59th Annual "Miss Venezuela" pageant, arguably--next to Miss Universe and Miss World--the MOST IMPORTANT Beauty Pageant in the WOOOOORLD!! Why? Well, just because of the fact that Venezuela has won so many international beauty pageant titles, as well as the fact that "pageant watchers" always look to who wins the Miss Venezuela as a barometer of "She's the One To Beat!" when it comes to going on to international pageants--think Superbowl or the World Cup.
Gown Girls: Miss Venezuela 2011 contestants, during the Evening Gown portion (photo courtesy of bellezavenezolana.net)A lot of people also watch the pageant for its evening gowns. I have....since I was a little boy. So, now that I am a big boy...it's time to RATE the "Miss Venezuela 2011 Evening Gowns". Now, let me begin with the fact that I was very happily surprised that besides the entire telecast--the gowns (overall) were "toned down" --well, for Miss Venezuela standards. Lately, they have been looking cheap, over-the-top Drag-Queen-y and rather out-of-touch with the 21st Century and what one sees on the actual Red Carpet. But this year, either the Cisneros Group cracked down on the "Gown Budget" or someone closely involved with the evening gown selection has been looking at my past "Miss" evening gown blogs. Before I give you my "Mejor (Best) of the Bunch". Saturday night's pageant actually gave Prizes for "Best 'Miss Venezuela 2011' Venezuelan Designers/Best Gowns". Three of them. The Top Prizes went to:
Here's a big shocker: I did not agree with these Top 3. I know, the next time I visit the country I was raised in, I might risk having Arepas being thrown at me. Now, I thought those three were "OK" but here are my Top Picks for Best Gowns of "Miss Venezuela 2011"...if I was giving out those prizes:
Number 1--Miss Guarico Blanca Aljibes: Her off-white silk crepe gown was designed by Venezuelan Gionni Straccia and she gets my Nick V. TOP Choice for Best Gown. The minute she walked onstage, I was like "OK, Get it GIRL!". It was simple, elegant, no "Pageant Betty" HOOCHIE SLIT up to you-know-where. I also loved the structured shoulder/front torso panels. Loved the sequined waist trim as well. I admit, I am not so much a fan of the "covered-but-not-covered" nude/illusion neckline panel and yes, we can still see THE SISTAHS/cleavage (good job Official Miss Venezuela Plastic Surgeon, by the way!) But...other than this: A very chic, modern gown. Score: 9.9
Number 2--Miss Merida Yasmeira Gutierrez: Sunning! It was a strapless silver-and-gold sequined silk organza gown from Venezuelan designer Gionni Straccia (yes, once again of course!). In case you haven't been keeping up with the latest Spring 2012 Collections from NY, Milan and Paris, it is ALL about all over sequined gowns. But done right. And Straccia did it right: it's still modern, fresh and wow, so NOT pageant-y (Gracias for not adding the too-high slit). This gown could work at the Oscars, Emmys, Cannes. Or Miss Universe. Score: 9.8
Number 3--Miss Nueva Esparta Maria Quinones: Guess who designed this gown--my Third Choice for "Best Miss Venezuela 2011" gown? Yep, Gionni Straccia, again. He's on a roll. At least with me. I really liked this gown. First, it was very modern and directional--for "Miss Venezuela" standards. And it fits her very well... It featured red laser-cut applique', shoulder cap sleeve detail and had a very Alexander McQueen and/or Riccardo Tisci for Givenchy-look to it. Again, I am not a fan of the illusion-covered front section (how about making it not so plunging and not adding that?) and I felt like it could have been longer and more dramatic at the bottom. But, overall, it was a FAB gown! Score: 9.7 Number 4--Miss Sucre Irene Esser: Yes, the new Miss Venezuela made my list. Gionni Straccia also designed her gown, and won a trophy for it. It was a metallic gown with degrade' sequin embellishments, long sleeves and a see-through plunging neckline. It was a very impacting gown, but not my Top Favorite. I loved how the hand-applied crystals and paillettes were placed--especially on the neckline and shoulders. I just had a BIG problem with Irene's over-arching-her-back posing. Score: 9.5
Number 5--Miss Tachira Milagro Manrique: Douglas Tapia designed this stunning deep red silk ziberline mermaid-shaped gown. It was PERFECTION. The twisted pleated at the bust was great, the one-shoulder crystal strap, the fit: well done. Of course, I also love it because it actually reminds me of... One of my NIKOLAKI Spring 2011 Gowns (above)--in the same fabrication but different color. Honorable Mentions for Best Gowns:
Miss Vargas Sara Coello: Venezuelan Pageant go-to guy Gionni Straccia designed this violet-colored strapless gown for Sara. It featured laser-cut metalized leather applique' at the torso down to the thigh area and then flared out. I thought it was futuristic, very sleek , Milan runway-ready, and a departure from those "Gay Pride Float" gowns we were used to seeing in the past Miss Venezuela pageants. I also liked it because...
Miss Miranda Mariel Zamora: Mariel wore one of my favorite gowns of the night and therefore I had to give her an "Honorable Mention" here. The turquoise silk ziberline gown featured a one-shoulder strap detail, side exaggerated cascade drapes and sequin crystals throughout.
Pro Novias and it was part of its Haute Couture line. Yes, it was a bit "over-the-top" but at the same time, it had the perfect amount of DRAMA and Alta Moda touch to it, that it brought back some of the nostalgia of the "Miss Venezuela" 1980's Evening Gown heyday.
Miss Barinas Astrid Lozada: Gionni Straccia also designed this baby-blue silk chiffon one-shoulder gown. It was sexy and "Beauty Pageant" perfect enough for me to give it an "Honorable Mention". It had a ruched/gathered torso, gathered flowing skirt and was accented with oversized silver sequined trim detail. It had a high side slit but somehow (because of the fullness of the skirt) managed not to look like she was trying to, well, get PREGNANT!
Gionni Straccia-type gown which EVERY Pageant Girl--worth her Sash wants, and many Pageant-and-Prom "Knock-Off" companies are copying. And this is why it deserved, a "Nick V. Honorable Mention" in the "Best of the Miss Venezuela 2011" Category. And now, to my REAL Best Dressed of "Miss Venezuela 2011": Leonardo Villalobos (above and below) co-host of the Miss Venezuela 2011 Pageant. Venezuelan TV presenter/host for Venevision, Leonardo Villalobos looked absolutely DASHING on Saturday night's telecast. His tuxedo was sleek; the roll of his shawl collar--and how it always invisibly blended into the line of the shoulder of this jacket--was so beautiful. That. My Kids. Is. Perfect Tailoring.
Dios Mio! OK, now that I am done with my "Miss Venezuela 2011" Best Gowns...next up: The "Ayyy Mija" (Oh Dear! What Were You Thinking?)...Here's a Peek: