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Universal Preview--Contestants for Miss Universe 2020 in their national costumes 
(Top Photo: L to R) Miss Universe Cambodia, Miss Universe Indonesia, Miss Universe El Salvador, Miss Universe Puerto Rico; 
(Lower Photo: L to R) Miss Universe Dominican Republic, Miss Universe Malaysia, Miss Universe Albania, Miss Universe Mexico

The 69th annual Miss Universe competition is finally happening--after being postponed due to COVID-19--next month at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida. Contestants from all over the world will be arriving, quarantining, and getting ready for the final show on May 16th. Many have been posting photos of their national costumes in the lead-up for the pageant. Here is a SNEAK PEEK PREVIEW of some of the Miss Universe contestant's National Costumes...See if you already have a favorite:


Miss Universe South Africa Natasha Joubert--The description of Natasha's costume says that "She will be carrying the children of South Africa with her when she walks onto the international stage in her national costume, as the fabric wings of her unique gown have been printed with drawings made by young children from Diepsloot and Randburg. The artwork tells the story of pre-school children’s very personal experiences of lockdown and how the Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted their young lives". Natasha's national costume was created by Gert-Johan Coetzee.

Miss Universe Israel Tehila Levi--Designed by Shai Shalom, Miss Universe Israel's dress is made of materials very well known to everyone around the world this past year: FACE MASKS! In fact, 300 hand-painted face masks were used to create this one-of-kind dress, to represent the national costume of Israel.

EUROPE:Miss Universe Albania Paula Mehmetukaj--Miss Universe Albania's national costume is entitled "Queen of Earth and Skies" and was designed by Enada At'Nikolla. She describes the costumes as such: "Red like the blood that runs through the veins, embroidered with red crystal stones from our underground treasures, this dress is the flag and I am the eagle that spreads her wings and flies as high as possible with all the Albanian pride to represent my country and show the world that just like eagles, we soar high and break all the barriers and limits!". 

Miss Universe Czech Republic Klara Vavruskova--The Czech national costume worn by Miss Universe Czech Republic is a reflection of Czech folklore across many of the country's regions. The pleat detail seen on the sleeves is typical of traditional Czech costumes as well as the blue print on the outfit. This print comes from a small village in the Czech republic, Strážnice.

Miss Universe Italy Viviana Vizzini--Designed by Stefano Nicolao, the costume embodies Italy's hope and courage in its fight against Covid-19. Vivianna says (about the national costume) that "Without having lost the desire to fight...with the hope to soon resume flying".

Miss Universe Netherlands Denise Speelman--According to Miss Universe Netherlands, the National Costume she will be wearing represents her country's colorful open-mindedness, where the foundation is freedom. The design gathers lots of Dutch symbols such as the tulips, the iconic Delft blue pottery, as well as cows, foods, the national flag, the Dutch houses...all hand-painted on Dutch silk. The costume was designed by Miss Pearl Couture.

Miss Universe Norway Sunniva Frigstad--According to Sunniva, the costume she will wear will represent Norway to be like "a free-roaming reindeer when it goes under the northern lights in sparkling snow!" The clothes were done by Drommekjolen and the antlers were made by Va Teknikk As.


Miss Universe Australia Maria Thattil--The national costume of Miss Universe Australia was designed by Nicola Yeung and was inspired by the Black Swan, a native Australian bird that is the emblem of Western Australia and a symbol of hope. According to the notes on this costume and the inspiration, the Black Swan is a symbol of the unexpected and overcoming the impossible. It symbolizes the beauty and wonder in being open to change. The designer, Nicola Yeung, said that she was attracted to the Black Swan for "its bold symmetrical features, the stark contrast between the black plumes, the richly colored red bills, and the panels of white that are visible when the bird is in flight...the body of black sequins on the bodice imitate glistening water...the wings are poised open, as though about to take flight."

Miss Universe Cambodia Sarita Reth--Siem Reap-based designer, Meak Koun, was chosen to showcase his design and costume for Sarita in the 69th Miss Universe Competition. This National Costume is called “Tep Rubroum” which represents Lord Harihara, the combination of two Supreme Lords from the Hindu Tradition: Lord Visnu and Lord Shiva which was one of the Khmer Empire’s Official Religions. This unique ensemble also represents Solidarity, Harmony, and Peace. The art style of this costume was originally conceptualized from the Sculptures and Bas-Relief of Khmer Ancient Temples.

