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SASHES AND TIARAS.....MISS UNIVERSE 2017 National Costumes: My TOP 20!

Kimono Diva: Miss Universe Japan Momoko Abe wows the audience at the Miss Universe 2017 National Costume Presentation, Planet Hollywood Las Vegas

             Photos Courtesy of Missosology Facebook Page, HO/The Miss Universe Organization

In the run-up to Sunday night's Miss Universe 2017 Beauty Pageant Finals, the 92 contestants (Yes, NINETY TWO!) have been participating in pageant-related events, photo-ops, rehearsals and of course, actual competition events. One of these--not really associated with who eventually wins the Miss Universe crown, but still A FAVORITE of Pageant Fans--is the National Costume Presentation.

Kimonos, Sequins, Mirrors and Feathers--Miss Universe 2017 National Costumes Presentation, Planet Hollywood Hotel & Casino Las Vegas

This past Sunday was the much-anticipated "Miss Universe 2017 National Costume Presentation", which showcased the "National Costumes" of the 92 contestants. The show usually takes place on the "big stage" but I assume the stage wasn't ready (or was it already being used by Britney?) since it took place on the Mezzanine of the Planet Hollywood Las Vegas Hotel & Casino. Well, the show happened and here are my TOP 20 FAVES from the Miss Universe 2017 National Costumes, beginning with Number One:

No. 1: Miss Universe Japan Momoko Abe--Momoko's National Costume for Japan BROUGHT THE HOUSE DOWN! She wore a costume that started as a Ninja Warrior--all in black--which then (after a a slight tug-and-pull from her hand at the shoulder), quickly became a FABULOUS brightly printed Kimono Dress. I don't know how many times she had to practice that to get it right but, it was FLAWLESS and brought "Oh No She Didn't" Oooh's & Ahhh's from people who forgot to read my BLOG HERE. It should win The Best National Costume, if there is such a contest and if it isn't judged by the "public" or internet.

2. Miss Universe Venezuela Keysi Sayago: I loved this costume when I previewed what the Miss Universe contestant's would wear as their National Costumes HERE and I still love it. So much so, that it made my No. 2 Spot. This design--by Venezuelan designer Alejandro Fajardo (who also designed her evening gown)--was inspired by the Venezuelan Woman--a "Mirrored Warrior". When she comes out, she opens up her "wings" to show off the Venezuelan flag, like a peacock's fabulous feathers. The costume represents strong, independent women--fair and balanced--intuitive, spiritual and above all, free.

3. Miss Universe Myanmar Zun Thansin: Zun wore this very massive costume which included not just her dress, but her accompanying STAGE! The costume was inspired by traditional Burmese folk orchestra which involves many instruments including drums and gongs. Folks: She literally brought the WHOLE Hsaing Waing STAGE WITH HER! It was all designed by Dr. Thazin Kin.

4. Miss Universe Canada Lauren Howe: Lauren stunned the audience with her Canadian "Queen of Ice" costume. The design was inspired by the Canadian Winters in the mountain tops of the Rockies. Check out all those elaborate and gorgeous sequins, feathers, icicles...heck, even the heels of her shoes are made to look like SNOW! Bravo! The costume was created by Bismark Martinez.

5. Miss Universe Costa Rica Elena Correa: Elena's bright and bold feathered costume is celebrating Costa Rica's  Pre-Columbian Gold Museum in the capital city, San Jose. This costume--designed by Nicaraguan designer Erick BendaƱa--features golden peacock feathers and many, many crystals. This was probably THE MOST IMPRESSIVE of those very popular Pre-Columbian feathered costumes favored by the Latin American/Caribbean contestants; a STUNNER for sure!

6. Miss Universe Thailand Maria Poonlertlarp: Maria's costume represents an ancient story depicting the existence of thunder and lightning. Designed by Prapakas Ansusingha (headdress was created by Toi Marilyn), Maria is playing the God of Thunder and brought along a doll depicting the God of Lightning. The entire design is pretty spectacular and I would DIE to be able to touch the fabrics and sequins!

