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SASHES AND TIARAS.....Miss Lebanon 2016 Evening Gown Recap!

Haute Beauty Queens: "Miss Lebanon 2016" winner (center) and contestants, all wearing Zuhair Murad--"Miss Lebanon 2016" Finals

This past weekend were the Finals of "Miss Lebanon 2016". The winner was 22 year-old Sandy Tabet originally from Bhamdoun, 14 miles of the country's capital city, Beirut. She defeated 14 other contestants for the coveted crown and will now represent her nation in the "Miss World 2016" occurring this December in Washington DC...

"Miss Lebanon 2016" Sandy Tabet

The "Miss Lebanon" pageant is one of the most stylish ones in the international circuit for one reason alone: Zuhair Murad. The Lebanese couturier--famous for dressing the likes of Jennifer LopezKristen BellChrissy Teigen, who is one of the organizers as well as judge of the national pageant...

Lebanese Beauty: "Miss Lebanon 2016" Sandy Tabet

The exciting part for me--as a designer and beauty pageant aficionado--is the fact that the Evening Gown portion of the pageant is comprised of ALL Zuhair Murad gowns! Yes kids, they are not playing around here--sometimes he even allows some of his $100,000+ costing Haute Couture creations to be worn by the contestants. At last year's "Miss World", Miss Lebanon in fact wore one of his Couture gowns and became a finalist:

Valerie Abou Chacra "Miss Lebanon 2015" at "Miss World 2015" wearing Zuhair Murad Haute Couture

So...Let's get to this year's Evening Gown Couture Parade! I want to start with one of the hosts of the show, Aimee Sayah:
Aimee Sayah, who also happens to be the host of Lebanon's version of "The Voice", wore this silver and gold caged gown from Zuhair Murad Couture Spring/Summer 2016 collection. The off-the-shoulder gown features hand-crafted flower-and-leaf appliques and a metallic belt. Stunning.

And now, the contestants and my Best-to-OK gowns, beginning with the eventual winner...
Sandy Tabet: Sandy wore a chic late 70's/early 80's inspired "zig-zag" sequined Zuhair Murad gown featuring long sleeves, plunging neckline and side front slit. The dress was very Studio 54 Glam Fab and very un-Pageant, which I kind of loved. I wish she would have worn different shoes, however; I would have preferred gold metallic strappy heels. But it looks as if all the contestants had to wear these shoes...poor girls--they're great with a daytime sheath dress but NOT with a $10,000+ Zuhair Murad gown.
Score: 9.05

Kathia Serhal: This gown--worn by Kathia--was the only one in such a strong golden mustard color. And I loved it! It was also the only one without any sequins or applique; it was all gorgeous, supple silk jersey. The design is sexy, Disco/70's fab and Grecian Goddess-like. Talk about making an entrance to a Gala in this...all other ladies would have to just step aside!
Score: 9.60

Reine Yamine: Loved this black Zuhair Muard gown. It's regal, entrance-making and elegant. I loved the subtle jet black sequin applique and the shape is EVERYTHING.
Score: 9.45

Andrea Haykal: Andrea was one of the Runner-ups and she wore this ivory lace and tulle fitted Zuhair Murad gown. White is a very popular choice for pageant gals and I could see this specific gown worn at an international pageant. The long sleeves keeps it "demure" for the ladies who don't want to show too much but the hint of leg through the netting makes sure it is still pageant-sexy! Also this is a two-for-one dress since if you add some white or nude lining, it could also work as your wedding gown!
Score: 9.35

Hala Merheb: Hala wore this stunning black tulle gathered ballgown from Zuhair Murad Ready-to-Wear Fall 2016 Collection. The gown features delicate gold, red and blue leaf and butterfly details slowly cascading down the dress. It is light and airy but still commands gown attention. Part of me wishes, however, that it had layers and layers of under-tulle to give it more volume and impact. But as is, it is still quite beautiful.
Score: 9.25

