Thursday, January 22, 2015
The Best Gowns--Miss Universe 2014 contestants (Clockwise, from the top left: Mexico, Ukraine, Spain, Indonesia, Russia, and Colombia) during the Evening Gown portion of the Miss Universe 2014 Preliminaries Competition

The Miss Universe 2014 Preliminary Competition were held on Wednesday night at the FIU Arena, Florida International University in Doral/Miami Florida, and was also Livestream'ed on the web (that's how I watched them). This was the all-important competition lead-up to the Finals, which will be televised live on Sunday January 25th on NBC and Telemundo here in the United States.

 Miss Universe 2014 Preliminary Competition--FIU Arena, Florida International University Doral/Miami Florida

The Preliminary Competition is judged by by a panel of judges different from the televised live finals--usually for the Preliminaries there are entertainment/model agents industry professionals/executives and so on, while on the night of the finals, you'll find more "TV" (Read: NBC/Universal/Bravo talent) personalities/famous entertainers. During the Prelims, the top 15 Semi Finalists are chosen after seeing the contestants parade in Swimsuits and Evening Gowns. And yes, kids, what I am interested are the latter: the Gowns. Some kept the same gowns they wore for the Miss Universe Website Evening Gown Portraits and lots wore different ones.

Gown Smiles: Miss Universe 2014 contestants (Left to right: Mauritius, Malaysia, Lithuania and Lebanon) during the Evening Gown portion of the Preliminary Competition--FIU Arena, Florida International University Doral/Miami Florida

So...let's discuss what I thought were some of the better choices. In this post I've divided it into three categories:
* Good Gowns: my top picks for best gowns of the night
* At-a-Girl: contestants who wore slightly over-the-top gowns that I liked, and
* Could Have Been Better: contestants that well, were Almost Good...keep reading, you'll see what I mean.

Here we go! My Top Gown Pick Is...
Colombia Paulina Vega: One word: WOW! When Paulina walked onstage in this shimmery silver sequined column gown, I gasped! I think I even screamed at my computer screen (remember, I was watching it on the web!), "Yep! There's Your Winner..or at least First Runner-Up!". The gown fit PERFECTLY. It was modern, red carpet fab, had stage presence, and her styling was fresh, modern and on-point: the clean non-"Pageant-Betty" hair, great makeup, lack of accessories...This girl is ON IT! Oh, and yes, did I mention that this was a GORGEOUS gown!!?? Now I did.

Spain Desiree Cordero: Desiree is a front-runner (in my eyes!) to win the top crown; she has it all--the body, sparky personality, she's beautiful...oh and she wore one of m FAVE gowns. She also wore a silver/ivory gown (very popular with the "top" girls). Hers was a strapless fitted Siren-like silhouette that featured exquisitely placed sequins and jewels. This gown was A STUNNER!

Ukraine Diana Harkusha: I just about dropped my dinner and glass of red wine...when I saw Miss Universe Ukraine wear one of my favorite gowns from the Zuhair Murad Haute Couture Fall 2014 collection. Yes, kids, it's COUTURE! And would cost in the high regions of $100,000+ if you were to order it! The strapless silk organza gown features all hand-sewn crystals (the gown is also HAND SEWN!), an asymmetrical front silhouette with exaggerated cascade drapes. I also loved that she did an elegant center-front parted high bun as her hairstyle to give it an added extra "I'm a DIVA who is wearing a FABULOUS $100,000 gown!" exclamation mark.

Russia Yulia Alipova: Miss Universe Ukraine wasn't the only contestant wearing actual Paris Haute Couture...Miss Russia was not about to be overshadowed darlings! Yulia wore another of my favorite "Good Gowns" last night: a crimson red silk satin ball gown from Elie Saab Haute Couture Fall 2013. This gown is absolute perfection: it's Grace Kelly Hollywood Glamour classic, elegant and features all the details of a true Couture dress. It is all hand made, has hand sewn crystal applique and the folded skirt drapes add exuberant sweeping drama. If there was one critique, I only wish, she would have done without the earrings and without the semi-pouffy hair; I would  have copied the runway model.

