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SASHES AND TIARAS.....Miss Universe 2019 Finals: RECAP + TOP 10 EVENING GOWNS!

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SASHES AND TIARAS.....Miss Universe 2019 Finals: RECAP + TOP 10 EVENING GOWNS!

 Best in Gowns--Miss Universe 2019 Finalists in their Evening Gowns (L to R) Miss Universe Colombia Gabriela Tafur, Miss Universe Thailand Paweensouda Drouin, Miss Universe South Africa Zozibini Tunzi, Miss Universe Puerto Rico Madison Anderson, and Miss Universe 
France Maeva Coucke--Miss Universe 2019 Finals, Atlanta Georgia

Universal Beauty--Zozibinin Tunzi, Miss Universe South Africa is crowned Miss Universe 2019 by outgoing Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray--Miss Universe 2019 Finals, Atlanta Georgia

Last night was the Finals of the 68th Annual Miss Universe contest, held at the Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta Georgia. 90 contestants from all over the world competed and the eventual winner was the stunning Zozibini Tunzi, Miss Universe South Africa.

Zozinini Tunzi, Miss Universe South Africa and new Miss Universe

A front-runner and a favorite from the start, 26-year-old, Zozibini bested the 89 other contestants with her elegance, stature, and intelligent answers. Tunzi has a Bachelor's Degree in public relations from the Cape Pennisula Institute of Technology. Prior to winning her country's title, she was studying to get her Master's in public relations as well. She is the third woman from South Africa to win the Miss Universe title and in case you might be wondering the social media power of becoming Miss Universe...Zozibini's Instagram following jumped to 1.4 MILLION as of last night!

 Miss Universe South Africa Zozibini Tunzi, during the 2019 Miss Universe Finals

Her National Costume--Zozibini Tunzi "Miss Universe South Africa"--Entitled "Waves of Love", this Lloyd Kandlin-designed costume incorporates love letters from South African males to women, as part of Zozibini's support of the #HeForShe campaign. 


Speaking of National Costumes...The 2019 Miss Universe Best National Costume Award went to:
Miss Universe Philippines Gazini Ganados--Designed by Cary Santiago, this stunning silver costume depicts the Philippine Eagle, the national bird of the country. It features laser-cut fabric in feather motifs in a fit-to-flare gown, with back wings, two eagles sitting atop her arms and an outstanding headdress. It is a work of Haute Couture Costume Art! 

Now, it's time to get to the EVENING GOWNS! Let's discuss the Top Ten Semi-Finalists Gowns from the No. 1 to No. 10 favorites...Every gown was beaded so in terms of Trends, there was that, and speaking of trends: "Nude Gowns" are still as HOT as ever...

Let's begin with the Winner of Miss Universe 2019, South Africa's Zozibini Tunzi:
1. Miss Universe South Africa Zozibini Tunzi--The eventual winner of this year's Miss Universe wore this shimmering gown for last night's Evening Gown Competition. The design featured a gold and silver sequined pattern that ended in a "sea" of turquoise toward the hem. The bodice was nude but covered in the appropriate places with coral-like sequin design. In addition, it featured beautifully cowl-draped sequins in long strands framing the top. It was impacting, sexy and fit her perfectly. If there was any critique, I had a couple: The shoulder pads that I could see through the sequins, and  THOSE SHOES; they were distracting and too clunky for that type of gown. I gave it my Top Gown placement even with those bad shoes (I just pretended they were gold non-platform strappy heels).
The dress was by Biji-La Maison de Couture, the same designer/brand that made MY FAVORITE GOWN from the Preliminaries:

White Caped Goddess--Miss Universe South Africa Zozibinin Tunzi, during the Miss Universe 2019 Preliminaries

2. Miss Universe Colombia Gabriela Tafur--My second favorite gown of the night was this gold sequined dress worn by Miss Universe Colombia. This is the same dress she wore for the Preliminaries and was designed by Colombian designer Alfredo Barraza and I was a fan of it then. The dress was THE PERFECT EXAMPLE of a well-made sequined dress. Full Stop. Many contestants tried to wear something on this variation, lots falling a bit short of in showing elegance, red carpet fabulousness or looking rich. This right here covered all those bases, and it fit her to a T.

3. Miss Universe Thailand Fahsai Paweensuda Drouin--At first glance when Paweensuda came out, I was like "Oh No She Didn't!" and "Is that a SEQUINED LEG?!" At first, I was a bit confused with my emotions and thoughts on the gown but now, a day after, I really liked it! Designed by SURFACE Adhit Dhirakittiwat,  the dress (with one sequined leg), was very stage impacting and certainly stood out among the other nine. It was original in its design and featured gorgeous and very elaborate silver crystal beadwork framing the bodice. One could argue that it was two minutes away from being a costume--for a very High Fashion Moulin Rouge perhaps--but on the Miss Universe stage where you get just ONE CHANCE, Paweensuda went for it, and to me, it paid off.