Tracy Rizkallah: Tracy wore this beautiful black tulle and sequined applique gown at the "Miss Lebanon 2016" Crowning Night Finals. As with all the other gowns in the pageant, it was from Zuhair Murad. And in case you have about $10,000 to spare, it's available here on Net-a-Porter; a bargain compared to his $85,000+ Haute Couture versions! The shape was classic Murad--with the full gathered overskirt and column gown underneath. But once again, I have to critique the shoes! Ladies: Please do not EVER wear nude shoes like this, with a black ball gown. Ever.
Score: 9.00

Rouba Daccache: Rouba chose (or it was chosen for her!) this black tiered gown from Zuhair Murad Ready-to-Wear Pre-Fall 2016 Collection. Normally I am not a fan of the tiered details (can look slightly Tacky Prom!) but I think it works with this design. the gown gives hints of the late 70's with its plunging neckline and sequined "stripes". It's both modern yet Retro.
Score: 8.99

Norma Darwich: Norma wore this red sequin-over-tulle fitted gown. I admire all the intricate applique work and how well it fits. The strawberry red color is also perfect for a dark haired woman and I can see this gown making an impact in the international pageant stage. The only thing I have a problem with is the placement of a specific applique right on her you-know-what. It's awkward to say the least and I doubt the lovely Norma would want the judges' (or anyone else for that matter) eyes focused there.
Score: 8.99

Michele Hajal: Michele's gown was similar in shape to the contestant I discussed before her. But here, the sequin applique was done right! It didn't focus on her you-know-what but instead, the embellishment was distributed quite evenly throughout. The raspberry color is quite pretty and the fit is perfection--notice how right-to-the-floor it is! Ladies: Take note--a long gown should always end there with no shoes visible...unless of course, it is a Hi-lo style.
Score: 9.15

Now, speaking of Hi-lo...
Frederica Abdo: I love a good Hi-lo style gown, especially when it's done right. This nude-colored gown features gorgeous silver and lilac sequin applique throughout and has a soft hi-lo cascading effect. It's pretty and lady-like. I just wish she would have not worn THOSE darn shoes; they look so CLUNKY!
Score: 8.50

Marcella Kalach: Marcella's white gown was very pretty and since it is a Zuhair Murad, I can only imagine how beautiful the intricate sequined applique is.'s a little "safe" and rather Bridal-looking. All she is missing is a veil and bouquet and she would be the perfect bride. Without all that, she looks like a Maid of Honor of a very high-end very costly wedding.
Score: 8.55

Pascale Dghem: I like how simple and sleek this white high-necked long sleeved gown is. But, at the same time, this is also why I'm not so sure it's impacting enough for an international beauty pageant stage. I think if it was one shoulder or strapless and then had an attached fabulous dramatic matching cape, then I would have given it higher marks.
Score: 8.45

Rita Bou Melhem: Rita wore this blue Zuhair Murad gown. It's pretty and I like the color. That's about all I can say; it's a nice gown for a wedding--a guest, a Maid of Honor, but for "Miss Lebanon", I expect a little more drama and something not so basic.
Score: 8.35

Maribelle Tarabay: The beautiful Maribelle was a Runner-up at "Miss Lebanon 2016". While she is gorgeous, this gown is so bland to me. It's a safe design and something that one can find a hundred times over at your local department store's "After Five" section. Knowing how there are HUNDREDS of more beautiful and impacting Zuhair Murad gowns, somehow she picked one that looks as if it belongs on the Sale Rack.
Score: 8.00

Santa Metri: Sandra's gown was similar to Maribelle's (the contestant I discussed before her) in it's nude illusion with applique on top/full solid skirt at bottom. It's pretty but rather "Zuhair Murad for Macy's" (if he ever licensed his name to do a much, much, much lower priced line). It also reminds me of a figure skating costume, and not in a high-end fabulous way.
Score: 7.99

Congratulations to Sandy Tabet, the newly crowned "Miss Lebanon 2016"...I can't wait to see what Zuhair Murad Haute Couture gown you wear at December's "Miss World 2016" Beauty Pageant!

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