Miss Universe Indonesia Ayu Maulida Putri--Miss Universe Indonesia's national costume is inspired by the Komodo dragon. Native to Indonesia’s Lesser Sunda Islands for millions of years, the Komodo dragon is often referred to as “the last link to the prehistoric dinosaurs”. This unique and very creative design, featuring gold, copper, and silver metallic details in the forms of scales, as well as a stunning headdress representing the Komodo dragon, is a collaboration between fashion designer Diana M Putri from Diana Couture and accessories designers Yuling Hoo and Silvy Prajogo of Le Ciel Design.

Miss Universe Korea Ha-Ri Park--The beautiful Miss Universe Korea showcased earlier this year--on her social media/Instagram--photos of herself in two different but equally stunning traditional Hanbok costumes. Wonder which one will she wear? Or will she show up with a third different one?

Miss Universe Laos Christina Lasasimma--This National Costume of Miss Universe Laos shows the beauty and rich culture of Laos. It depicts landmarks throughout Laos, a four-head god from the origin story of Lao New Year/Nang Sangkhan (the seven princess goddesses). The garment is from Luang Prabang, the northern region and former capital of Laos’ ancient kingdom, and includes a fabulous fashion addition in relation to the pandemic, a matching mask. The hand-made gold thread embroidery costume is over $12,000 and the 200-year-old 24K pure gold jewelry is from the Laung Phrabang city that is also a UNESCO world heritage. This costume is the outfit for former royal family members of the kingdom of Laos, going back to ancient times representing the rich culture and ancient art handicrafts of Laos. Her costume portrays the legend of how the Lao New Year started.

Miss Universe Malaysia Francisca Luhong James-- Entitled "Kampungku," Miss Universe Malaysia's costume will include an impressive 3D replica of a kampung house. Designed by Carven Ong, “Kampungku” is a celebration of traditional Malaysian architecture and promises a "double feast for the eyes", because she will essentially wear TWO national costumes at once...

She will first appear in a black and white kaftan ensemble with bicycle headgear against a matching kampung backdrop. Francisca’s dress features Sarawak ceremonial fabric as well as Orang Ulu and Malay batik motifs...

She then goes back into the traditional house and the structure rotates to reveal another different scene: The reverse side of the house boasts replica chickens and coconut trees as Francisca re-emerges with a vibrant halter gown. The orange design takes cues from a stunning sunset and is imbued with gold "kerawang" wooden beads that pay homage to Francisca’s Sarawakian heritage. Completing her look is a whimsical headpiece featuring a Borneo doll by Wesley Hilton. The entire outfit weighs almost 100 lbs and took 3 months to complete. To enable Francisca to swiftly change into Part 2 of her national dress, the "interior" of the house is a fitting room that includes a mirror. We will see how she pulls this off at the upcoming Miss Universe 2020 competition.

Miss Universe Vietnam Nguyen Tran Khanh Van--Designed by Khoa Lo, this national costume for Miss Universe Vietnam pays homage to the Vietnamese silk weaving that is deeply ingrained in the country's culture.  Inside the cocoon, the bustling silk weaving is visualized through the image of pure white silk rolls. This Ao Dai costume wants to show the beautiful traditional craftsmanship seen in Vietnam.


Miss Universe Belize Iris Salguero--Designed by  Roberto Pasos Dominguez and David Matus the inspiration for this costume is a representation of Belizean history: The lighthouse, the story of Baron Bliss, and the tradition of flying kites on this special holiday honoring Belize's largest financial benefactor, Baron Bliss.

Miss Universe Dominican Republic Kimberly Jimenez--Kimberly Jiménez is in full bloom in her national costume designed by Axel ThomasThe province where Constanza is from in the Dominican Republic is known for its colorful flower plantations, which include the sunflower. The sunflower is appreciated not only for its beauty and durability but also for its medicinal healing uses and she is paying homage to it with her National Costume.

