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Best of the Best: Best Pageant Gowns of 2017: (L to R) Miss Venezuela 2017 Sthefany Gutierrez, Miss Universe Thailand Maria Poonlertlarp, Miss International 2017 from Indonesia Kevin Lilliana, Iris Mittenaere Miss Universe 2016, and Stephanie Del Valle Miss World 2016

Time for MY FAVORITE "Best of 2017" BLOG: BEST PAGEANT GOWNS OF 2017! As you know--if you read my BLOG and especially my "Sashes And Tiaras" Blog here--I love discussing Pageant Gowns as well as Pageant National Costumes...heck, I even wrote a "Pageant Coloring Book" to honor my love and to have others out there who enjoy it too have some Pageant Gown Sketching Fun!

Pageant Illustrator: Nick Verreos sketches of (L to R) Miss Grand International 2017, Maria Jose Lora; Miss International 2017 Kevin Lilliana; Miss Universe 2016 Iris Mittenaere; Miss World 2016 Stephanie Del Valle

So...yes, I love me some pageants and now, following my BLOG tradition of doing "Best Of" Lists, here is my BEST OF 2017: Pageant Gowns Edition. These are my TOP 15 BEST GOWNS from some of the top beauty pageants across the world, including Miss Universe, Miss World, Miss International, Miss Supranational, Miss Grand International, Miss Earth, Miss Venezuela, Miss Universe Philippines/Binibining Pilipinas, and Miss USA.

Let's begin with my No. 1 BEST OF 2017 PAGEANT GOWN:
1. Miss International 2017, Kevin Lilliana Miss International Indonesia: Miss International Indonesia, the beautiful Kevin Lilliana, wore THE BEST GOWN of the Miss International 2017 Finals and No. 1 FAVORITE of the entire year! I absolutely loved her aquamarine sequined gown designed by Ivan Gunawan. The dress--entitled "Thallasa: Mother of Sea" featured exquisite textured sequined applique on a slight fit-and-flared column gown and beautiful silk chiffon sleeve capes...

Indonesian Sea Queen: The gown was inspired by the blue water surrounding Indonesia and it was impacting even if she didn't have a fan blowing the chiffon, like in the staged studio photos above! This was a SUPERB gown!

2. Miss Universe Thailand Maria Poonlertlarp: When Maria entered the stage in this midnight blue shimmering gown at last month's Miss Universe 2017 Finals, I just about fell off my chair and started shouting "COUTURE DAHLEEENG COUTURE!!!". I LOVED this stunning gown designed by Asava Thailand . This design had DRAMA, chic style, elegance, stage-impact (the beautiful blue and silver sequins!) and an homage to traditional Thai dresses with those GORGEOUS shoulder "flaps" and back tulle capes. Maria looked like an imaginary FASHION Empress of Thailand!

3. Miss World 2016 Stephanie Del Valle:  When Stephanie came out in this glorious blue gown, I literally was screaming at the TV: BRAVISIMA! Del Valle was last year's winner of Miss World and therefore, this was her "Giving Up Her Crown" Gown at this year's Miss World. This gown was EVERYTHING: The dress, created by Puerto Rican designer Carlos Albertofeatured a light blue-over-nude sequined slightly fit-and-flare gown with azure chiffon back capes and thousands upon thousands of the MOST EXQUISITE crystals in deep blue, turquoise, and silver.

The off-the-shoulder style gown fit her to perfection and was OUTSTANDING at any angle! It was THE DEFINITION of a fabulous 360 degree gown. From the looks of it, the gown was inspired by the iconic Miss World crown. He used thousands of Swarovski crystals to create the very impacting jeweled details and embellishments that really made this gown ONE OF THE BEST IN A LONG TIME when it comes to pageant gowns.

4. Miss Venezuela 2017--Sthefany Gutierrez, Miss Delta Amacuro 2017 (eventual winner): Of all the 24 gowns during the Miss Venezuela 2017 Evening Gown Competition, this strapless sequined gown was my top favorite, and now, one of my TOP BEST of 2017! The crinoline based gown, designed by Alejandro Fajardo, was completely covered in crystals and featured a sweetheart neckline. It was stage-impacting, fit gorgeously and looked like Gown Couture Art! ESSSSSSStunning.