7. Miss Universe Guyana Rafieya Husain: Rafieya wore this golden bedazzled costume symbolizing the World's largest single drop waterfall, known as the "Jewel of Guyana". Designed by Zara Khan, the costume features 20,000 crystals and 100 yards of crystal strands, which depict the waterfall. The rooster plumage adds a fabulous exclamation point to the entire look.

8. Miss Universe Vietnam Loan Nguyen: Loan wore this brightly colored costume which uses the traditional Vietnamese Ao Dai dress as a starting base and then takes details such as the conical hats and color combinations inspired by local festivals.The costume was designed by Nguyen Huu Bihn and was VERY IMPRESSIVE. So much so, it made the No. 9 Spot in my Top 20.

9. Miss Universe Russia Ksenia Alexandrova: Ksenia wore this stunning ballgown of a costume inspired by Russian Gzhel pottery/ceramics. The design features hand-painted flowers and delicate rhinestones and that glorious traditional Russian folk headdress. Everything about this was Russia Perfect! This costume should be re-vamped as part of a fabulous "Nutcracker Ballet" for the "Mother Gigogne" dance number, where all the kids come out from underneath!

10. Miss Universe Indonesia Bunga Jelitha: Miss Universe Indonesia chose this costume to highlight the plight of the Orangutans. Titled the "Warrior of the Orangutan", the costume tries to raise awareness of deforestation and the impact it is having on the natural habitat of the Orangutan. The look was designed by Indonesian designer Rinaldy Yunardi and features recycled "rattan", gorgeous sequin work and a faux fur vision of the beautiful Orangutan on her back (see photo above, right).

11. Miss Universe Guatemala Isel Suniga: Isel wore this costume which brought lots of "Oooh's & Ahhh's" from the audience in attendance for its colorful design and the fact that her back kite/wheel tuned! The costume was inspired by a tradition in her country where people fly kites over cemeteries to promote peace and scare off evil spirits as well as the Festival de Sumpango/Festival de Barriletes Gigantes. This was quite fabuloso!

12. Miss Universe Laos Souphaphone Somvichith: Souphaphone's traditional costume featured gorgeous Laotian silk fabrication and paid homage to the Laotian Loy Krathrong "Festival of Lights". The contestant was very referential when she did her presentation, adding to the uniqueness of her look. Before she arrived in Las Vegas, the Miss Universe Laos Organization had put out that this would be her National Costume: the last minute, it had been swiped for the "Festival of Lights" one. Did she make the right choice?

13. Miss Universe Nicaragua Berenice Quezada: Designed by Jorge Salazar Caliz, this colorful costume is named "The Slopes of Volcano Mombacho". The area where the volcano is located at is one of the 78 protected areas in Nicaragua and served as the inspiration for this costume, showcasing the variety of flora, fauna and minerals that are abundant in the volcano's area. Mombacho has more than 700 different plants registered including many orchid species. The costume is very colorful and certainly one can see the flora and fauna in it with all those flowers and feathers. It was one of my favorites in my "Preview of Miss Universe 2017 Costumes" BLOG HERE, and now it made my Top 20 Favorites!

14. Miss Universe Cayman Islands Anika Conolly: Annika's gorgeously colored costume represents the Cayman Islands Parrot, the national bird of the islands. The Cayman Islands parrot is a subspecies of the Cuban Amazon Parrot, known for its bright colors. I think the costume is made fabulously, using sequins, feathers over a glittery "nude gown" to really pay homage to this beautiful bird.

15. Miss Universe Mexico Denisse Franco: Denisse's costume was inspired by Frida Kahlo, of course, as one can see from the image above. The costume is  based on the traditional dress "La Tehuana" from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in the state of Oaxaca. The dress is known for its colorful design and artisanal hand-done embroidery. I loved this costume and homage to Frida by Miss Universe Mexico; she had the drawn-in eyebrows, the artists brush, palette and the flowers on her head Kahlo was known for. Many people on the web (of course!), supposedly have been criticizing Denisse and the costume because (wait for it!)...she wore THE CORSET ON THE OUTSIDE, as opposed to tucked under the skirt. Ayyyy Dios Mio!! I guess these people forgot that these "National Costumes" are "inspirations" and creative visions of the designers and not necessarily have to be EXACT traditional versions; go to a shop or museum for that. The Miss Universe National Costume Presentation is not for 100% exact traditional wear--there are sequined and feathered BODYSUITS trying to represent BIRDS here for heaven's sakes!