4. Miss Universe Puerto Rico Madison Anderson--Wearing the gold gown by designer Luis Antonio, Miss Universe Puerto Rico sauntered into the Top 5, then the Top Three and eventually, became the 1st Runner-up. She looked like a movie star walking onstage to announce the Best Actor Nominees for the Oscars. I loved the mirrored sequins covering her body, the shape of the dress was perfect and the gold went great with her golden hair.

5. Miss Universe France Maeva Coucke--This was one of my favorite gowns from the Miss Universe 2019 preliminaries and I was happy to see Miss Universe France didn't change for the Finals. The ivory sequin-and-feathers dress was from Lebanese couturier Ziad Nakad and looked as exquisite and expensive as most of those Lebanese designer's gowns (from Elie Saab, Zuhair Murad, etc.). I loved the placements of the sequins and feathers at the bottom half and sleeves and in addition, the nude/blush coloring was perfect for Maeva's porcelain skin color and auburn hair. She looked like an actress at the Cannes Film Festival red carpet: Tres Chic.


6. Miss Universe Indonesia Frederika Alexis Cull--Indonesia's Frederika Cull wore another one of those golden/nude sequined gowns very popular with pageant and red carpet ladies. This gown was designed by Tex Saverio, the same designer who made her Preliminaries gown. The dress is beautifully made, as it has become custom from many of these Indonesian designers, featuring heavily beaded designs, simulating diamond necklaces draped all over her sinuous body. Under this see-through sequined netting, she wore a nude-colored strapless corsetted bodysuit, like a very Haute Spanx. She looked sexy and glamorous. I was also extremely happy that she wore the RIGHT SHOES! (Take note ladies--THESE are the gold strappy heels I am always talking about).

7. Miss Universe Mexico Sofia Aragon--For the Miss Universe 2019 Finals, Sofia went red. This red sequined gown was designed by Fher Santos, the same designer who made her white preliminaries gown seen HERE. This column-shaped dress fit her to perfection with hidden inner corsetry and was completely covered in crystals. The design had a detachable red organza overskirt, which she removed as part of her catwalk. The color and shape were just right for Sofia.

8. Miss Universe Peru Kelin Rivera--Kelin is at my 8 out of 10 spot in this dress designed by Peruvian Designer Maritza Mendoza Studio. The dress featured a nude (of course!) colored satin dress with peek-a-boo see-through netting at the side, curving up to the front of her torso. The heavy crystal beading covered the entire gown in a rich scroll-like pattern. This was a perfectly nice gown that fit her well and made her look Pageant perfect on stage.

9. Miss USA Cheslie Kryst--Miss USA Cheslie Kryst also chose a gold gown for the Finals of Miss Universe 2019 (I was beginning to think they all actually got a directive TO ALL WEAR GOLD!!!). This particular dress was from Sherri Hill and featured a high side slit, nude base with gold mirrored sequins that looked like broken glass. I thought the one-shoulder dress fit her nice (showing off Cheslie's incredibly toned body) and I also loved how the "broken glass" mirrored sequins were placed throughout the dress and how they radiated from the side waist, doing a fab "cinched-in" illusion...but compared to Miss Puerto Rico this dress looked a bit "off the rack" compared to Madison's Haute Gown.


Lastly...
10. Miss Universe Iceland Birta Abiba Porhallsdottir--The oh-so-lovely 20-year-old Birta captured the hearts of the universe last night during the Miss Universe 2019 pageant. With making it into the Top 10, she achieved the highest placement for her country since...1962! She wore this golden gown from Sherri Hill. The strapless dress had a gold beaded bodice and full ball-gown style skirt with gold appliques over ivory crinoline fabric. The style was sweet and worked for the 5' 10" tall beauty. While it was a bit "Miss Teen"-like, I'm glad she went a bit "edgy" by not lining it and giving a semi-view to her legs underneath. 


 So...a BIG CONGRATULATIONS to the new Miss Universe, South Africa's Zozibini Tunzi!!!

 Miss Universe 2019 Zozibini Tunzi

...and Don't Forget about my "The Pageant Coloring Book" where you can create your VERY OWN Evening Gown Competition using my Fashion Illustrations! Click HERE to Purchase:
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SASHES AND TIARAS.....Miss Universe 2019 Preliminaries: My TOP 15 EVENING GOWNS!

