Tuesday, January 27, 2015
 Crowned: Miss Universe 2014, "Miss Universe Colombia" Paulina Vega Dieppa--Miss Universe 2014 Finals, FIU Arena Doral/Miami Florida

After a 56 year gap--and many times being in the Semi Finals or Top Five, Miss Colombia finally gets a crown: The 63rd Miss Universe was crowned last night at the FIU Arena at Florida International University in Doral/Miami Florida and the winner was 22 year-old Paulina Vega Dieppa of Barranquilla, Colombia. Even though five of the last seven Miss Universe winners have hailed from Latin America, Vega is the first Colombian in 56 years to win what is arguably, the most coveted crown in international beauty pageants. The last Miss Colombia to win Miss Universe was Luz Marina Zuluaga in 1958. 

 Perfection Part One: Miss Universe Colombia Paulina Vega during the Swimsuit Competition--Miss Universe 2014 Finals FIU Arena Doral/Miami Florida

Paulina Vega is the daughter of a cardiologist and a student of business administration as well as a model. The 1.78 m (5' 10") tall was Miss Atlantico 2013 and then Miss Colombia 2013. And Beauty Queens are in her DNA; Paulina is the granddaughter of Elvira Susana Castillo Gomez who incidentally was "Miss Atlantico 1953" (the same Colombian Department Paulina represented).
Perfection Part Two: Miss Universe Colombia during the Evening Gown Competition--Miss Universe 2014 Finals, FIU Arena Doral/Miami Florida

She was by far one of my Top Favorites (see HERE!) and consequently I also thought her evening gown she wore during the very important Preliminaries was my choice for Best out of all of them. Throughout the evening's finals, she exuded poise, elegance and a definite "air" of a future Miss Universe. Her body was OUTRAGEOUS during the Swimsuit portion (she looked like a Victoria's Secret Supermodel!) and in Evening Gown, she looked better than what most A-list actresses looked like at the Golden Globes red carpet. She did EVERYTHING right (with Miss Jamaica coming in VERY CLOSE in my opinion but more on that below, here on my blog).

South American Queens: Miss Universe Colombia Paulina Vega gets her new Miss Universe crown from the outgoing Miss Universe 2013, Maria Gabriela Isler of Venezuela--Miss Universe 2014 Finals, FIU Arena Doral/Miami Florida

And The Winner Is: (L to R) Miss Universe Colombia Paulina Vega holds hands with Miss USA Nia Sanchez--Miss Universe 2014 Finals, FIU Arena, Doral/Miami Florida (I LOVE Miss Lithuania's face!)

Top Five: (L to R) Miss Universe Colombia Paulina Vega (Miss Universe), 4th Runner-Up Miss Universe Jamaica Kaci Fennell, 2nd Runner-Up Miss Universe Ukraine Diana Harkusha, 3rd Runner-Up Miss Universe Netherlands Yazmin Verheijen and 1st Runner-Up Miss USA Nia Sanchez--Miss Universe 2014 Finals, FIU Arena Doral/Miami Florida

 Hosts Thomas Roberts and Natalie Morales--Miss Universe 2014 Finals FIU Arena Doral/Miami Florida
 Now, before I get to discussing the Gowns and other Fashion, it's time to talk about Miss Jamaica...

 All Kisses: Miss Universe Jamaica Kaci Fennell and Miss Universe Colombia Paulina Vega--Miss Universe 2014 Finals FIU Arena Doral/Miami Florida

During the live telecast and Finals of the 63rd Miss Universe Pageant, one contestant--besides the eventual winner Miss Universe Colombia--stood out head and shoulders above the rest. And that was the representative from Jamaica, Kaci Kennell. The former "Jamaica's Next Top Model", Kaci was a STANDOUT from the beginning, showcasing not only a nearly perfect swimsuit figure, a great gown, wonderful answers to the judges' questions but above all, she OWNED that runway and stage.

Diva Part 1: Miss Universe Jamaica Kaci Fennell--Miss Universe 2014 Finals, FIU Arena Doral/Miami Florida

So much of winning the Miss Universe crown has to do with that "Stage Factor" and boy did she have it! In spades! When she did her walk for the Swimsuit and Evening Gown Competitions, she SHUT IT DOWN. So it came as a complete shock (the booing from the audience was so loud it made host Thomas Roberts and Natalie Morales visibly uncomfortable! And trust me, I was booing at my TV as well!) that Kaci ended up in 5th place--as the 4th Runner-Up, below other contestants who, well, to be honest lacked the stage presence and overall "Star" factor, which she had.

