While it's almost expected that this year's Miss Universe will turn out to be grand and magnanimous, the real drama - or so it seems based on the fearless designs spotted on stage and the sporadic protests - is this year's Parade of Costumes.
Yes, costume pageant staples like oversized headgears (think Miss Bolivia) and excess feathers (hello Miss Bahamas!) were ominous and ever-present, but a few candidates boldly stepped out in truly artistic, modern and even futuristic interpretations of their nation's costumes.
Unlike in Swimwear or Evening gown segments where one-piece suits or flowing dresses sometimes lack identity or originality, the national costumes, with all its grandeur and glitz, is meant to open the show with a bang.
And this year's costume designers did not disappoint with metallic Samurai-like robes, leaf-applique details, structural highlights, among others. Here's a quick look of what made headlines and, to some, stole the show.
1. Miss China's Cutting-edge Samurai-inspired Robe
If there's one costume that look straight out of Star Trek than Miss Universe, Miss China's futuristic Samurai-inspired robe easily wins the honor. Garbed in a shiny, metallic suit trimmed on the waist with a black band, Miss China exudes futuristic warrior and space-age charm. She appeared strong, undaunted and set for the battle of beauties. Over-the-knee boots and oversized headgear finished off her look, making the overall design twisted enough to be sheer genuis.
2. Miss Mauritius' Eco-conscious costume
For Miss Mauritius, the environment takes centerstage. And she made it apparent in how she sashays on stage with strategically-placed leaf applique that called on the Lady of the Forest as its muse. Miss Mauritius' designer took on a no better and more relevant theme. After all, nature protection has always been a cause strongly supported by the Miss Universe organization. Plus, noticeably since in the past, questions about the environment often plague the dreaded question-and-answer portion. To cap the eco-driven look, the candidate accessorized with a floral-adorned umbrella.
3. Miss Japan's Seductress Geisha Look
While some may agree after seeing her photo here that there's nothing controversial about Miss Japan's costume, the real story was that her national costume earned protests even before the big pageant night. According to reports, the original design revealed her hot fuchsia undies and gartered tights. Protesters argue that the peek-a-boo look was too racy and offensive, forcing Japan's contingent to modify their candidate's costume at the last minute. The silk robe was eventually made longer for more of the needed cover-up, but just enough to still tease and leave a sexy and beautiful geisha imprint on the viewers' mind.
4. Miss Germany's Structural Highlight
There's a reason why Miss Germany easily stood out from a crowd of beauties, not only was she stunning, she was also adorned with a miniature-version of the Bradenburg Gate. An iconic symbol of Berlin and Germany, the Brandeburg Gate is a former city gate made of classical Doric columns. And Miss Germany, dressed in immaculate white dress, stomped on stage with the symbolic landmark for dramatic effect.
5. Miss Peru's "Devil Dance" Costume
Sure it has all the explosion of colors and drama that a Parade of Costume requires, but Miss Peru's costume is not only grand, but also controversial.
According to the Wall Street Journal, this elaborately-embroidered costume is at the center of a diplomatic rift between Peru and Bolivia. Reports said that Bolivia diplomats are not happy about Miss Peru wearing a costume representative of the Devil Dance, which they claim, is a cultural tradition that is of Bolivian-origin, not Peru's.
One very vocal protester is Bolivia's Culture Minister Pablo Groux who in the report said, and to quote, "Peru's imitation is threatening the national brand -- and the tourist industry."
And yet, amidst all these drama, protests and hullabaloo, Miss Universe managed to crown a winner, Venezuelan-beauty Stefania Fernandez. And the rest of the world looked in awe, both at the parade of lavish costumes and at the gathering of international beauties.
Lexington Fashion ExaminerMae Manacap-Johnson