5. Miss Grand International Maria Jose Lora, Miss Grand Peru: It isn't normally the case that the eventual winner of the entire pageant wears MY FAVORITE gown happened at this year's Miss Grand International.The golden/nude/blush sequined gown was designed by Maritza Mendoza Atelier of Lima Peru and fit her to PERFECTION, skimming her figure like a very thin second skin. It looked effortless, sexy, well-made and the stage impact provided by the stunning Maria Jose was the icing on the gown cake! This was my top "Nude"-style gown at an international pageant in 2017.

6. Miss Venezuela 2017--Miss Distrito Capital 2017 Sofia Santa Rodriguez: This silk gazar ballgown--designed by Alejandro Fajardo (same designer as the winner's gown)--was my second BEST gown choice from the Miss Venezuela Pageant--a pageant which this year had A LOT of stunning designs as part of their iconic "Desfile de Trajes de Noche"/Evening Gown Fashion Show. This gown, worn by the contestant representing the Capital of Venezuela, 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 also her beautiful earrings. The dress made such an impact that even one of the hosts gasped while describing the gown, saying how "spectacular" it was. And it WAS!

7. Binibining Pilipinas/Miss Universe Philippines 2017 Pageant--Contestant #39 Elizabeth Clenci: This was by far my FAVORITE gown of the Binibining Pilipinas/Miss Universe Philippines 2017 Pageant, and therefore I had to include her in my Best of 2017 TOP 25 Gowns List. I thought this ivory one shoulder column gown was sleek, chic and super-fabulous! The look was perfect enough for the red carpet of a top awards show and so not "Pageant Betty". It was refreshing to not see a sequined/over-applique'ed gown in the pageant; it was almost like a breath of fresh air! She also was vibing a little bit of Minorka Mercado "Miss Venezuela" at the "Miss Universe 1994" with this look. Classy and supremely elegant!

8. Miss Universe 2016 Iris Mittenaere: While taking her Final Walk at this year's Miss Universe Pageant, the outgoing Miss Universe Iris Mittenaere wore this gorgeous red sequined gown from Dubai-based Filipino Designer Michael Cinco Couture. I was there in the theater in Las Vegas and let me tell you, the ENTIRE audience gasped! The strapless ombré red sequined gown featured a very plunging sweetheart neckline, a column base gown and attached crinoline-backed overskirt. She looked fabulous! The gown fit beautifully and was Couture Perfection! All I kept thinking was "THIS Ladies and Gentlemen, is how you look when giving up your crown: FIERCER and more Haute Couture than ANY of those other Miss Universe contestants!

9. Miss Universe Thailand Maria Poonlertlarb: This was by far the most Haute Couture-looking gowns of all the 92 contestants vying for Miss Universe 2017. Miss Universe Thailand chose a white shimmering gown from Thai designer/brand Surface by Joe Surface and wore it during the Miss Universe 2017 Preliminary Competition. The strapless gown was custom made for her and featured a sequined crinoline/tulle fabrication and folded cascade drapes with a back overskirt. It was dramatic, stage-impacting and Paris Runway Fab.

10. Miss Universe Venezuela Keysi Sayago: During her entire time in Las Vegas for the Miss Universe 2017 Pageant, Keysi was a fashion Diva...looking always styled to perfection at every event, rehearsal and restaurant photo-op. For the Miss Universe 2017 Preliminary Competition, she wore what turned out to be one of my TOP 25 BEST PAGEANT GOWNS of 2017. This silver/white sequined crinoline strapless design from Venezuelan designer Alejandro Fajardo. Alejandro also designed her national costume which I loved. The dress fit perfectly, hugged every part of her flawless figure and the shimmering white color stood out against her naturally tanned skin. I also loved the bun and earrings as well.

11. Miss World Indonesia Achintya Holte Nilsen: Achintya wore this beautiful creme colored gown from Indonesian brand and designer, Provocate by Melta Tan. to the Miss World 2017 Designer Dress Fashion Show/Top Model Competition, and not surprisingly, it was judged to be the BEST design. The gown was gorgeous and very Haute Couture in its style, design and perfect fit. The dress featured that very popular "nude dress" look with a see-through ivory colored silk tulle base with gold sequin applique/embroidery. The design was topped off with a stiffened overskirt that had a sweeping train and the same gold applique that was featured in the main dress. It was pretty much THE PERFECT Miss World gown and one of the Best of 2017.

