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SASHES AND TIARAS.....Miss Venezuela 2017 Finals: Winner + TOP 15 EVENING GOWNS!

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La Mas Bella: outgoing "Miss Venezuela 2016" Keysi Sayago crowns the new "Miss Venezuela 2017" Sthefany Gutierrez who was "Miss Delta Amacuro"--Miss Venezuela 2017 Finals, Caracas Venezuela

Some Photos Courtesy of MissVenezuela.com

This Thursday evening was the Finals of  one of the most anticipated beauty pageants in the world: Miss Venezuela 2017! For a short time, many pageant fans even wondered--especially since what the country has been going through--if the pageant would still happen or if they would even send contestants to "Miss Universe" and "Miss World" but Yes, Yes, and Yes, to all those inquiring mind's questions.

Top Three: (L to R) Miss Venezuela International Mariem Velezco, Miss Venezuela 2017 Sthefany Gutierrez and Miss Venezuela World Veruska Ljubisavljevic

Venezuela has the largest oil reserves IN THE WORLD but it has recently been going through some unfortunate problems. According to Reuters, the country's inflation has risen to 826% and according to The Guardian, 10 million skip a meal a day, 9/10 homes can't cover the cost of food and 3/4 of Venezuelans have lost weight an average of 20 lbs as a result of not being able to feed themselves or buy food. It's all so sad but...in Venezuela, THE SHOW MUST GO ON!!! None of the unspeakable hardships could stop the 65th Annual Miss Venezuela Beauty Pageant... 

Ayyyy Dios Mio!--Stefhany Gutierrez is the new "Miss Venezuela"--Miss Venezuela 2017 Finals, Caracas Venezuela

Fiesta Time: Celebrating the 65th Anniversary of Miss Venezuela--Venezuelan singer/icon/diva Mirla Castellanos plus entertainers Jordán Mendoza, José Andrés Padrón, Natalia Moretti and Los Boys as well as hosts of the Miss Venezuela 2017 Beauty Pageant

As you may know, I grew up in Caracas Venezuela from the late 60's until the late 70's and it was a much different country than what it is now. But I will always have a special place in my heart for that South American nation. The "Miss Venezuela" Beauty Pageant inspired me to be a designer and to sketch--and particularly draw beautiful women in fabulous gowns. And now, it has inspired me to co-author my new "Pageant Coloring Book".

Sthefany Fernandez "Miss Delta Amacuro" and now, "Miss Venezuela 2017"

Now, speaking of pageants, time to discuss the WINNER as well as all the sequins, crystals and very expensive silk seen in this year's "Miss Venezuela 2017". First the winner: The representative of "Delta Amacuro" Sthefany Gutierrez, beat out 23 other beautiful women to get the coveted George Wittels-designed crown.

Sthefany is ONLY 18 years old (most recent winners have been in their early 20's), stands 176M (5' 9") and works as a model. She does not have the typical blond "Barbie" Miss Venezuela look but was still a favorite with her olive skin, gorgeous long black hair and perfect figure. She will now spend the next 12 months preparing for NEXT YEAR'S edition of Miss Universe (and hopefully learning English, if she doesn't already know it); even though she is "Miss Venezuela 2017", she will compete in the "Miss Universe 2018" Beauty Pageant.

Sequin Parade: Miss Venezuela 2017 contestants during the Evening Gown Competition Fashion Show

And now...THE GOWNS: I have NO IDEA how the Miss Venezuela Organization paid for what it costs to create these Couture-worthy gowns (especially since most Venezuelans can't even buy Harina P.A.N.!) but this year's pageant featured some intricate and UBER Glam gowns, in fact this was one of the BEST "Miss Venezuela" Gown Fashion Shows in a long time! With that said, here are my TOP 15 BEST LIST, starting with my Number One Choice, which just happened to be THE WINNER "Miss Delta Amacuro":