Mexico Josselyn Garciglia: Josselyn wore one of the Top Picks for a gown during last night's Miss Universe 2014 Preliminaries; it was BEYOND! The column shaped gown featured gold sequins with gold and copper jeweled neckline highlighting a great three-quarter shot. When Josselyn slithered onstage in this, I was like "SHUT THE FRONT DOOR!" Muy, muy bien mija!

Trinidad and Tobago Jevon King: I LOVED this white jersey "caftan" sleeved gown; it was modern, retro and unique. She definitely stood out--in a good way--in this super chic design. I loved the dramatic batwing/blouson sleeves, the gold sleeve hem and underbust sequin trim and it was great for the stage. Jevon looked like a modern day Cleopatra-meets-Diana Ross Fashon Diva!

Indonesia Elvira Devinamira: Elvira wore this silver halter gown featuring sequins, crystals and lace applique. The design was COUTURE-worthy and the fit was perfect. Therefore, this had to make my "Good Gown" list! I also liked her hair and choice of simple earrings (and nothing else, thank you very much!). It makes me happy to know that someone is actually reading fashion magazines, or looking at the Paris Runway Shows and also seeing what A-List actresses actually wear at top award show red carpets. Than you Elvira (and your Pageant Team!).

Thailand Pimbongkod Chankaew: Love this gown (of course, another silver/nude column style!). The stunning Pimbongkod is almost 6 foot tall so this style was perfect for her; it accentuated her height to no end! I thought she looked like she belonged at the Cannes Film Festival Red Carpet. And thank goodness her hair was fresh and non-pouffy and she limited her jewelry to a bracelet. How do you say "Excellent!" in Thai???!!

Czech Republic Gabriela Frankova: I thought this gold sequined gown was a nice choice for Miss Universe Czech Republic. I liked the silhouette and style of the gown with long sleeves, but more importantly, it was a strong impact on stage with the expensive-looking gold sequin detail...

I think that the fact that Miss Universe 2013 Maria Gabriela Isler (above at the Miss Universe 2013 pageant finals) wore a similar styled gown (long sleeves, covered body--in silver, of course) is by no means, a "fluke"; in other words, I think this is a style lots of beauty queens thought might work for them to help get that 2014-2015 crown.

USA Nia Sanchez: There were several red gowns worn at last night's Miss Universe 2014 Preliminaries and Nia's was one of the best! The gown fit her nicely, the style gave DRAMA (that train, the horsehair-trimmed hem). I thought that the mini spaghetti straps looked as if they were an after-thought (like it was supposed to be strapless but...). I thought this was a great gown. On a side note: she didn't need those earrings.

Jamaica Kaci Fennell: Another great red gown was the one worn by Miss Universe Jamaica Kaci Fennell. She's one of the favorite to win the crown and I can see why; she exuded major confidence, she's beautiful, and has THE MOST sexiest/sassiest runway walk! This red sequined applique gown could have gone a bit tacky-licious but the mini cap sleeve, high neck, lack of HOOCHIE slit, and her slicked pixie hairstyle...among other things...brought it all into chic, red carpet fab!

St. Lucia Roxanne Didier-Nicholas: Love this golden sequined tulle gown on Miss Universe St. Lucia. The silver jeweled paillettes were placed perfectly and I liked the ombre sequin effect (from heavy to light). The beautiful Roxanne wore a bicep silver crystal cuff and I just thought that it was not necessary; the dress speaks for itself darling, no need for that; it's actually distracting.

Kenya Gaylyne Ayugi: I also loved this ivory halter neckline gown with silver sequin details. She looked very Lupita Nyong'o-at-an-Atelier Versace runway show. It was chic, elegant and red carpet fab.

Lithuania Patricija Belousova: I thought Patricija looked Glam Perfect in this silver-gray strapless gown. The fit was nice and more importantly, the overall effect was impacting and just right! I loved the silver sequined bustier that then flowed into a full chiffon dress.
Neon Queens: I love COLOR and more importantly neon brights, and especially when it's done right. And here (Left to right) on Miss Universe Ecuador Alejandra Argudo and Miss Universe Netherlands Yazmin Verheijen, add up to two gown that belong in my "Good Gowns" list. Both ladies did it right!