Miss Universe El Salvador Vanessa Velasquez--This gorgeous costume was inspired by Izote, El Salvador's national flower. According to the beauty, "This majestic flower is a symbol of pride that showcases the identity and richness of El Salvador’s people and its breathtaking landscapes. The flower’s versatility is reminiscent of our rooted inspiration, appreciation, and love for the emblem because of its ability to offset the planet’s carbon footprint. In addition, it has medicinal value and the stems are used to create beautiful textiles and nutritious dishes. It’s a reminder to our world and a call for action to protect the environment and to appreciate every blooming flower and plant on our planet."

Miss Universe Mexico Andrea Meza--Here is "Alebrije", the National Costume for Miss Universe Mexico. The alebrije is a Mexican handicraft of a surreal style that can be made of cardboard, paper, or wood. Different techniques are used for its elaboration; it can have the shapes of creatures or imaginary fantastic beings with the peculiar characteristic of having picturesque and striking colors. The jumpsuit design begins with a nude base, that is then hand-embroidered, using crystals of different sizes and colors. The "Face" portion of the costume is made in Oaxacan paper technique, along with thousands of crystals. Exotic and colorful feathers are included in the costume, complementing the majestic wings. The design took a month to create and was designed by Avelino Roque Osorio.

Miss Universe Nicaragua Ana Marcelo--Entitled,  “La Gritería en Leon”, this costume is described as "the living representation of the joy and excitement that is experienced every year when 'La Gritería' arrives, considered the most characteristic popular festival of Nicaraguan. The suit is made with handicrafts made by local Nicaraguan artisans, including whistles, noisemakers, and hats as one can see throughout the wings and sequined leg pieces.

Miss Universe Panama Carmen Jaramillo--According to Miss Universe Panama, more than 500 years of legend, culture, and tradition go into the unique National Costume. In one single costume, it tells the story of the founding of Panama City in 1519, European settlement, Spaniards, Pirates, and much more, showcasing how it has been uniquely located as a connection between North and South America as well as the importance of the oceans and seas to the isthmus of Panama.

Miss Universe Puerto Rico Estefania Soto Torres--Designed by Joshuan Aponte, the costume pays homage to Puerto Rican astrologer Walter Mercado. Walter Mercado was a Puerto Rican actor, dancer, and writer whose astrological character made him an icon of Hispanic popular culture. His existence inspired millions of people worldwide and his lesson on the love of diversity...

Estefania also talked about her costume as she said, “With the challenges that humanity has faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, Walter Mercado's message of encouragement and great universal impact is perfect for the Miss Universe stage. Walter pioneered freedom and universal acceptance, and in this costume, we embrace his unique sense of style and honor his message of timeless character. A message that managed to transcend generations, identities, and cultures: union, heart, and much, much love.”

Miss Universe Bolivia Lenka Nemer--Designed by Qhapaq Nan Art, this costume, entitled "The Force of The Andes", represents the Waca Waca dance in Bolivia. The waca lechera is a dance typical of Bolivia that takes around 40 colorful and woven skirts embroidered artisanally. Wearing a blouse with more than 10,000 beads and sequins embroidered entirely by hand. The hat is embroidered Swarovski crystals and gold threads with the shape of a bull. Last but not least, there are many colored feathers representing indigenous birds in the country.

Miss Universe Brazil Julia Gama--Designed by Atelier Michelly Xthis creation was inspired by the Brazilian cotton production. In the last few year's Brazil has ranked in the top 5 of the world's cotton producers. In Brazil, the product is dubbed "white gold".

Miss Universe Ecuador Leyla Espinoza Calveche--Miss Universe Ecuador's national costume, designed by Andrea Segarra, is inspired by Inti Raymi, also known as the Andean feast of the Sun. The Inti Raymi'rata is a traditional religious ceremony of the Inca Empire in honor of the god Inti, the most venerated deity in Inca religion. The design was chosen in February 2020 as the Best National Costume during the Miss Ecuador 2020 national costume competition.

