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SASHES AND TIARAS.....Miss Universe 2012: Winner, Gowns


Miss Universe 2012 The Finals Recap: The Gowns, The Hairspray and Miss Venezuela's "Miss South Carolina Teen USA Moment"...

Crowning Moment: Miss USA 2012 Olivia Culpo becomes the new Miss Universe as last year's Miss Universe, Leila Lopes of Angola is putting the crown on. Leila--by the way--is the longest running Miss Universe in history (one year and 3 months!)

This past Wednesday night, at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino Theater Las Vegas, a new Miss Universe was crowned. Miss USA 20-year old Boston University sophomore Olivia Culpo (I have a feeling she isn't going back to finish her studies...for now!) beat out 88 other beautiful women and won the most coveted International Beauty Pageant title.

Universal Close-Up: Miss Universe 2012, Olivia Culpo of the USA

As you know, I love to cover beauty pageants--especially all the international ones--here on my blog concentrating on my "Gowns Recap & Reviews", naturally. My point--as a Fashion Designer and Pageant Lover--is to also try to inject a bit of Hollywood's Red Carpet vibe in terms of my critiques and suggestions into the typical "Pageant Betty Gown" world. I wish there was more of the former than the latter, especially since it's the "Hollywood Industry" who eventually ends up being the "final judges", as opposed to "Pageant World" people.

 Pageant Queens: Miss USA Olivia Culpo gets crowned by Miss Universe 20111 Leila Lopes, and receives her flowers from Miss Teen USA 2012 Logan West

I was excited to talk about this year's Miss Universe Pageant, because I was actually attending! Yes, kids, I flew to Las Vegas--and bought tickets for myself and my NIKOLAKI design-and-business partner David Paul--to see the pageant! I 'll have a Recap of my time in Vegas in another post here--with lots of photos. Olivia's win makes it the eighth time in the pageant's history (the pageant was founded in 1952)--the most of any nation. Venezuela comes in second with six wins in the pageant's history.

 Brook Lee, Miss Universe 1997

Brook Lee in NIKOLAKI Collection: Miss Universe 1997 Brook Lee with Nick Verreos at a Miss Universe 2011 Telemundo Viewing Party at the W Hollywood (above photo).

Olivia Culpo also broke a 15-year streak of Miss USA not winning a Miss Universe title. Miss USA had not won a Miss Universe title since the gorgeous Brook Lee--originally from Hawaii--had won the title and was crowned Miss Universe 1997. Brook is a friend--and a NIKOLAKI muse--so to me, she will always be the eternal Miss Universe from the Good Ol' USA!

Now...let's discuss this year's Miss Universe 2012 Finals, the winner, the finalists, and yes, THEIR EVENING GOWNS:

The Final Two: (left to right) Miss Philippines Janine Tugonon and Miss USA Olivia Culpo hold hands as Olivia learns her fate

As I said, I went to the Miss Universe 2012 Pageant in Las Vegas. So I saw it all LIVE, from the theater. The pageant began at 5pm PST and ended at 7pm. It was an "interesting" show, to say the least, beginning with Donald Trump as Santa and the 89 contestants onstage introducing themselves. There were slight audio hiccups where several of those first countries' announcements were missed and silence (someone must have been fired for that). I felt bad for those girls since this was "their moment", as they say. 

 Three of the Best: (left to right) Miss Australia Renae Ayris, Miss Philippines Janine Tugonon and Miss Venezuela Irene Esser

 Miss Philippines Janine Tugonon (left), and Miss Venezuela Irene Esser (right) ham it up at the end of Train's (Pat Monahan, the lead singer is the middle of the photo above) performance during the Miss Universe 2012 Finals Evening Gown Competition

Then, the top 16 Semi Finalists were announced--15 were picked by a separate panel of Preliminary Judges plus the "Miss Universe Organization" had their "two cents" of who should be there--and one by the fans. There were lots of surprises as to who made the Semi Finalist list (Poland, Hungary) and the omissions (Puerto Rico, Bahamas).

 Top Five: (left to right) Miss Brazil Gabriela Markus, Miss USA Olivia Culpo, Miss Australia Renae Ayris, Miss Philippines Janine Tugonon, and Miss Venezuela Irene Esser

But lots of the Pageant Fan Favorites were there, including Venezuela, South Africa, Philippines, Brazil, Australia, USA. The swimsuit portion followed with those 16 ladies, then they were cut to ten. Evening gowns came next and then, the Top Five and finally the announcements of the Fourth, Third, Second, First Runner Ups and the Winner. In two hours, it was all done!

