Venezuelan Queen: Keysi Sayago "Miss Venezuela 2016"...and the Gowns--Miss Venezuela 2016 Beauty Pageant
This past Wednesday were the finals of one of the most important beauty pageants in the world: The Miss Venezuela 2016 Beauty Pageant. There were 24 contestants vying for the coveted crown which has had--as every pageant fanatic knows--SEVEN Miss Universe winners, SIX Miss Worlds, SEVEN Miss Internationals and TWO Miss Earths. The Miss Venezuela pageant and organization is known as a "Beauty Making Factory". The winner of Miss Venezuela 2016 was the gorgeous Keysi Sayago, who represented the state of "Monagas".
Bella Keysi: "Miss Venezuela 2016" Keysi Sayago--Miss Venezuela 2016 Beauty Pageant
The new "Miss Venezuela" just turned 23 (her birthday was yesterday on Thursday!) and stands 1.78 M (5' 10") and besides being beautiful and a model, she has a Degree in Mechanical Engineering (seriously, you can't make this stuff up!). Keysi is the talk of the country for having won the title--besides the fact that she has instantly become famous worldwide--but really for the fact that she is morena (tan skinned), and in terms of her look, she is very representative of what a true Venezuelan beauty should look like. The pageant is known for crowning blond or lighter haired/lighter skinned, European-types.
Crowning Moment: "Miss Venezuela 2015" Mariam Habach (right) crowns "Miss Venezuela 2016" Keysi Sayago--Miss Venezuela 2016 Beauty Pageant
Hair Bun Ladies: The Top Two (L to R) "Nueva Esparta" Diana Croce (First Runner-up) and "Miss Monagas" Keysi Sayago (eventual winner and new "Miss Venezuela)
Tropical Swim: "Miss Monagas" (and eventual "Miss Venezuela 2016") winner, Keysi Sayago competing in the Swimwear portion of the "Miss Venezuela 2016" Beauty Pageant
In the last few years, the "Miss Venezuela" Pageant has had to be scaled way, way, waaaay down. In the past it was held in a huge concert-size indoor amphitheater "El Poliedro", which could seat up to 20,000 people. The show was famous for its over-the-top "Who Cares What It Costs" productions. As a result of the severe economic crisis Venezuela has been going through, the pageant finals has ended up being televised from a TV studio (Estudio 1 of Venevision) with less than a hundred attendees (there were probably more people backstage working than as guests).
Model Keysi: Keysi Sayago "Miss Monagas 2016", the new "Miss Venezuela 2016"
As "Miss Venezuela 2016" she will get to represent the South American nation at the "Miss Universe 2017" pageant which (this might get confusing!), will probably not take place until 2018 (!). Last year's "Miss Venezuela" Mariam Habach has not even competed at "Miss Universe" yet and will do so NEXT YEAR, on January 30th when the pageant finals take place in Manila Philippines, according to some sources. So, yes, the lovely Keysi will probably be "chilling" for another year...and a half!...until she has to prove her worth internationally at the "Miss Universe" pageant.
Now, let's get to the important stuff: THE EVENING GOWNS!!
South American Couture: Contestants vying for the title of "Miss Venezuela 2016" during the Evening Gown portion of the beauty pageant
OK, now, let's talk about the Gowns: Venezuela has always been the benchmark for pageant gowns and the leader in setting and predicting trends for the rest of the world including the US. In my new book "A Passion For Fashion" , I talk about how, as a little boy growing up in Caracas Venezuela and even afterward when my family moved to the U.S., watching the "Miss Venezuela" pageant was like THE SUPERBOWL and Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week all rolled up into one singular fabulous moment!
Jeweled Fabulous--"Miss Venezuela" contestants in their evening gowns vying for the "Miss Venezuela 2016" title
Venezuelan Pageant designers have been the most coveted, go-to source for elite pageant gowns across the world. The most recent trend in Pageant gowns recently is "more is more". Some might say that has always been a trend when it comes to pageantry, but there has been decades in which gowns were downright subdued or minimalist compared to some of the styles we are seeing today...
Gown Gals: "Miss Venezuela 2016" Top 5 in their Evening Gowns--Miss Venezuela 2016 Beauty Pageant
I have no idea if these very talented designers get a nice budget for making these gowns (they should!) and in addition get paid for their design and work (they should--Part Two!) but the creations are incredible--for good or "Uh Oh" as some would argue. NO ONE in Venezuela can afford one of these gowns (that class of the population has left the country, for the most part--they're either in Miami, Houston, or Madrid) so doing this for "promotion" and "press" isn't going to help them or catapult them into worldwide business success. Maybe they can get orders from US-based pageant gals! But I give them a bow for making what looks like, very well-done designs.
OK, now that I got that out of the way, time to discuss my Top Favorites. First, I want to talk about the Winner Keysi Sayago "Miss Monagas" and her gown. It was one of my favorites!
The hi-lo cape by the way, reminded me of one of my NIKOLAKI gowns that I designed:
NIKOLAKI Spring 2015 Collection
Besides "Miss Monagas" gown, here are my Top 10 Favorite Gowns of the "Miss Venezuela 2016" Beauty Pageant----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Photos courtesy of MissVenezuela.com
Ralph & Russo Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2015 in the photo above. That one is just a gorgeous golden lace over silk gazar. But neveretheless, there were strong similarities.
Score: 9.7/10 (without the overskirt)
Ayyyyy Dios Mio!!!!--"Miss Amazonas" makes her entrance during the "Miss Venezuela 2016" Evening Gown portion
But, thank goodness, she took it off:
Score (DEFINITELY without the feathered cape!): 9.5/10....With the Cape: 2.0/10
Top Six Uh Oh-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Score (of "Miss Vargas" gown): 7.7/10
Finally...speaking of Mardi Gras and Folies Bergere...
If there was anything nice to say, it's that the color and "essence" kind of reminded me of this:
Irene Saez Conde "Miss Universe 1981"
Final Thoughts: I was really struck--as I said in the beginning of this post--by the over-the-top "More Is More" feeling that permeated into almost each and every evening gown at this year's "Miss Venezuela". The pageant has always been known for its gowns and being on the so-called cutting edge of Pageant Fashion but this year--especially with the dire economic situation in Venezuela--it almost seemed like an "F You!" to anyone expecting to see a more low-rent downsized gown parade.
But at the same time, there was a definite disconnect to what is really happening outside of those Venevision studios and I wonder if anyone in the country may have felt offended at the ostentatious display of super expensive fabrics, sequins, over-the-top-ness of those gowns. Or, maybe this is what the population needed, for just one night at least: A show of "Who cares what's happening outside, let's just pretend like it's 1985!!!". Also, I hope it can show a glimmer of hope and fabulousness to little boys and girls who love fashion and maybe want to be fashion designers ("Miss Venezuela" definitely inspired me!). And with that I bid...
*****Felicitaciones Keysi Sayago "Miss Venezuela 2016"*****