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SASHES AND TIARAS.....BEST OF 2017: Best NATIONAL COSTUMES of 2017: My TOP 20 LIST!

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The Best of the BEST: National Costumes from International Beauty Pageants during the past year of 2017 (L to R) Miss Earth Philippines; Miss Universe Japan; Miss Grand Indonesia; Miss Universe Thailand; and Miss Universe Venezuela.

It's that time again: Time for BEST OF Lists! Here, in my BLOG, I love discussing lots of my favorite subjects including Red Carpet Fashion "Who Wore What", Figure Skating Costumes "Ice Style" and Beauty Pageants "Sashes And Tiaras", of course so...for my first BEST OF 2017, I'm starting with my TOP 20 BEST NATIONAL COSTUMES of 2017 international beauty pageants. Almost all the top international beauty pageants had their own "National Costumes" competitions as seen in the Miss Universe, Miss Grand International, Miss Earth, Miss International and so on. Miss World has it's "Dances of the World" competition/segment showcasing the contestants in traditional dress doing dances related to their countries but, it really doesn't have a National Costume contest and since they are expected to dance in them the costumes tend to be less "dramatic"... 


Costumes Sketches: (Clockwise from the top) Miss Grand Vietnam; Miss Universe Thailand; Miss Universe Myanmar; Miss Universe Singapore; Miss Grand Venezuela; and Miss Universe Guyana

After looking at many, many National Costumes from this year's international beauty pageants, Two things stood out this year: 1) Some pageants were stronger in terms of their National Costume offerings this year--particularly Miss Universe and Miss Grand International and 2) The contestants from Asia really brought their Costume "A" Game, continuing their trajectory of being super creative as well as super lavish in their designs, so Kudos to those designers taking this art to another level!

Let's take a look at some of my TOP 20 FAVORITES of 2017:
1. Miss Grand Indonesia 2017 Dea Goesti Rizkita-- This elaborate and very EXTRAORDINARY costume was my TOP Costume of 2017. All you have to do is look at the photos and you'll be like "Yep! Done & Done!". This costume, entitled "MOTHERLAND: The Sky is my Father, and The Earth is my Mother" and designed by Morphacio and Maya Ratih, has the meaning of a circular shape taken from the base form of the Moon and its about the mother figure, the queen, and the woman.  It was THE BEST ONE of the Miss Grand International 2017 competition and now, my pick for Best of 2017. I loved how impacting it was; the colors, the unique shapes, gorgeous crystal and metallic artisanal craftsmanship...all of this combined made this design a work of fashion art!
Score: 9.99



No. 2: Miss Universe Japan Momoko Abe--Momoko's National Costume for Japan BROUGHT THE HOUSE DOWN when she debuted it at the Miss Universe 2017 Preliminary Competition. 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 front of her top), 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 the audience. Back when I first reviewed it, I thought it should win the Miss Universe 2017 "Best National Costume" prize and...IT DID! It was creative, definitely original in its transformation and still honored Japanese Traditional Dress--TWICE!
Score: 9.90


3. Miss Grand India Anukriti Gusain--Anukriti's gorgeous costume was my third favorite of 2017. The theme for this look was "Evolution and Expansion of Indian Royalty, from the Palace to the workplace". The national costume--designed by Melvyn Dominic Noronha--shows the balance of an Indian woman with her delicate beauty of compassion and the strength of her determination. I loved how this costume combined traditional Indian dress with Hindu God-like imagery as well as a wonderful tribute to Indian women. The costume was rich and regal, had a strong stage impact and was incredible in its silk, gold and hand-sewn embroidery. 
Score: 9.80 


4. Miss Grand Laos Chinnaly Norasing--I LOVED this "Temple" costume worn by Miss Grand Laos at the Miss Grand International 2017 beauty pageant. This national costume was inspired by the Great Golden Stupa Pha That Luang in Vientiane, the capital city of Laos. The Great Golden Stupa Pha That Luang is an ancient and important architecture of Laos, and a center for the spirit of the Lao people. The design of the costume is unique and definitely stage impacting! The jewelry in the costume was inspired by the shape of the Buddha image and the gold and red colors and various embellishments represent Lao's cultures, customs and unique identity. I thought it was thoroughly impacting, very striking and made for a stand-out costume presence at the Miss Grand International 2017 National Costume Competition. I am still so baffled how any of these costumes get packed and shipped through customs and onto a plane and then reassembled to be worn again! 
Score: 9.75


5.  Miss Earth Philippines Karen Ibasco-- During the Miss Earth 2017 National Costumes Competition, Karen won the "Gold Medal" (Best Costume) for Asia, and she got MY GOLD PRIZE for BEST COSTUME of all the contestants at Miss Earth 2017! Her costume was a Filipiniana Terno designed by Louis Pangilinan and simply put, it was EXTRAORDINARY! From the statement-making necklace, to the off-the-shoulder Mantilla top, to the fan, to the intricately designed and cross patterned multi-godet paneled Charles James-like crinoline gown-skirt, it was a WOW! Kudos to the designer and all the very talented artists and sewers who made this; this costume should be a museum of Miss Philippines National Costumes ASAP!
Score: 9. 75