Right before the Final Question for the Top Five, the ladies got a Hair Spray "boost". Miss Venezuela Irene Esser (above photos) got most of the aerosol. This happened during one of the commercials breaks and I noticed--from my seat--that they were spraying maybe a little too much on those girls' hair; all one could see was just a bunch of hair spray fog!

Before I get started on my "Nick Evening Gown Recap", here were the three "special" Miss Universe winners:

Miss Congeniality: Miss Guatemala Laura Godoy
 Miss Photogenic: Miss Kosovo Diana Avdiu...who wore the (almost) same gown as the new Miss USA--Olivia Culpo's First Runner Up at the Miss USA 2012 Pageant...

 The gorgeous Nana Meriwether

 Best National Costume: Miss China Ji Dan Xu
Incidentally, she was MY PICK for Best National Costume! Hello!!

The Top Ten Evening Gowns--From Least Favorite to Best:
Miss USA Olivia Culpo: First, let me begin by saying that Olivia (and I think I have said this before) was already TWO MINUTES away from being an E! Entertainment reporter--she has the PERFECT FACE, smile and "air". She definitely has that "It" factor when it comes to being on TV. I also think she could be the lovechild of actress Emmanuelle Chriqui and Maria Menounos. In other words, she was MADE for TV. Congratulations to Olivia for winning the Miss Universe title. Her gown was, unfortunately, not my favorite. It was a full ball gown in red silk velvet with silk tulle and white under-crinoline petticoat. It featured a very plunging neckline and "glove-length" sleeves...

It was from Lebanese fashion designer's Georges Hobeika Fall 2012 Couture Collection (above photo). This gown--if ordered--would probably set you back approximately $75,000 so I wonder if it was actually bought or borrowed (like the Hollywood actresses do). I LOVE the gown on the model but I just don't think it was right on Olivia. I think it has something to do with the PLUNGING NECKLINE factor.

 Plunging Cha-Cha's: Olivia Culpo Miss USA--during the Miss Universe 2012 Evening Gown Competition

Plunging necklines work with flat-chested ladies. Not, with boobies such as Olivia's. During the LIVE telecast, one could see the bra/under-structure she was wearing (which is a BIG no-no). I remember turning to my seat mate (David) and saying "Oh Dear!". Seriously. But, in the end, it didn't matter, since she won the crown. Fashion Schmashion. A not-so-good gown can equal a Miss Universe crown, I guess.

Miss Hungary Agnes Konkoly: Agnes is very pretty but her strapless white satin and chiffon drop-waist gown with diamante trim is not. It is so off-the-rack. Bless her heart. Some of these girls (Hello Miss Venezuela and Miss USA) get custom gowns that could cost as much as a Mercedes-Benz! And yet, here is Miss Hungary in a gown fresh off the Pageant-and-Prom store. It was tacky and Pageant-typical. But yes, Agnes is pretty stunning and I bet that's why she was there. On another good note--the nude heels are good since as we all know, they extend the leg and do not draw the focus to the feet.

Miss Mexico Karina Gonzalez: Hot-short red sequins with crepe-chiffon over-skirt; a Bodysuit Evening Gown. No. No. And No. This is perfect if she is the Ringleader of a Hot & Sexy Circus. But NOT for Miss Universe. Whoever is making these gowns is really trying to make this a "pageant gown" trend...and I want to end this trend RIGHT NOW! It doesn't make any sense. In my Preliminary Gown Post, I thought this was good, but, I have now come to my (better) Fashion Senses after seeing it LIVE and in-person on stage.

Miss Russia Elizabeth Golovanova: Oh yes, look what we have here: yet another Bodysuit Evening Gown. I love the royal blue color and the beading looks delicately elegant. But, once again--what is up with this "Bodysuit Evening Gown" style? Not a fan. And I guess that it wasn't a judges' favorite either (she didn't make it to the Top Five).

Miss France Marie Payet: Now it is time for the pretty gowns...Let's begin with Miss Universe France.  This creme colored beaded gown was beautiful., elegant, well-made and hit all the right red carpet/pageant notes: there was NO HOOCHIE slit, it fit perfectly, it wasn't too short or too long and it looked regal. One of the best in the Top Ten Evening Gowns.

Miss Australia Renae Ayris: Loved this gown! It was a strapless, bustier top section, fitted gown with a tulle godet bottom section. The silver sequins were fabulous and the fit was perfect. Her loose-flowing hairstyle and "natural" makeup were perfect with the gown. She was one of my Top Three Faves. For sure.