Diva Part 2: Miss Universe Jamaica Kaci Fennell--Miss Universe 2014 Finals, FIU Arena FIU Arena Doral/Miami Florida

Speculation has been CRAY-CRAY on the interwebs regarding WHY she placed so low and/or didn't win. Many pageant followers and critics pointing to varied things--from racism to her short hair among other reasons for the judges' not giving her a higher placement. Who knows why. I was not a judge and I wasn't there in the FIU Arena (sometimes being there makes all the difference in seeing a different side of the story) so I cannot give my guess but I am truly at a loss of why she placed below Miss Netherlands, Ukraine and heck, even the beautiful Miss USA. #GoFigure. What do you guys think? I'd love to know...
Time to discuss THE FASHION: Best National Costume, Gabriela Isler's "Miss Universe 2013" Gowns and the Final Gowns...

Let's begin with the Winner of the Best National Costume:
Indonesian Temple Goddess: Best National Costume was voted by the public using Social Media...and the Winner was Miss Universe Indonesia Elvira Devinamira (above). I thought this was a nice costume but it wasn't even one of my Top Favorites. I still think Miss Universe Canada and her Marie Antoinette Hockey Stick EXTRAVAGANZA should have won. Period.

Outgoing Fashion Plate: Miss Universe 2013 Gabriela Isler 
Red Carpet Molly: Gabriella "Molly" Isler Miss Universe 2013, donned a silver ball gown with strewn paillettes for her red carpet appearance prior to the Finals of the 63rd Miss Universe beauty pageant--FIU Arena, Doral/Miami Florida

It's always custom for the outgoing Miss Universe (or Miss World for that matter) to always look SUPREMELY more chic and fabulous than any of the other gals and definitely than when she last competed for the crown--in terms of her fashion. Since she already IS A MISS UNIVERSE and is giving away her crown, she has more availability to High Fashion and designers willing to lend her a Free Fabulous Gown--or two or three...She has also been to more than her share of Fashion Weeks and Red Carpet events to know what really looks A-List. This year was no exception.

For her first appearance onstage as hosts Natalie Morales and Thomas Roberts introduced her, Miss Universe 2013 Gabriella Isler wore a GORGEOUS salmon pink with silver sequined panels from Venezuelan designer Alejandro Fajardo. The gown was exquisitely made and featured a high neckline, waistband and over-skirt framing the column dress. Her hair and makeup and lack of jewelry made it look fresh and ultra chic.

For her "Goodbye" walk at the end of the telecast and finals, she wore a strapless white gown with Swarovski crystal details. This gown was designed by Venezuelan designer Gionni Straccia. She accented the look with a tiny Venezuelan flag in her hand.
Which of the three looks was YOUR favorite? Red Carpet Ball Gown? Salmon Pink Gown or Strapless White and Sequins?
Miss Universe 2014 Finals Evening Gown Recap: Now, time to discuss the EVENING GOWNS. Let's begin with the Winner, Miss Universe Colombia...

Colombia Paulina Vega: Paulina who as you know was the eventual "Miss Universe" winner, looked like PAGEANT PERFECTION in this ivory sequined column gown from Colombian designer Alfredo Barraza. It was my favorite gown of the Preliminaries and it was my favorite gown of the entire night/finals/telecast. The gown fit perfectly, I loved the nude panels at the side midriff and in the plunging center front neckline. The silhouette was classic, elegant yet very sexy. And what a surprise, no slit or visible tacky platform Stripper heels. This young lady knows how to do it ALL right--or at least her Pageant Coaches have trained her perfectly.
Gown Score: 10

Ukraine Diana Karkusha: Diana wore my second favorite gown of the night. It was this DIVINE strapless strawberry red sequined creation from Lebanese Couturier Zuhair Murad and his Fall 2014 Haute Couture collection. The gown is completely hand made and features a silk organza and silk gazar base with hand sewn sequins. Diana styled it just right with the hair and from the looks of it, even used the same shoe style the model wore on the Paris Haute Couture runway. It's not every year we see a $100,000+ costing Paris Haute Couture gown in a Miss Universe pageant so, soak it up kids! I don't know how Miss Universe Ukraine got a hold of this and what kind of strings she--or her organization--had to pull but...I want to see more of this at every Miss Universe!
Gown Score: 10

