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SASHES AND TIARAS.....Miss USA 2017: Top 10 Preliminary Gowns

Best In Gown: Miss USA 2017 contestants during the Evening Gown portion of the Miss USA 2017 Preliminary Competition--Mandalay Bay Events Center Las Vegas

Last night was the Miss USA 2017 Preliminaries, which occurred at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. The Preliminary Competition is very important because it's when the Top 10 Semifinalists are decided that will go on to compete in Sunday night's Final Miss USA 2017 pageant. 51 contestants representing the 50 states plus District of Columbia competed in Swimsuit and Evening Gown. Naturally here on my Sashes and Tiaras blog, I'm interested in the EVENING GOWNS!

Satin and Sequins: Miss USA 2017 contestants during the Evening Gown portion of the Miss USA 2017 Preliminary Competition--Mandalay Bay Events Center Las Vegas

The Preliminaries give pageant fans a "glimpse" into what the contestants will wear for the Evening Gown portion and their taste level and more importantly, who went the "Pageant Betty" route or tried to be at least more Fashion Runway Fab. As a fashion designer--and beauty pageant fan--when commenting on the Evening Gowns, there are several things I'm looking for...

Exhibit A, B, C, D & E: Fashion-forward, Red Carpet Fab and...Pageant Gown Gorgeous--Miss South Dakota USA 2016 Madison McKeown at last year's Miss USA 2016 Finals

My criteria for judging a gown is based on my desire to see an element of Fashion-forward/Fashion risk-taking designs combined with the understanding that these dresses are primarily for stage and have to somehow be "Pageant Appropriate"--which inherently has their own set of "Dress Criteria". A perfect example of how one can bridge Fashion & Pageant/Stage Impact would be last year's Miss South Dakota USA  Madison McKeown who wore this cape-fab gown from Lebanese designer Tony Ward and his Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2015 Collection seen in above photo. With that said...

Here are my TOP 10 Best Gowns of the Miss USA 2017 Preliminaries--in order of Highest to Lowest:
Miss Massachusetts USA Julia Scaparotti: Julia's black gown was probably my favorite of the night. She wore this black halter neck gown featuring gorgeous sequined lace applique in a smooth fit-and-flare "mermaid"-like silhouette with Open Back. The gown fit her perfectly, defined her figure and best features and was the correct length (hiding those tacky nude platform pumps!). This is a nice example of a fashionable style that was Pageant Perfect as well--and notice lack of HOOCHIE-licious too-high slits and no breast-a-licious cleavage (Thank You Julia!). I also liked her modern hair and the earrings. I hope, though, she lightens up on the too-heavy makeup. Score: 9.9

Miss North Carolina USA Katie Coble: LOVED this gold gown worn by Miss North Carolina USA. It was my second favorite. The gown featured gold lame pleated fabrication and great criss-cross torso draping detail. The style gave me a definite "Old Hollywood" vibe, harking back to the 1930s and 1940's days of Lauren Bacall, Jean Harlow and Marlene Dietrich with a nod to Cleopatra. The look was unique and stood out, for all the right reasons. Score: 9.89

Miss Kansas USA Catherine Carmichael: Catherine was a STUNNER last night during the Miss USA 2017 Preliminary Evening Gown Competition. When she came out in this coral colored gown, I was like "OK, NOW we're talking!". The crepe gown--which fit her perfectly playing up her 6' 1" tall statuesque beauty--featured a multicolored sequined bodice and DIVA-like dramatic chiffon back cape which she modeled as if THE RENT WAS DUE! Every pageant girl worth her sash needs to watch her modeling this to learn and take a lesson on how to work a gown with a chiffon cape. ASAP! She looked like a QUEEN. Score: 9.8

Miss Louisiana USA Bethany Trahan: Miss Louisina USA Bethany Brehan comes in fourth position of my Favorite Gowns of the Miss USA 2017 Preliminaries. She made quite a fashion statement with this black sequin applique-over-nude gown with iridescent organza back overskirt. The base gown was GORGEOUS: The sequin work was outstanding and it fit her to a 1/4" of her life! To be honest, I would have done without that back overskirt. I understand why it's there (drama, stage presence, etc.) but it needed to be re-thought. It did not seem organic with the beauty of the dress. Score: 9.65