12. Miss World Venezuela Ana Carolina Ugarte: Miss World Venezuela Ana Ugarte made the Top 40 at this year's Miss World and while we didn't get to see much of her, I couldn't take my eyes off of her while on stage in this beautiful pink sequined gown! The dress featured a strapless rhinestone-studded column gown with a pink duchesse satin attached overskirt. There were touches of that pink overskirt fabric in the base gown itself, as well, in draped details at the midriff and bust. I loved all of it. It was classic, elegant, looked very Haute and overall, so perfect for Miss World! Bellisima!

13. Miss Grand China Xuejia Chen: Xuejia gave you DRAMA, runway Diva and Pageant gown style when she wore this to the Miss Grand International 2017 Finals. I loved this golden/nude/blush colored sequined gown. The dress featured a "Nude"/golden base dress filled with cascading gold paillettes and a nude illusion back. She accessorized it with a dramatic sequined feathered cape that really "stole the gown show!". In fact, the judges at Miss Grand International 2017 voted this THE BEST GOWN of the night! And for all those above reasons, she is my No. 13 out of 25 Best Pageant Gowns of 2017.

14. Miss Universe Colombia Laura Gonzalez: Laura did her country proud at this year's Miss Universe, coming in second. She made me proud by wearing this stunning silver sequined dress as her final evening gown. The dress was designed by Hernan Zajar  and featured an off-the-shoulder neckline, and was completely covered in sequins (50,800 of them--all hand-sewn!) shaping her figure vertically and diagonally. The flower applique in the upper torso gave extra detail that was also nice for the close-up shots. I also loved that there was no too-high slit and the length was just right and her center-parted sleek hairstyle was perfect. Muy chic y muy linda! 

15. Miss World Philippines 2017 Pageant--Contestant No. 15 Laura Lehmann (eventual winner): As one of the many contestants at this year's Miss World Philippines, Laura Lehmann (who eventually won the pageant!) wore this beautiful red gown for the Evening Gown Competition. The strapless silk satin gown was designed by Filipino designer Mark Bumgarner and featured asymmetrical draping/pleating at the bustier and gorgeous triple folds/volants that formed an overskirt at the dress/skirt portion. It was beautifully made, looked very "Italia Alta Moda" and fit her perfectly. It was almost as if whoever "assigned" her this gown, already knew that she would win the crown. 

16. Miss World Philippines Laura Lehmann: Laura Lehmann--as well as designer Mark Bumgarner --do it again: Two for two. Laura, who went on to Sanya China to represent the Philippines at the Miss World 2017 Finals, chose to wear another red gown from Bumgarner...and why not? It was SUPER GORGEOUS! This was by far one of the BEST GOWNS worn by a Miss World 2017 contestant at this year's Finals and now of the entire year. This fabulous strapless ballgown featured a coral colored silk satin organza ballgown shape with exquisite side fold draping and an open side front slit. This reminded me of those Good Ol' Days of Angel Sanchez/Guy Melliet Miss Venezuelas. 

17. Miss World Cote D'Ivoire Mandjalia Gbane: Mandjalia wore this SUPER FAB gown above at the Miss World 2017 Designer Dress Fashion Show/Top Model Competition and darlings, she SLAYED IT! She was not only beautiful but supermodel fab, especially in her runway presentation. The brick-red colored gown itself also was great, featuring lots of drama with that outstanding cape and gold detail and the fit was impeccable. The design itself reminded me of a fabulous vintage Azzedine Alaia Diva Gown I could see Grace Jones wearing! 

18. Miss International Lithuania Patricija Belousova: THIS GOWN. Was. Everything! I thought Miss International Lithuania's dress was so chic, so Haute Couture Refined. Loved it. The design featured that popular column gown-with-attached-overskirt design but done in a clean, modern way. The dress--I think--is made of neoprene, which would be fabulous! I love that one can achieve the same kind of elegant drama, fit for an international beauty pageant, without using a single sequin!

19. Miss Venezuela 2017 Pageant--Miss Zulia Mariangel Galban: Miss Zulia came at the end of the Miss Venezuela 2017 Evening Gown Fashion Show and it did not go unnoticed by me! After a slew of endless all-over sequined/crystal, nude/gold/blush colored gowns, this GORGEOUS vision of red appeared and I literally got up from my couch and clapped! This "Valentino Red" silk ziberline dress was designed by designer Joan Delgado and looked dramatic, elegant and architectural on the lovely Mariangel. And I even loved those UBER large earrings. Fabulosa!