Spain Desiree Cordero: Desire was in every pageant fan's Top 5 to Win picks. Alas, she only got into the Top 10. Not bad mija! Her strapless ivory organza, tulle and silver sequined gown was beyond fabulous! She looked like a true movie star! I loved that for the finals she slicked her hair back for a more "polished"/evening look (Miss Venezuela Migbelis Castellanos  should have done this back in the Preliminaries, Thank You Very Much!). If there was any critique, the bust cups were a bit small for her (allegedly!) "artificially enhanced" sistahs. Other than that, she looked BELLISIMA.
Gown Score: 9.85

Jamaica Kaci Fennell: I think you already know what I thought of Miss Universe Jamaica Kaci Fennell and this gown. It was also one of favorites from the Preliminaries and I'm glad she wore it once again for the finals. The gown--a red sequined applique design--could have gone a bit "Pageant Betty" but the cap sleeves, high neck and lack of too-high slit...as well well as her chic Halle Berry short pixie hairstyle--brought the entire look to another GORGEOUS level. And then, there was THAT walk and facial expressions: JEEEESUS!!!!! Kaci should start a Pageant Runway Coaching School back in Jamaica. ASAP. I'd sign up!
Gown Score: 9.65

USA Nia Sanchez: Nia also wore the same red sequined gown that she wore for the Preliminaries. I liked it and I'm glad (and not surprised) she didn't change. As we all know some contestants will change their final gown choice to reveal the "Whammy!" during the Finals night. The dress was impacting and fit nice. I'm not a fan of the nude platform pumps with this (it cheapens it) but oh well. Silver strappy heels with no platform would have been so much nicer.
Gown Score: 9.4

Netherlands Yazmin Verheijen: Super exotic and beautiful Yazmin wore a neon yellow chiffon fan pleated gown for the finals--the same she wore for the Preliminaries. The only thing she changed was the size of her necklace. For the Prelims, she wore a big ol' statement making one, but here she chose a more traditional almost-choker style. I liked this gown, the color, and style. It was perfect for her skin color. I just wish her sistahs weren't so much "on display". It's like "Hello, Please Thank My Plastic Surgeon...He's done a Fab Job, Hasn't He?"
Gown Score: 9.30

Australia Tegan Martin: Same royal blue gown she wore for the Preliminaries. Tegan looked great in this mermaid shaped sequined and silk shantung design. It was, however, VERY Pageant Gown 101. It fit her nicely and was the right length though (no tacky platform pumps visible!).
Gown Score: 9.2

Argentina Valentina Ferrer: For the final night, Valentina gets "Most Gown Improved" , compared to what she actually wore for the Preliminary Competition. The gown above was much more Lady Like and looked more refined.
Gown Score: 8.9

What she wore at the Prelims...
 Was Pink Tacky-Licious. I'm glad someone talked to her to change her gown. The one above is fine for Las Vegas. Not for winning Miss Universe. See Miss Colombia for that darling.

Philippines Mary Jean Lastimosa: MJ also wore the same gown she wore for the Preliminaries. I wasn't a fan of it then and my review didn't change for the Finals. This gown, by the way, was designed by the same designer (Colombian fashion designer Alfredo Barraza) who made the gown worn by the winner, Colombia's Paulina Vega--if you can even believe it. This has been much discussed on social media and pageant sites--with lots of the Filipino fans asking why oh why did their candidate get well, a tackier looking gown?? I would ask that myself. I loved the sequin work but questioned the nude paneling at her thigh area. And then there's that iridescent mermaid tulle. The style also made her look SQUISHY.
Gown Score: 8.2

Venezuela Migbelis Castellanos: Maribelis changed her gown from what she wore at the Preliminaries (a beautiful off-the-shoulder white and sequined gown by Gionni Straccia) and instead wore this red strapless gown also from Gionni Straccia--the same one she wore for her Miss Universe Website Evening Gown Portrait. I liked it then when I saw the website photo but onstage, during the finals, it was not impacting or "Miss Universe Winner" enough; it lacked that WOW factor. It also looked too tight on her.