Australia Tegan Martin: Tegan is one of the top favorites to get the Miss Universe crown. She's a modern day Christie Brinkley. In terms of her gown, it was Good for sure. The mermaid silhouette ft her well and the royal/electric blue color was very impacting. The gown also had a sequined bodice. It was VERY Sherri Hill, and it worked for her. Let's just say this gown is about five minutes from being "Pageant Betty" but it somehow, made my Good List.

Costa Rica Karina Ramos: Don't ask me why but...I liked this gown. Yes, it's A LOT. But Karina owned it and I think the fact that it was black, helped; if this kind of dress/style was bubblegum pink: OH NO HUNEY!!! So...I had to add her (and this gown) to my "Good List"; she WORKED IT! And in a good way.

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Honorable Gown Mentions:
Several ivory/silver/nude/blush gowns (above) made my "Honorable Gown Mentions" section because they were nice gowns, with a nice fit and good sequin work. These ladies should be very (Style) proud! 

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At-A-Girl Gowns: These contestants "brought it!" when it came to the gowns they wore for the Miss Universe 2014 Preliminary Competition. It could have gone the "Oh-No-You-Didn't!" bad route, but for me it worked...

India Noyonita Lodh: Noyonita redeemed herself from the very HOOCHIE-licious dress she wore for the Miss Universe 2014 Website Evening Gown Portraits HERE. I was happy that she didn't wear that. I liked this gold sequined over golden organza design. It was the right choice for her. Did she need that slit? Nope. But I give her "At-a-Girl" points for the overall impact.

Ghana Abena Appiah: Serriously!!?? Abena is GIVING YOU!!!! THis gold sequined lace over salmon pink satin gown with train is very one-of-a-kind and looks Regal with a Capital "R". I thought this was a gown the wife of the Ambassador of Ghana would wear to a White House black tie reception...which is all good! ELEGANZAAAA!!!!

Singapore Rathi Menon: When Miss Universe Singapore walked onstage in this red sequined gown, I started humming Bizet's "Carmen". This gown was EVERYTHING. Yes, it was 97% a National Costume...for Miss Spain! But I still appreciated Rathi's daring style ability to just "GIVE IT!" It's A LOT of gown and could be considered a bit much, but...it's really, really good!
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Could Have Been (A Little Bit) Better: These are gowns that I liked and, for the most part, were Good, but there was just "something" that was...off:
Dominican Republic Kimberly Castillo: The gown, color, sequins, styling..all FAB. But...What are those bugle beaded fringe sequins doing???? The sequined fringe was so not necessary; they were very Liza Minnelli/Bob Fosse/Chicago. Everything else is just fine.

Philippines Mary Jean Lastimosa: I LOVE the ivory paillette sequins on the torso and bodice. I just wish the sequins would have continued and there would not have been a see-through section right below her you-know-what. And then, there's the iridescent mermaid gathered bottom section. Any time I have to type IRIDESCENT...well, it's not cute. I just wish the gown would have been a column shape and ALL covered in those gorgeous sequin/paillettes.

Finally...
Venezuela Migbelis Castellanos: I LOVE this Gionni Straccia-designed off-the-shoulder ivory sequined gown on Migbelis. I have to BOW down to the Gionni Straccia Atelier in Caracas (or wherever he has these gowns made) because that sequin and jewel work is OUT OF THIS WORLD! I just hope the ladies are paying the $$$$$ that this kind of work costs! My main critique is not with the gown but more with Migbelis. I think it was smart to make her a gown that was off the shoulder but I think she did herself a disservice by putting her hair in the front; she looked like she had NO NECK. She should have pushed her hair back.

**NEXT: The "Uh OH! Ayyy Mija!" Gowns from the Miss Universe 2014 Preliminary Competition !!**

In case you missed it, Watch the Miss Universe 2014 Preliminary Competition HERE:


13 comments:

Maithilee Patole said...

Russia is wearing the gown taylor swift wore at the CMA's...sooo jealous

Javier said...