20. Miss Universe Ghana Ruth Quashie: I absolutely LOVED this canary yellow gown worn by Miss Universe Ghana at the Miss Universe 2017 Preliminary Competition. It made such an impact that I had to add it to my TOP 25 BEST PAGEANT GOWNS of 2017! This dress was designed by Pistis Ghana by Kabutey Dzietror  and Sumaiya Mohammed and featured yellow duchesse satin with hand-beaded Kente-style embellishments. I thought the color, style and fit were PERFECT! And the gown made Ruth a stand-out in a sea of Nude/Silver/Gold gowns at the Miss Universe 2017 Preliminaries. I was also VERY HAPPY that she wore the correct shoes and not those platform ones that too many of the contestants wore.

21. Miss USA 2017 Pageant--Miss Ohio USA 2017 Dinaleigh Baxter: This black and fuchsia dress worn by Miss Ohio USA 2017 was probably my favorite of all the gowns at the Miss USA 2017 Pageant. 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, so when Dinaleigh came out, I was like "Bravo!". 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. 

22. Miss Earth Vietnam Le Thi Ha Thu: Even though Miss Earth Vietnam got the Bronze (3rd Place), during her group in the Miss Earth 2017 Preliminary Evening Gown Competition, her golden gown was my favorite of this group and memorable enough to make it into my Best of 2017 List here. The halter neckline gown--designed by Joli Poli Vietnam--featured that VERY POPULAR gold/nude/blush coloring and had golden sequin applique designs along panels of iridescent organza. It also had a dramatic and quite fabulous cascade draped overskirt. The gown design was regal and stage impacting. 

23. Miss Universe Indonesia Bunga Jelitha: Another fashionista at this year's Miss Universe was the tall and fabulous Miss Universe Indonesia. Bunga chose this pink silk chiffon draped gown from Indonesian designer Andreas Odang which she wore at the Miss Universe 2017 Preliminary Competition. I LOVED the bubblegum pink color and the "Old Hollywood Glamour"-meets-Grecian Goddess style of the gown, as well as that gorgeously draped/gathered bustier section. I was just bummed that she didn't get to show this off on the "big stage" of the Miss Universe 2017 Finals since she didn't even make the Semi-final round. But, she made MY TOP 25!

24. Miss World Thailand Patlada Kulphakthanapak: I LOVED this elegant and classic gown design worn by Miss World Thailand to the Miss World Dress Designer /Top Model Competition. The golden silk design featured a sheath/column gown style with a dramatic "Queen of Siam"-like cape and gold sequined embellishment on the neck and back of the cape at the hem. This was one of those perfect examples of a unique gown that had "hints" of its Thai origins but still did not look like a costume and remained Runway Fab! Simple, chic and architectural. Patlada looked like a Thai royal greeting ambassadors at her royal residence!

Finally, my No. 25 BEST PAGEANT GOWN of 2017 is...
25. Miss Universe Jamaica Davina Bennett: The DIVINE Miss Universe Jamaica Davina Bennett causes many a senstation at this year's Miss Universe--and for all the right reasons: Her fabulous Afro hairstyle was EVERYTHING! She had incredible poise and answered her questions intelligently and all the while looking FAB-U-LOUS in this canary yellow gown! Normally, I would have said that this was a CRAY-CRAY-LICIOUS gown: There's A LOT going on including the sheer iridescent fabric, the oversized "Flaura & Faura" appliques, the back capes...the bright "Highlighter Yellow" color...But, Davina WORKED IT OVERTIME and made me drink the CRAY-CRAY Gown Kool-Aid! 

The gown was designed by Uzuri International, and I bow down to them, but especially Davina for bringing everyone at "The AXIS"/Planet Hollywood to their feet when she came out in this gown during the Miss Universe 2017 Finals and worked those capes OVERTIME! Every drag queen in the room was almost crying huney! And for all of that, this gown makes my Top 25 Best pageant Gowns of 2017 List. Bravo!

Which Gown was YOUR FAVORITE Pageant Gown of 2017??

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