1. Miss Delta Amacuro (and eventual Miss Venezuela 2017 winner) Sthefany Gutierrez--Of all the 24 gowns during the "Miss Venezuela 2017 Desfile de Traje de Noche" (Evening Gown Fashion Show), this strapless sequined gown was my top favorite! The crinoline based gown was completely covered in crystals and featured a sweetheart neckline with a creme silk ziberline inner dress. The gown was designed by Alejandro Fajardo and was stage-impacting, fit gorgeously and looked like Gown Couture Art!
Score: 9.98

2. Miss Distrito Capital Sofia Santa Rodriguez--My second best gown score goes to the design worn by "Miss Distrito Capital" (she represented the capital city of Caracas). This silk gazar ballgown--designed by Alejandro Fajardo (same designer of the winner's gown)--featured a plunging neckline and conic/godet shaped pieces that formed the architectural shape of this incredible dress. I also loved the contestant's styling of her swept-back chic hair and earrings. Even one of the co-hosts--while describing the dress during the show--had to concur that this gown was SPECTACULAR!
Score: 9.85

3. Miss Potuguesa Nariman Batthika: Nariman wore this powder pink colored gown designed by Venezuelan designer Nidal Nouaihed. This was another stunning design worthy of those good ol' days of Venezuelan Couturiers like Guy Meliet. The dress featured that very popular "nude gown" tulle netting style, all covered in crystals, bugle beads and pearls in varying sizes. Through extraordinary patternmaking and technical artistry, his atelier then attached a voluminous pink satin overskirt. Beautiful!
Score: 9.70 

4. Miss Zulia Mariangel Galban: Miss Zulia came at the end of the Miss Venezuela 2017 Evening Gown Fashion Show because her state Zulia was the last one--in terms of alphabetical order. After a slew of endless all-over sequined/crystal, nude/gold/blush colored gowns...this GORGEOUS vision of red silk ziberline appeared and I literally got up from my couch and clapped! (I know, I'm gown-silly like that!). This "Valentino Red" color dress made of Italian silk ziberline was designed by designer Joan Delgado and he did a marvelous job. It was dramatic, elegant and architectural.
Score: 9.65

5. Miss Barinas Mariem Velazco: This white gown from designer Alejandro Fajardo is my 5th pick. The dress was A LOT but somehow, it worked. The gown, which was made of silk crepe and gazar featured an asymmetrical column dress with nude panels, covered in incredible silver sequin applique. It looked like a Wedding Gown from "Game of Thrones" (or at least MY dream-like "Game of Thrones"!).
Score: 9.50

6. Miss Aragua Oriana Rodriguez: This dress above was the gown worn by Miss Aragua Oriana Rodriguez for the Finals of Miss Venezuela 2017. The design was made of ivory silk crepe and nude illusion, cut into panels that created a fit-and-flare silhouette. The beautifully-fitting dress was designed by Julio Mora and featured thousands of degrade-style crystals. I loved the heavy-to-light sequin work and the panels were done in an exquisitely sexy yet not vulgar manner. Muy bien!
Score: 9.40

7. Miss Vargas Versuska Ljubisavljevic: This royal blue colored sequined gown--designed by Benito Santos--was one of the most striking dresses of the pageant. The color was bold and stage-impacting. Inspired by an "Ocean Queen", the design featured thousands of Austrian crystals, an illusion panel neckline and silver crystal waist.
Score: 9.35

8. Miss Nueva Esparta Yerardy Montoya: Yearady wore an ensemble/gown which included an extravagant cape made of thousands of ostrich as well as Coque/rooster feathers fully lined in pink silk satin. She started with this and then released her coat/cape to reveal a beautiful pink sequined applique gown. It was a VERY INTENSE entrance which I admired and the entire look was quite fabulous!
Score: 9.25