6. Miss Universe Myanmar Zun Thansin-- There is always one--or two or three contestants that "Fall Out" with a SUPER OUTRAGEOUS national costume in these important international beauty pageants and for 2017, Miss Universe Myanmar takes this top title! Her costume was inspired by Hsaing Waing/Myanmar Traditional Orchestra, a musical ensemble only found in Myanmar and usually played in very formal ceremonies which is composed of 13 traditional musical instruments. Zun came onstage during the Miss Universe 2017 National Costumes Competition and carefully showed the audience how her costume was not just her dress but she BROUGHT THE STAGE with her! This was all designed by someone by the name (and title) of Dr. Thazin Khin...and God Bless Him!
Score: 9.70


7. Miss Universe Venezuela Keysi Sayago-- Venezuela's contestant, Keysi Sayago, wore one of my favorite National Costumes of the year at Miss Universe 2017. The costume, entitled  "Venezuelan Warrior" included a metallic silver jumpsuit-like costume and a very glorious "wing" of the Venezuelan flag, It represented the brave Venezuelan women, described as one who rises to the adversity of the present and the future with great history in its sword (coat of arms), worthy thoughts in the present (Bolivar medal), and fair and balanced, intuitive and spiritual protector and above all free (colorful wings of the macaw). The costume (silver part) is made of mirror acrylics making it look like a metallic shell. The overall effect is this strong, powerful Venezuelan woman ready to fight whatever battles and hardships come her way. It was designed by Alejandro Fajardo who designed many of the GORGEOUS gowns seen at the Miss Venezuela 2017 Beauty Pageant.
Score: 9.65

8. Miss International Japan Natsuki Tsutsui-- Miss International Japan won the "Best Costume" and for my Best of 2017, she gets in at No. 8. I thought it was THE BEST of the Miss International 2017 Beauty Pageant for sure and therefore that award was well deserved. When she first walked out onto the stage in this, I just about fell off the couch and gave her (and whoever designed this) a standing ovation! This was a super-chic Haute Couture version of a Geisha Diva: There is just no other way to describe it! The silk satin organza padded striped coat, the emerald green and black gown, the glittering fringe...and then, there was her FABULOUS makeup and hair/headdress! This reminded me of a Christian Dior Haute Couture ensemble from the days of John Galliano. 
Score: 9.55


9. Miss Grand Vietnam Huyen My Tran Nguyen--I absolute ADORED this costume worn by Miss Grand Vietnam 2017 Huyen My Tran Nguyen during the Miss Grand International 2017 Beauty Pageant. The costume represented a traditional Ao Dai and was inspired by the patterns of the Hue Imperial Citadel in the central province of Thua Thien-Hue. It took 3 months to create this gorgeous 30 kilograms (about 66 pounds!)-weighing costume and it was designed by Vietnamese designer Ngo Nhat Huy. This was one of the most outstanding representations of a "Traditional Dress" in international beauty pageants this past year.
Score: 9.60


10. Miss Universe Thailand Maria Poonlertlarp-- Making my Top 20 Best Costumes of 2017 at Number 10, it's Miss Universe Thailand: Maria's costume represents an ancient story depicting the existence of thunder and lightning. Designed by Prapakas Ansusingha--with the headdress 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, involving incredible fabrications, golden embroidery, a fabulous costume PLUS a lit-up doll! I love when the contestants put on a mini show, as part of their "National Costume" presentation. Bravo!
Score: 9.55

11. Miss Universe Vietnam Loan Nguyen-- This was my second most-liked National Costume from a representative of the Asian nation of Vietnam. 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, fan, and color combinations inspired by local festivals.The costume was designed by Nguyen Huu Bihn and was VERY IMPRESSIVE.
Score: 9.50



12. Miss Universe Canada Lauren Howe-- Miss Universe Canada 2017 becomes my first North American contestant to make my Top 20 Best Costumes of 2017 in this gorgeous design. The very stage-impacting costume was inspired by the Canadian Rocky Mountains and features feathers, silver sequins and lights! I especially LOVE when a Beauty Pageant National Costume is a head-to-toe look and this was a perfect example: Notice the snow-like covered sequined shoes! Many times you have these contestants wear these outstanding costumes but then, they wear nude platform pumps from (name a shoe company): That's just lazy designing. But here, it was the opposite and I applaud it. The look, which was designed by Nicaraguan designer Bismarck Martinez, was entitled "Queen of Ice", and looking at the photos, she sure looks liked one!
Score: 9.48


13. Miss Universe Guatemala Isel Suniga-- Isel wore this costume for the Miss Universe 2017 National Costume Competition and it brought lots of "Oooh's & Ahhh's" from the audience in attendance for its colorful design and the fact that her back kite/wheel turned! 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 and once again, I was happy that it wasn't just one of those very popular "Pre-Columbian" costumes/Victoria's Secret Angel Costumes but the fact that her "wings"--i.e. kite--turned and she put on a mini show!
Score: 9.25