Miss South Africa Melinda Bam: Melinda was THE favorite to win. EVERYONE and their Pageant dog--had her as the winner. But, alas, it didn't happen. Nevertheless, she looked AMAZING in both the Swimsuit and Evening Gown portions of the Miss Universe 2012 Pageant. I just think that maybe--just maybe--she looked a little too "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" with her perfect blond hair, face, figure...even though one of the final judges was an actual "Real Housewife of Beverly Hills"(Lisa Vanderpump). This golden paillette one shoulder gown with chiffon "fall" was beautiful. If it was me, I would have removed the chiffon "fall"; I didn't think it was necessary--the gown itself gives DRAMA with a capital "D" with the cut and all those gold sequins.

Miss Brazil Gabriela Markus: One of my favorite gowns of the night was worn by Miss Universe Brazil. She wore a strapless and very fitted golden sequined and chiffon gown with a center front slit. She looked as if she was missing a big ol' crown. This could have gone "Pageant Betty" in a hot minute. But, there was something about how expensive it looked, her styling, the way she carried all added up to one of the best! I reminds a little bit of the golden gowns from...

 The Zuhair Murad Spring 2011 Couture Collection (above)

Miss Philippines Janine Tugonon: Janine, the First Runner Up to Miss Universe 2012, wore an aqua blue iridescent organza strapless gown. She looked like a "Pageant Angel" in this. It featured a strapless folded top section with intricate crystal beading detail and a fan-pleated full skirt. This gown on someone else, with it's iridescent and sheer fabric, could have been a Pageant disaster; but for Janine I have just three words: She WORKED it! Overtime. The way she walked and then did her "Cobra" head moves and then finished it with her arm across the waist pose. Drag Queens across the World will be copying it! It was MAGICAL. She should have won. Just from that alone.

Miss Venezuela Irene Esser: Irene Esser wore an emerald green silk satin gown with crystal detailing for the Finals. This was a different gown from what she wore to the Preliminaries. Her gown was designed by Venezuelan Pageant Gown designer Gionni Straccia. I loved the color, the delicate yet very expensive looking Swarovski crystal detail. The gown celebrated the Christmas season and was still giving "Pageant COUTURE"! If there was any critique, I felt that it was a teeny-bit too short. But besides this, it was my favorite evening gown of the Top Ten in this year's Miss Universe 2012 Pageant.

Co-Host Giuliana Rancic gives the "Ooooh GURL, You Messed Up" look as Miss Venezuela Irene Esser gives an incomprehensible answer at Wednesday night's Miss Universe 2012 Pageant

Finally...speaking of Miss Venezuela and Irene Esser--she was--one of the favorites to win. Unfortunately she made a fatal mistake during the Final Interview Question-and-Answer portion. It became her "Miss South Carolina Teen USA Caitlin Upton" Moment...Judge Diego Boneta asked :  
"If you could make a new law, what would it be? And explain why."
Irene, Miss Venezuela, answered:
"I think that any leys [Spanish for "laws"] there are in Constitution or in life, are already made. I think that we should have ... uh ... a straight way to go ... in our similar, or, eh, in ... in our life has it this. For example, I am a surfer and I think that the ... the best wave that I can take is the wave that I wait for it. So ... please ... do our only ... eh ... law, that we can do. Thank you, Vegas."

I think we all get what the beautiful Irene was trying to say there...OK, maybe not...but she sure looked pretty saying it. My post-Miss Universe advice: she should have answered in Spanish. But I fear that her pageant handlers had pressured her to do it in English (bad advice...obviously)...

Click Below to watch the head-scratching Miss Venezuela Final Question-and-Answer Moment:

***Next Up: My "Las Vegas/Miss Universe 2012" Photo Album Blog Recap!

3 Responses to "SASHES AND TIARAS.....Miss Universe 2012: Winner, Gowns"

Anonymous said...

Hello Nick! Me gustaría saber si estuviste presente en Las Vegas la noche del concurso y pudiste ver el vestido de miss Poland y conocer tu apreciación. Llevó un vestido de un diseñador venezolano. Gracias!

craig braybrook said...

Hey Nick, so glad you loved the gown I made for Miss Australia! As a fellow Project Runway contestant..Project Runway Australia season 3 ..this makes me very happy :)) Thanks Again! Craig Braybrook

Raul Phillip Gatal said...

perhaps it was all the hair spray that Irene Esser inhaled in between the breaks.
that's the main culprit why we can't make heads nor tails with her answer