I liked those gowns too!
I really love miss Mexico's gown and her way to wear it, in my opinion is the best gown ever used by a miss Mexico in Miss Universe.

laila seprado said...

The designer of Ms. Colombia's gown is the same as Ms. Philippines. Go figure. He has been designing mediocre gowns for our candidates. We have had enough. We feel that MJ is our strongest candidate to date.

#NOmoreBarrazza

Leandro said...

Miss Venezuela Org. gives their candidates all they need for the contests. Gionni Straciia deal with Osmel Souza..

Joseph Garcia said...

MJ GOWN WAS DESIGN BY FILIPINO SAME GUY WHO DESIGNED MAEGAN YOUNG YOUNG IN RECENTLY MISS WORLD 2014

laila seprado said...

@Joseph Garcia....no my dear...Megan's gown was from a Filipino designer named Francis Libiran. Miss World Philippines is owned and managed by a different group so they have been wearing fabulous gowns made by Filipino designers. Miss Universe Philippines however is owned and managed by BPCI whose matriarch is Colombian born. So please...even before commenting in CAPITAL LETTERS... validate your info first! You just gave me another reason to spread #NomoreBarrazza

juan enrico said...

I like to see MJ....Btw I'm indonesian...for her dress comment...it's true...for myself....since we know that MJ not that tall...your designer shouldn't gave her that gown....The mermaid shape on the bottom...make her look even shorter,, the upper part should go straight all the way down..it would show MJ'S amazing body...In this one MJ had to work really hard...even taller girl doesn't want to wear this..coz they don't to be look shorter...well done for your effort, MJ...gud luck

financemd said...

Isn't a strange coincidence that Miss Russia and Miss Ukraine, whose countries have been fighting for many months now, are the only two countries wearing Haute Couture?

Russia's economy may be struggling now, but Miss Russia's expensive wardrobe says otherwise.

Despite Russia's Recent Economic Struggles, Miss Russia Wears Ridiculously Expensive Gowns to the Miss Universe Pageant in Doral

Paul Miller said...

Congrats to win the Miss Universe Title among tough competition.

Lalalalalala said...

Do you know who designed Miss Colombia's dress? I want it for prom!!

Teddycapz said...

The horrid gown of Miss Philippines which was obviously meant not to accentuate her amazing hourglass figure and make her look shorter was designed and executed by Colombian Alfredo Barrazza who also designed the stunning and far superior height-enhancing gown of Miss Colombia. He also did the extremely mediocre and insulting national costume of Miss Philippines. This is upon the exceedingly stubborn and highly questionable behest of the pageant national director of the Philippines Stella Marquez Araneta who happens to be Colombian and a bosom buddy of Barrazza - much to the widespread chagrin and protestations of Filipinos for so many years already and yet they couldn't do anything about it because Araneta owns the MUO franchise since decades ago. If this is not an apparent connivance to sabotage the Miss Universe quest of Miss Philippines who is acclaimed as the best Filipina representative this past decade, I don't know what is.

Teddycapz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Teddycapz said...

The amazing fourpeat accomplishment of top 5 placement by the Philippines in Miss Universe from 2010 to 2013 is widely credited to the exceptional merits of the Filipina candidates from Venus Raj to Ariella Arida - particularly their ability to survive and carry off exceptionally their mediocre gowns courtesy of Barrazza. Unfortunately MJ Lastimosa couldn't accomplish the same with a clearly underwhelming gown in the face of so much formidable competition this year. This despite a laudable effort on her part to change her gown for the finals to a hands down sublime creation by heralded Filipino young designer Leo Almodal who created her portrait gown - a remedial attempt which was however staunchly forbidden by Stella Marquez Araneta and even strongly rumored to be highlighted by her shameless berating of MJ backstage during the finals rehearsal. Somehow the stress this brought MJ affected adversely her countenance and was manifested in her finals performance which lacked her spark during the preliminaries. Clearly it's about time already for the government to intervene and wrest the Miss Universe franchise from Araneta so the Filipina candidates will be rightfully groomed and prepared for the international competition by their nationalistic and much more creative compatriots which is being successfully done by the Miss World Philippines matriarch Cory Quirino.

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