And it was too short due to the fact that she styled it (unfortunately) with those nude platform heels. If she had just worn strappy non platform ones, the length would have been fine. But sometimes, the designer has no input on how the wearer will style the garment. After some web research, I found out that Migbelis had other choices in terms of her Final gown and this was one of them:

Left on a Hanger: Venezuelan fashion designer Alejandro Fajardo (he of Gabriella Isler's salmon pink sequined gown seen earlier in this blog post) created this gown for Migbelis as one of the choices for her to wear on the final competition night. This above is an iphoneogram pic from a fitting back in Caracas I assume. This gown looks AMAZING! And well, I'm at a loss as to why she didn't wear this instead? Maybe it didn't fit? Maybe Osmel Sousa (the Miss Venezuela National Director) advised her against it? Who knows. I'm not saying that wearing this would have made the difference and gotten her a higher placement or at least into the Top 5. One will never know. But in terms of A GOWN, this would have, for sure, make a definite impact. Oh well...
Felicitaciones and Congratulations to the new Miss Universe, Colombia's Paulina Vega!!!


laila seprado said...

Yup, we still can't move on about MJ. FYI, you may not notice but a day or two after the prelims, a Filipino designer (magical elf) made some adjustments on the gown (cinched waist,sweetheart neckline and more flowers to cover the mesh). There are rumors (stronger and stronger) that MJ wanted to wear a fabulous pink gown by another Filipino designer but was reprimanded by the Colombian National Director for even asking that was why she was visibly shaken during the pageant....Hmmmmm...

The issue has been a hot topic in my country with celebrities, fashion designers and netizens weighing in.

Sabotage maybe? Paulina looked 10 feet tall while MJ looked 5 feet feet tall.


Latoja Montes said...

For the longest time now, that Alfredo Barazza has been sabotaging the Philippines representatives with his ugly designs....but of course he dresses another candidate...if he cannot be fair then why even accept the job....people like him doesn't have delicadeza....just because they are friends with the conniving national director who is Stella Marquez Araneta...to think that there are more Filipino designers who can do the job a lot more superior than Barazza...Filipinos doesn't even like Barazza is he not ashamed of himself? He has no brain...Be ashame of yourself Barazza..

Brett Mann said...

five of the last EIGHT miss universe winners have hailed from latin america, not 7 as you stated above.

06 - puerto rico
07 - japan
08 - venezuela
09 - venezuela
10 - mexico
11 - angola
12 - usa
13 - venezuela

if you are going to include colombia as part of the 7, then you can't say "LAST 7" prior to including her in the list, as she's the CURRRENT miss universe.

Hijau Kertas said...

FYI, Ukraine gowns was lend by her National Director (Oleksandra Nikolayenko)a minutes before Preliminary Comp after she saw Miss Russia wore Ellie Saab gown!

Teddycapz said...

No question about it that Miss Colombia is quite deserving of winning the title. But I just have to say that the horrid and tacky gown of Miss Philippines was NOT her choice but was rather very suspiciously imposed upon her by the Miss Universe pageant national director of the Philippines Stella Marquez Araneta who is a Colombian married to a Filipino tycoon. This cheap-looking knockoff of an original sublime creation by heralded young Filipino designer Leo Almodal was designed and executed by Colombian Alfredo Barraza who also designed the hands down stunning and obviously far superior height-enhancing gown of Miss Colombia. Do you smell the stench of sabotage and conflict of interest in the air? The gown of Miss Philippines was obviously meant not to accentuate her amazing hourglass figure and make her look shorter. Barraza also did the extremely mediocre and insulting national costume of Miss Philippines. All this travesty and outright mockery of the superior artistry and creativity of many Filipino designers of world class caliber is upon the exceedingly stubborn and highly questionable behest of Araneta who happens to be a bosom buddy of Barrazza - much to the widespread chagrin and objection of Filipinos for so many years already and yet they couldn't do anything about it because Araneta owns the MUO franchise since 5 decades ago. If this is not an apparent connivance to sabotage the Miss Universe quest of Miss Philippines MJ Lastimosa who is acclaimed as the best Filipina representative this past decade, I don't know what is. And this cannot be tolerated and swept under the rug any longer.

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