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SASHES AND TIARAS.....Miss Universe 2019 Preliminaries: My TOP 15 EVENING GOWNS!

Gown Fab--Miss Universe 2019 contestants during the Miss Universe 2019 Preliminaries Evening Gown Competition (L to R) Miss Universe Singapore, Miss Universe Philippines, Miss Universe South Africa, Miss Universe Indonesia, Miss Universe Puerto Rico Madison Anderson--Miss Universe 2019 Preliminary Competition, Atlanta Georgia

TONIGHT is the Finals of Miss Universe 2019...but on Friday, the Miss Universe 2019 Preliminary Competition took place and part of this was the Evening Gown Competition. 90 contestants from all over the world showed off their best Evening Gown looks. To be honest, it was a bit of a tackylicious mess (as a whole) with lots of bright colored cheap-looking sequined dresses or lots of silver and gold slit-up-to-the-cha-cha looks that were a bit off-the-rack-looking. I was disappointed. I almost felt as if we had gone backward--evening gown-wise--and were in the late 80's/early 90's Beauty Pageant time. But...within all those questionable taste level dresses, there were some standouts.

More Gown Pretty--Miss Universe 2019 contestants (L to R) Miss Universe Malaysia Shweta Sekhon, Miss Universe Japan Ako Kamo, Miss Universe France Maeva Coucke, Miss Universe Croatia Mia Rkman, Miss Universe Honduras Rosemary Arauz--Miss Universe 2019 Preliminary Competition, Atlanta Georgia

Here are my TOP 15 BEST GOWNS of the 2019 Miss Universe Preliminary Competition:
1. Miss Universe South Africa Zozibini Tunzi--STUNNING. A breath of fresh gown air, after so many too-heavily-beaded cheap polyester-looking tacky neon-colored gowns. When Zozibini came out in this white gown with matching cape, it was like a Gwyneth Paltrow-Tom Ford moment at the Oscars. She looked elegant, divine, elegant, regal-like. And to top it all off, the cape (whose outer layer is white velvet) featured a gorgeous sequined black-and-white printed Xhosa-inspired patterning motif that just about made me swoon. This was Gown Perfection, custom-designed by South Africa's Biji-La Maison de Couture.

2. Miss Universe Philippines Gazini Ganados--At No. 2 is this golden gown inspired by the Philippine Eagle designed by Filipino Designer Cary Santiago. This was the same inspiration for her National Costume, which was also designed by Santiago. The gown featured a fabric manipulated textured design, a fit-and-flare strapless silhouette with bird-and-wing-like details at the bust, and pleated lower half, creating a dramatic bottom skirt effect. This was one of the rare Miss Universe Preliminary Gowns that stood out for uniqueness and Haute Couture-like drama--and more importantly, didn't look cheap and tacky. For eagle-eyed pageant fans, they recognized that this was a gold version of what Gazini wore when she competed for Binibining Pilipinas, Miss Universe Philippines back in June:

 Gazini Ganados during the Binibining Pilipinas Universe 2019 pageant, wearing a pink Cary Santiago gown


3. Miss Universe France Maeva Coucke--This was my No. 3 favorite gown of the night, worn by Miss Universe France. The white see-through gown was striking, chic and was on another level of all the other see-through sequined dresses seen on display. It was designed by Lebanese Designer Ziad Nakad and featured hand-beaded jeweled sequins, feathers, and dangling paillettes. It fit beautifully and was very Haute Couture Paris Fashion Week!

4. Miss Universe Croatia Mia Rkman--One of the rare black gowns at the Miss Universe 2019 Preliminaries (in a sea of pink, blue, silver, gold)  this one worn by Miss Universe Croatia was a standout for sure. The gown featured a see-through netting base with heavy black sequined applique and multilayered tiers of organza creating a fabulously structured, dramatic shape. While her exaggerated hair bun was a bit TOO MUCHEEY, it didn't affect my gown critique.

5. Miss Universe Colombia Gabriela Tafur--Looking sublime, gorgeous in this silver sequined gown, Miss Universe Colombia was GOWN PERFECTION. This was a simple design that did the job of having stage presence, making her look elegant and modern. I recognized the Alfredo Barraza design since the Colombian designer is known for these styles of dresses; he does them VERY WELL! Once again, in a sea of off-the-rack polyester sequined dresses, this one stood out for looking expensive, well done and on another level.