Click below for Video Montage of some of the Miss Universe 2020 National Costumes-Part1:

Click below for Part Two:


NIKOLAKI.....Behind The Scenes: KTLA "Critics Choice Awards" NIKOLAKI Gown Presentation


NIKOLAKI.....Behind The Scenes: KTLA "Critics Choice Awards" NIKOLAKI Gown Presentation

 Glamour Countdown--Nick Verreos with models in his NIKOLAKI gowns (L to R) Amanda Fields Bennett, Jayden Robinson, and Selena Sofia--KTLA-5 Hollywood Studios

Last month, I had the wonderful opportunity of making an appearance on KTLA-5 to discuss Awards Show "Red Carpet" in a ZOOM Age....for the 2021 Critics Choice Awards. As the Co-Chairperson of Fashion Design at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising/FIDM, I have the privilege of being invited as the "Fashion Expert" to talk FASHION (of course!) during big awards shows. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, as we all know, awards shows and the accompanying red carpet, have been a little different. Most shows have been done virtually, remote, or a hybrid of LIVE on a stage, and ZOOM and when it comes to a "red carpet", as of late, it's only been on the stars' (and their stylist's) Instagrams that we get to see any gown glamour...

This was basically the case with the Critics Choice Awards, where most stars appeared remotely, via ZOOM, and the only way we got to see any of their Couture, was from the waist up. And yes, later they posted entire photoshoots they did from their glam squad hotel rooms - or backyard of their homes! 

Hanger Couture--NIKOLAKI gowns on the rack, backstage at the KTLA-5 Hollywood Studios

With all that, I was invited to talk about what we might see in this new "different" way of doing the Red Carpet, and I brought four models with me in designs from our NIKOLAKI line, to talk about gown trends in the ZOOM age.

Here's is my BEHIND THE SCENES BLOG on how the afternoon went:
Model Makeup--Model Amanda Pizziconi putting the final touches on her eye makeup for the special "Countdown to the Critics Choice" NIKOLAKI fashion presentation--KTLA-5 Hollywood Studios 

Ready...Set...Go!--Nick Verreos, "Countdown to the Critics Choice Awards" Pre-Show, KTLA-5 Studios Hollywood

KTLA's Jessica Holmes, with Nick Verreos--"Countdown to the Critics Choice Awards", KTLA-5 Studios Hollywood

Nick Verreos with Amanda Pizziconi wearing NIKOLAKI strapless red silk zibeline mermaid-shaped gown with jeweled trim--"Countdown to the Critics Choice Awards" KTLA-5 Studios Hollywood 

Couple Date--Nick Verreos with model Selena Sofia in NIKOLAKI printed silk chiffon gown with side-front slit--"Countdown to the Critics Choice Awards", KTLA-5 Studios Hollywood

Spring Bloom--Amanda Fields Bennett in NIKOLAKI printed sateen mermaid shaped gown with fuchsia pink-colored silk Duchesse satin collar and waistband--"Countdown to the Critics Choice Awards", KTLA-5 Studios Hollywood

Cascade Flourish--Jayden Robinson in NIKOLAKI fuchsia pink colored silk Duchesse satin "Matador" gown--"Countdown to the Critics Choice Awards", KTLA-5 Studios Hollywood

Red Queen--Amanda Pizziconi in NIKOLAKI red silk zibeline mermaid-shaped strapless gown with in-seam pockets and jeweled trim--"Countdown to the Critics Choice Awards", KTLA-5 Studios Hollywood

Ivory Goddess--Selena Sofia in NIKOLAKI ivory silk jersey high neck and plunging back gathered gown with silver and black sequined silk chiffon trim--"Countdown to the Critics Choice Awards", KTLA-5 Studios Hollywood

Picking Up The Gown Trains--Models (L to R: Selena Sofia, Amanda Pizziconi, Amanda Fields Bennett, and Jayden Robinson) holding their gown trains, wearing NIKOLAKI gowns for the "Countdown to the Critics Choice Awards" Pre-Show, KTLA-5 Studios Hollywood

NIKOLAKI Ladies--Models Amanda Pizziconi, Amanda Fields Bennett, and Jayden Robinson, wearing NIKOLAKI dresses (L to R: Champagne colored crepe back silk satin drape-front gown, apple green silk Duchesse pleated peplum gown, and ivory sequined bias-cut mini dress with mini capelet)--"Countdown to the Critics Choice Awards", KTLA-5 Studios Hollywood