Miss Nevada USA Lauren York: Lauren--who is one of the favorites to win the top crown (according to many pageant followers/missosologists on the internet) didn't disappoint in her choice of evening gown for last night's Preliminaries. She wore this very pretty column-style gown featuring a side nude illusion panel, white crepe base and unique geometric sequins and pearls. It was from Venezuelan fashion designer Dheymid Galaviz who has created many a sequined-and-crepe gown for many Miss Venezuela contestants and last year's Miss World Venezuela. Sometimes they can look similar to one of his design compatriots Gionni Straccia and at first I thought it was an Straccia gown because the sequin work looked like this: Score: 9.6

Mariam Habach Miss Lara (and eventual Miss Venezuela) at the Miss Venezuela 2016 Pageant wearing Gionni  Straccia

Miss Ohio USA 2017 Dinaleigh Baxter: One of my other Top Ten favorite gowns from the Miss USA 2017 Preliminaries was this black and fuchsia dress worn by Miss Ohio USA 2017. One of my all-time favorite color combinations are black and fuchsia mainly because Cristobal Balenciaga utilized this combination in a lot of his super stunning Haute Couture creations back in the day (Lower Photo above). So when Dinaleigh came out, I was like "You Go Girl!". Her gown had a very fitted black velvet base gown with plunging sweetheart neckline and a GORGEOUS satin cape that was precariously knotted and twisted into these tiny shoulder straps. It was dramatic, entrance-making and yes, VERY fashionable and Cristobal Balenciaga-like. Score: 9.55

Miss New Hampshire USA Sarah Mousseau: Nice gown. BAAAD shoes. Let's discuss the dress first (please!). I liked this gown so much that yes, I included it here in my Top 10. I thought the style was impacting, suited her well...I admired the unique silver sequin work and I even liked the back overskirt. Here, in this gown it seemed a bit more natural to the rest of the gown. I also thought her hair and styling were on-point. But then, she wore those nude platform pumps!!! One question: WHY??? Where there no silver strappy shoes available? I just don't get it. It baffles the mind. NO ONE would be caught wearing these type of shoes with this type of a gown on the red carpet, black-tie gala, Haute Couture fashion show...ANYWHERE! Score: 9.3

Miss Montana USA Brooke Bezanson: I included Miss Montana USA's gown here because of its elegant simplicity and chic style. It was giving a little bit of a nod to what Miss South Dakota USA wore last year in the Finals (go to the top of this post). It was also a nice breath of fresh (Gown) air to see NO SEQUINS, NO SLIT and NO tacky platform pumps (she still made a wrong color choice in wearing NUDE shoes!). The white satin crepe gown featured a column shape highlighted by a dramatic hi-lo cape. While I liked this gown, I'm not so sure it was the right gown for Miss Montana USA. Brook is a lovely looking woman but I think this might have been more effective and had more "Diva" stage effect if it was worn by an olive-skinned or darker skin toned contestant...a "Miss Venezuela" or "Miss Curacao"-type.  It also needed to be just 1" longer. Score: 9.25

Miss Tennessee USA Allee-Sutton Hethcoat: In 9th place of my Top Ten Favorite Gowns was this golden/Blush-colored sequined gown worn by Miss Tennesse USA Allee-Sutton Hethcoat. In terms of style or silhouette, there was nothing really Earth-shattering Fashion Diva about it, but it looked beautiful nonetheless. The halter-style gown fit her well and the sequin-over-nude fabric looked expensive and nice. From head to toe, this was a perfect Miss USA look. Score: 9.2

Miss Washington USA Alex Carlson-Helo: Finally, I want to give MAJOR props to Miss Washington USA Alex Carlson-Helo. While I liked her black sequined gown and thought it was impacting, I just about FELL OFF MY COUCH when I saw that she was NOT wearing those tacky nude platform pumps that EVERY OTHER contestant wore: She wore the PERFECT strappy black heels! Who knew that these women actually had other choices?? And for her perfect shoe choice, Miss Washington USA belonged in my Top Ten list! Score: 9.2

**UP NEXT: The UH OH/Oh No She Didn't/Could Have Been Better...of Miss USA 2017 Preliminary Evening Gowns

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