14. Miss Supranational Indonesia Karina "Nina" Nadila--This outstanding costume, designed by Jember Fashion Carnivalmade No. 14 in my Top 20 Best of 2017 National Costumes List. The costume represents Lembuswana, a Mythological animal and a symbol of the power and sovereignty of a ruler. Headed lions and crowns symbolize the might of a king who is considered the ruler and the crown is a sign of the king's power which is considered a God. Her fierce wielding fangs flanking her trunk signifies the symbolic figure of Ganesha, the God of Intelligence. Winged Garuda with wings that can be moved as a symbol that wings ready to fly noble ideals sky-high and scaly fish which represents a protector and a leader among the people. The color of gold as the majesty and grey color as the color of the soil, symbolizes the attitude remains grounded and humble. I thought the overall design was SUPER fab and if I ever encountered a Lembuswana...I would be very, very afraid...but still probably would want to take a Selfie with it! 
Score: 9.10


15. Miss Universe Costa Rica Elena Correa-- Elena's bright and bold feathered costume made No. 15 in my Top 20 Best of 2017 List because I thought it was one of the most grand and effective of the Latina American Pre-Columbian Empress costumes. The design celebrated Costa Rica's  Pre-Columbian Gold Museum in the capital city, San Jose. This costume was designed by Nicaraguan designer Erick BendaƱa and 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!
Score: 9.15



16. Miss Universe Nicaragua Berenice Quezada: Designed by Jorge Salazar Caliz, this colorful costume is named "The Slopes of Volcano Mombacho" and because of its colorful, elaborately embroidered--and very festive!--design, I had to put it in my my Top 20 Best National Costumes of 2017. The area where this Nicaraguan volcano is located 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. It is a stunning work of costume delight!
Score: 9.00


17. Miss Supranational Thailand Gift Jiraprapa Boonnuang--Miss Supranational Thailand 2017's costume made my Top 20 List because it was a perfect vision of a traditional Thai Style Goddess. Thai Temple Goddess. I admired the intricately beaded and embroidered costume and especially loved how it was designed from head to toe. The sequined fabrication was beyond gorgeous and the style was Haute Couture beautiful, and that mini-temple headdress was exquisite! Oh, and yes, I also loved how even her shoes matched the entire costume. 
Score: 8.99


18. Miss Earth Guatemala Maria Jose Castaneda: Guatemala does it again! Maria Jose's costume won the "Gold Medal" for Central and North America in terms of Best National Costumes at the Miss Earth 2017 National Costumes Competition and it was well deserved. This gorgeous creation was designed by Guatemalan designer Cesar Alejandro Portillo and he did an exceptional job with this look. I loved the fabric, colors, that amazing feathered headdress. It certainly was one of the most impressive costumes of the Miss Earth 2017 Beauty Pageant and in my eyes, had to be in my Top 20 Best National Costumes of 2017.
Score: 8.85


19. Miss Earth Nepal Rojina Shrestha: I was a big fan of this gorgeous costume worn by Miss Earth Nepal 2017 for many reasons: I loved the colors, stunning silk fabric and very impressive design. The mixing of the Sari with the Hindu gods imagery made this for a very regal looking costume.
Score: 8.50


20. Miss Universe Malaysia Samantha James: Last on my list, I wanted to add one of the most talked about National Costumes at the Miss Universe 2017 Beauty Pageant: Miss Universe Malaysia. The costume was inspired by A DISH--in fact, Nasi Lemak, the beloved national dish (usually served for breakfast) of Malaysia--featuring fragrant rice cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaf. The dress designed by Brian Khoo and featured hand embroidered rhinestones to symbolize rice grains. On the left side of the dress, there are red rhinestones to symbolize the spicy sambal that accompanies each Nasi Lamak dish. The costume also included other accompaniments in Nasi Lamak such as sliced cucumbers, fried peanuts, anchovies and an egg! Just look at the close-up photo above of all the amazing sequin work! Speaking of work, the gown took 400 hours of craftsmanship and a month to make. While this costume wasn't as stage-impacting or National Costume Haute Couture impressive as some of the others (No lights!!?? No actual stage like "Miss Universe Myanmar" or costume change a la Miss Universe Japan??!!), it was memorable for its unique interpretation of a traditional dish.
Score: 8.40


Extra:
Miss Earth Belgium Lauralyn Vermeersch: I had to add Lauralyn's "French Fries" costume just because it was sooooo KOOKY! In case you are wondering, French Fries are actually from Belgium: Historians claim that potatoes were being fried, since the late 1600's (!), in Belgium. Soooo, yeah, that's Miss Earth Belgium's national costume: She was wearing a sack of fries. It wasn't traditional or National Costume Couture Fab but....it was kind of fun and original. 

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 amazon.com:

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