9. Miss Falcon Bilianniz Alvarez: Bilianniz wore this golden/nude gown designed by Hugo Espina. The gown featured a column shape with a nude tulle base and golden colored "petal"-like sequins in varying sizes. It was simple, sequin-stunning and an impressive Pageant Fab gown.
Score: 9.20

 

10. Miss Tachira Maria Sofia Contreras: Maria Sofia wore this silver/ivory/lilac/nude gown from designer Dheymid Galaviz. It was pretty impressive! The gown featured 10,000+ pastel colored sequins sewn on the gown, a "plunging" neckline with nude illusion panel, as well as dramatic back falls...oh and yes, there were baby blue colored ostrich feathers on the hem of the gown and those falls. I would have probably removed those feathers, otherwise, this was a VERY FABULOUS gown.
Score: 9.15

11. Miss Amazonas Megan Beci: Megan wore this golden/nude VERY Versace-like sequined gown. The dress featured asymmetric lines, a nude base and thousands of crystals. It was a clean, chic and modern gown from Colombian designer Alfredo Barraza, known for creating gowns for these Colombian beauties:
 Score: 9.10

12. Miss Merida Yoselin Rojas: This fit-and-flare shaped gown was designed by Carlos Ferrera and featured a "nude" tulle base with 300 meters of crystals and pearls sewn in a magnificent manner covering all the necessary parts. She looked like an Ice Queen! And I have to add: Notice that in this and all the other "nude"/see-through gowns there was NEVER any tacky inner lining as we saw in the gowns worn by Miss Grand Indonesia and Miss Grand South Sudan at the "Miss Grand International" HERE. Well done Carlos!
Score: 9.00

13. Miss Yaracuy Rosangela Matos: When the co-announcer was describing this Honicer Sandoval gown, she said it was Art Nouveau and Art Deco-inspired. Not sure where that "inspiration" is (maybe the gold?) but it was an impressive work of fashion art! The mermaid-shaped dress featured 30,000 gold and amber crystals fitted very close to her body, showcasing the lines of the strapless bustier and shaped skirt, all culminating in hundreds of Coque/rooster feathers. Notice the heavy-to-light crystal work...and the silver crystals that looked like exaggerated princess seams. While it was slightly gaudy, it still looked rich and fabulously extravagant. Rosangela looked like she was OOZING gold!
Score: 8.99

14. Miss Miranda Oriana Gil: At No. 14, I wanted to add this design by Carlos Ferrera worn by Miss Miranda Oriana Gil. First off: She is GORGEOUS! OK, frankly, they ALL were! Moving on... when she walked out, she wore this Empire-waist tulle concoction and at first I thought "Ooooh, someone is trying to give a Giambattista Valli Moment"(and not so well!) and then I thought "I bet she's going to remove it ASAP!" (I hope!). And she did...well, kind of; when she untied it, it drew gasps since, it turned into the overskirt of a quite stunning sequined column gown that she was hiding underneath. The tulle thing was a MESS and did not flatter her at all and then it looked so unnecessary once she displayed the dress underneath. The saving graces were: Oriana was GORGEOUS (I think I already said that!), and the inner dress was quite pretty.
Score: 8.85

15. Miss Sucre Zharat Bruzal: Last but not least, I included this ivory colored gown worn by Miss Sucre. The dress looked well-done and was VERY "Miss Venezuela" circa 1980's; look at the crystal bustier, the cascade overskirt, those OUT OF CONTROL earrings AND THAT HAIR!!!! OMG!!! I literally thought I was 8 years old and still back in Caracas watching Gilberto Correa hosting this darn over-the-top show! And for that, I had to include her!
Score: 8.10

CONGRATULATIONS & Felicitaciones to Sthefany Gutierrez and her "Miss Venezuela 2017" Royal Court!! 

And don't forget to go to AMAZON.COM to Purchase my NEW "The Pageant Coloring Book". There are over 25 hand-drawn Pageant Gown Sketches for you to create your very own Evening Gown Competition! Click HERE to purchase:

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