he was criticized and bashed for the gown Bearchell wore online, though adding that he is now good friends with the Canadian beauty queen.
Fernandez continued to work with the Miss Universe Canada organization for the 2018 edition of the pageant. In 2018, the Miss Universe pageant was held in Thailand.
For this pageant, Fernandez said he made five gowns for 2018 Miss Universe Canada Marta Magdalena Stepien, explaining that he went to Thailand for the fitting of the dresses. “I have shown these gowns to Denis, Marta, before the fitting. They said they were excited,” he said. He and his team also returned to Thailand days after for the Miss Universe pageant to help Mata during the actual competition.
He said “all expenses for my team was shouldered by me!”
“The gowns were made out of love for the reason that Denis promised me that I will get the exposure & media mileage,” Fernandez added.
During the preliminary competition of the pageant, Fernandez found out that Stepien did not wear his gown. Instead, she used a gown by Michael Cinco.
“I have nothing against (Michael Cinco) because he is an icon! My point is, we were promised by Denis that Marta will wear me to the preliminary and final competition because we have a group chat of continuous updates on how the 5 gowns are going,” he explained.
He asked Davila to return the dress “so that other ladies can wear me on the final night, even just for an OOTD on backstage so that people will see the creations that my team & I worked hard for!” But Fernandez said only one of the five gowns was returned “for he promised me that Marta will really wear me for the finals, but you all know that it didn’t happen and Marta still wore (Michael Cinco).”
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He continued, “I was devastated and cried in my hotel room!!! I FELT FRUSTRATED, CHEATED… and I questioned my talent and skill as a designer! Until the stress and anxiety level escalated and I felt half of my body paralyzed. It was the scariest moment of my life.”
“Luckily, there was this supporter of Catriona, a licensed Physical Therapist in Dubai, who helped me. If not, I might not have seen the light of day.”
“After that incident, I never received any explanation or apology from their team. I know that I shouldn’t be counting the cost of that dreadful experience (both financially, mentally & psychologically) because I wanted to be part of Marta’s Miss Universe journey. To sir Michael Cinco’s point, a simple THANK YOU would do! But those 2 simple words that could have eased my anxiety was not even uttered by Denis Martin Davila, Marta Magdalena Stepien and Miss Universe Canada organization.”
In an Instagram post, Bearchell expressed her support for Fernandez, adding that she “does not know much about the current drama because I haven’t been involved with (Miss Universe Canada) for a few years.”
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Fernandez explained he did not speak up about his experience because “I am just a small brand. I was scared that it will boomerang on me.”
He ended his post by saying he has already spoken to Cinco about their experience with Miss Universe Canada.
The Miss Universe Canada organization or Davila both have not addressed the issue publicly. PhilSTAR L!fe have also sent messages to both parties but we have yet to receive a reply as of press time.
Banner photo from Rian Fernandez's Instagram account