16. Miss Universe Trinidad and Tobago Yvonne Clarke: Yvonne got my attention with her very bright feathered and sequined costume. This look was inspired by the Cocrico--also known as the Tobago pheasant--the only game bird found in the island of Tobago, known for its color, long tail and "quaint" (read: Annoying!) morning calls.

17. Miss Universe Puerto Rico Danna Hernandez: Made by hand with the help of an electric generator because there was  no electricity (!), this costume for Miss Universe Puerto Rico depicts the vivid color of red representing the happiness and passion of Puerto Rico. Designed and made by Jaer Caban, the costume is inspired by the Royal Poinciana--also known as "The Flamboyant Tree", the red flowers can be seen in the back "Wings" of her costume. And naturally, she's proudly holding a sequined flag of Puerto Rico.

18. Miss Universe Spain Sofia del Prado: Inspired by the Spanish artist Salvador Dali, the costume incorporates some of his most iconic works and images including his famous mustache, the melting watches from "The Persistence of Memory" and "Landscaping With Butterflies" paintings, the "Mae West Lips" as well as "Eye of Time" jewels. I thought this was a cool "artistic" homage to an iconic Spanish genius.

19. Miss Universe Philippines Rachel Peters: In the No. 19 spot, I had to add Rachel Peters Miss Universe Philippines for simply looking like A SEX BOMB in her "national costume". When she stepped out onto the stage, I was like "Someone give her the SEXIEST National Costume Award NOW!". Her costume was inspired by the Sarimanok--or "Golden Chicken"--a legendary bird of the Maranao people from Mindanao. The bird is supposed to be a symbol of fortune for the Maranao people. Dubai-based designer Val Taguba designed the golden swimsuit and overskirt and Jojo Bragais designed the knee high shoes. While it might not have been such a showstopper like Miss Universe Japan's or Myanmar's "Entire Burmese Orchestra Stage" costume, it was still HOT HOT HOT!

20. Miss Universe Peru Prissila Howard: To round out my Top 20 national Costumes of Miss Universe 2017, I wanted to add another golden sexy look--this time from Peru. Prissila wore a Gold Inca Empress costume, entitled "Warrior of the Sun: Queen of the Incas". The look represents the strength, respect and knowledge of the ancient Peruvian woman. The gold represents the Sun God of the Incas. The costume was designed by Beto Pinedo and is meant to show the power of women.

**Which one is YOUR FAVORITE Costume?? Is Your FAVORITE on my Top 20 List here?

And don't forget about my NEW "The Pageant Coloring Book"! Where you can create your very own Evening Gown Competition with 25 of my hand-drawn Pageant Queen illustrations. Click HERE to purchase NOW on

5 Responses to "SASHES AND TIARAS.....MISS UNIVERSE 2017 National Costumes: My TOP 20!"

Jorge Ochoa Hernandez said...

Hi Nick good review the only detail is the observation on the corset used outside by Miss Mexico the actual reference of that white corset is related to an accident that Frida Kahlo had in the Mexico City train wich broke her spine in several parts that forced her to use a cast corset for some time putting her to suffer a lot of pain so even that idea is accurate

I Made Kesumayasa said...

The ninja-to-kimono outfits is really a genius idea and very innovative. It's not huge but it was able to give the audience a wow moment and I agree with you that it should be the winner. I can't wait for your review for the evening gown competition.

sheldon said...

I completely and thousand percent agree that JAPAN should win the Best National Costume. Never seen like that ever! It was very genius and unique.

Lisa Olga said...

Wow...that's some big plastic surgery in the Asia contingent. Utterly disgusting that this pageant biz is promoting a homogenized look rather than the beauty of diversity. It's as if all roses suddenly became a single typical cheap red "dozen roses" rose. It says that women are a commodity that should be standardized for the male gaze...and that is fucking disgusting.

Hamster Nice said...

beautiful costumes symbolic and iconic as it is but I wish that for future Miss Philippines national costume a Visayan festival will be featured which is the DINAGYANG FESTIVAL.