6. Miss Universe Honduras Rosemary Arauz--In a gown by designer Lucia Rodriguez, Miss Universe Honduras made a strong impression on stage during the Miss Universe 2019 Preliminaries. The dress featured vertical silver sequined details laid on top of the silver iridescent fabric. The column gown fit her perfectly and included a dramatic (but not too dramatic) matching cape. Her slicked-back hair, clean makeup, and earrings added an air of regalness and were the right finishing touches. Whoever her "Glam Squad" team was, they did an excellent job overall!

7. Miss Universe Puerto Rico Madison Anderson--This contestant is in it to WIN IT! When Madison came out SLITHERING in this gold sequined gown, she might as well have ended the Evening Gown competition right then and there. I thought the gown, which was designed by Luis Antonio, was PERFECTION! The way the gold mirrored sequins were placed on the gown, as well as the UBER SEXY column shape, reminded me of the "Good Ol' Days" of the Miss Venezuela Pageant Alta Moda evening gown shows. Muy Bien Madison & Luis!


8. Miss Universe Malaysia Shweta Sekhon--Shweta wore this blush colored gown designed by Carven Ong and it was quite a stunner. The strapless design featured a blush-colored netting base with gold and silver jeweled appliques and had a side front slit and side-hip panels. It was a directional style for an evening gown, making it look more "High Fashion Runway" than "Beauty Pageant", which I liked. I wasn't a fan of the shoes or jewelry but other than that, I really liked the gown.

9. Miss Indonesia Frederika Alexis Cull--One word: Wow. Frederika took my breath away in this one-shoulder red and black sequined gown from Indonesian designer Tex Saverio. The design was inspired by the "Spirit of the Phoenix" and fire and featured a side-front slit as well as a shoulder "fall" drape. She looked Cher-like and ready to present an Academy Award...or get one herself! 

10. Miss Universe Singapore Mohana Prabha--DRAMAAAAA!!!! Miss Universe Singapore is definitely one of the Top Fashionistas of the 90 contestants, always bringing the FASHIOUUUUN!!! Here, for the Miss Universe 2019 Preliminary Evening Gown Competition, she slayed in this white sequined gown from Michael Cinco. The gown was part of a special collection done for the Ballet Philippines Gala (lower photo above) and featured a fitted column gown with dramatic "Elizabethan" kimono-like sleeves. She looked like a walking Couture Snowflake.

11. Miss Universe Japan Ako Kamo--Miss Universe Japan looked fabulous in this red fit-and-flare gown featuring black sequined applique and dramatic shoulder feathers. I loved all the details up top which framed her torso beautifully, especially with her hairstyle and makeup. She looked like a Bond Girl in the next James Bond film!

12. Miss Universe Mexico Sofia Aragon--Designed by Mexican Designer Fher Santos, this was another gown featuring dramatic sleeves. I thought she looked quite gorgeous in this white sequined design, giving absolute drama and queen-like presence on the stage. The dress was made to perfection, as I appreciated the finished hem lining (which you see at the lower middle part of this photo).


13. Miss Universe Bangladesh Shirin Akter Shela--I have to admit that Shirin is one of my top favorites of the 90 contestants and I was happy to see that she did not disappoint when it came to her evening gown choice for the Miss Universe 2019 Preliminaries. She looked elegant, sweet and modern in this off-the-shoulder nude-like gown with gold sequined swirls. The dress featured a nude-colored back cape to add a little bit of drama. I liked the styling--her hair, makeup, and great shoes. Well done Shirin!

14. Miss Universe Bahamas Tarea Sturrup--I actually liked this barely-there dress worn by Miss Universe Bahamas Tarea Sturrup. It was fun, super-sexy and made me notice her! The design featured a nude tulle base with flower-like sequin appliques covering her upper torso and then loosely sewn (or glued, perhaps) at her lower half. She looked very Cher (is this a Theme in Evening Gowns??!!). One complaint: Those shoes. No.

Lastly...
15. Miss Universe Vietnam Hoang Thuy--Speaking of SUPER SEXY and barely-there dresses...Miss Universe Vietnam gets my "This Gal Has Got Nerve!" and "THE BODY" to pull this off! In a gown by Vietnamese Designer Nguyen Cong Tri, Hoang slithered her way down the runway stage in this white chiffon design with nude tulle one-sleeved top featuring flower-like sequined appliques. This might as well have been an "Evening Swimsuit" since like 90% of her body was showing. I loved it! Especially for the fact that she was OWNING that stage and had a look of "What are Y'all Looking At?" You are looking at THE BODY of this year's Miss Universe, darlings! J Lo, you might want to get in touch with this designer ASAP!

...and Don't Forget about my "The Pageant Coloring Book" where you can create your VERY OWN Evening Gown Competition using my Fashion Illustrations! Click HERE to Purchase:
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