Miss Philippines looked at Mindanao’s vintas as inspiration for her gown, while the golden headdress was shaped like a coral garden accented with south sea pearls.
Philstar.com/Efigenio Christopher Toledo IV
LIST: 10 standout Miss Universe national costumes
MR. BARANGAY - Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo (Philstar.com) - January 27, 2017 - 6:24pm

MANILA, Philippines — At least five "flowers" and seven "birds" showed up at last night’s Miss Universe 2016 National Costume Competition, where the 86 candidates showcased their bespoke pieces mostly inspired by their country’s national flags, arts, culture, folklore, and flora and fauna.

Some simply literally wore their countries’ colors, while some remained faithful to their traditional costumes, but in stylized versions and with modern touches. Some commissioned designers, while some used recycled materials. Some flew in metric-ton headdresses and peacock tails with built-in light-emitting diode (LED) lights and machines, while others were so modest and minimalist, they could walk the streets unnoticed.

In the absence of a talent portion, the contenders did not only march in costume; some even danced and acted as they competed for the attention of both the audience and the judges: Miss Universe 1993 Dayanara Torres; Cynthia Bailey of “Real Housewives of Atlanta," international marketing director Rob Goldstone; Fred Nelson of People’s Choice Awards; women’s empowerment activist Francine LeFrak; and Miss Universe 2007 Riyo Mori.

Miss Russia channeled the bird of peace from a Russian fairytale. She wowed with her flapping wings. Philstar.com/Efigenio Christopher Toledo IV

Bird parade

“There are a lot of birds tonight, ladies and gentlemen,” announced the competition’s host, who entertained watchers with his boxing-ring-style announcement of names, frank adlibs, and funny poetic descriptions of the candidates’ attires.

National birds were a popular choice of inspiration, with candidates such as Caracao showing off their larger-than-life wing span.

While Miss Ecuador mimicked hummingbirds, Russia channeled the bird of peace from a Russian fairytale.

Nicaragua’s wings weighed 20 pounds, while Malta managed to hand-carry her giant headdress on the plane.

While Belize’s wings were so big they had to be shipped separately to the Philippines, her costume was an advocacy against poachers. Peru’s herring bird, meanwhile, was made of sustainable materials like maze for the wings.

Winged costumes such as these brought pieces of Victoria’s Secret fashion show to Miss Universe.

Flower power

Next to birds, national flowers were also prominent themes. These included Honduras’ angel orchid, Switzerland’s traditional flower from her region, and Ukraine’s “Blooming Ukraine,” which might look like a giant blossom, but is actually a metaphor to how she sees her country.

Paraguay’s gown was made of 2,000 pieces of handmade lace representing passion flower, the national symbol.

Uruguay’s national flower prop was over 30 pounds, making the show’s host quip, “Lifting this flower takes so much of manpower!”

Animal lovers

China’s costume was inspired by pandas, while Sweden wore her preliminary gown again for the national costume segment, but this time, she carried her horse rather than the other way around.

Miss Mauritius’ cape represented the volcano that made the island country. Her ensemble was created by a Filipino designer and painted by a Filipino orphanage. Philstar.com/Efigenio Christopher Toledo IV

The advocates

Australia’s colorful, dip-dyed ruffles reminded of the coral reefs and the value of a healthy reef ecosystem.  

Costa Rica’s was made of recycled materials like aluminum, and so was Tanzania’s, which was composed of bottles and cans.

Czech Republic’s flower headdress was made by special children and will be sold to raise funds for the children’s school.

Mauritius’ cape represented the volcano that made the island country. Her ensemble was created by a Filipino designer and painted by a Filipino orphanage.

Beach belles

British Virgin Islands’ gown was sewn with seashells and represented her country’s sand, sea, and sun. Similarly, Caiman Islands’ ruffled garment mirrored water waves, while Guyana wore something with a coconut painting.

Haiti had a “Pearl of the Antilles” headpiece, while Guam was in a nine-foot tall, five-foot wide shell.

Miss Malaysia was like Lady Gaga in her silvery jumpsuit with Petronas Towers shoulder pads. Philstar.com/Efigenio Christopher Toledo IV

Tourist spots

Malaysia was like Lady Gaga in her silvery jumpsuit with Petronas Towers shoulder pads.

The Netherlands wore LED-lit Dutch windmills that were supposed to move on their own, but they did not, so she had to manually spin them.

Panama’s garb was motivated by a local traditional market, while Turkey was dressed like a famous local tomb.

Barbados, meanwhile, brought to mind a popular local cave. Her 15-pound costume reportedly took months to create, making the host remark, “She’s feeling brave because she’s dressed like a cave!”

Festival queens

Finland wore a non-Christmas version of Santa Claus, while Bulgaria’s dress imbibed a local Halloween festival believed to scare off spirits.

Miss Philippines looked at Mindanao’s vintas as inspiration for her gown, while the golden headdress was shaped like a coral garden accented with south sea pearls. Philstar.com/Efigenio Christopher Toledo IV

Arts and culture

The Philippines looked at Mindanao’s vintas as inspiration for her gown, while the golden headdress was shaped like a coral garden accented with south sea pearls.

Demark’s ball gown was a shoutout to Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytales, while Germany had Brothers Grimm literally in mind with her castle head gear.

Miss Germany had Brothers Grimm literally in mind with her castle head gear. Philstar.com/Efigenio Christopher Toledo IV

Dominican Republic was inspired by a painting, Slovenia by Slovenian lace, South Africa by Suazi culture, and Spain by the letter “ñ,” which is unique to the Spanish language.

Bolivia’s giant feathery headdress represented 18 folk dances. Likewise, the outfits of Sierra Leone and Slovak Republic were fueled by traditional dances, while India’s was by elaborate arts, so she sashayed hers with a dance.

Myanmar made the audience go nuts when she carried her own traditional puppet theater on her back and acted like a puppet.

Miss Myanmar made the audience go nuts when she carried her own traditional puppet theater on her back and acted like a puppet. Philstar.com/Efigenio Christopher Toledo IV

Food for thought

Hungary’s costume had 1,500 chili peppers representing paprika, while Vietnam’s back had giant, durian-like spikes.

The goddesses

Brazil played the goddess of nature in her part-fish, part-bird suit.

Great Britain was the queen of the ocean that looked like a knight.

Namibia was the desert queen with diamonds, what her country is known for.

Israel was the Biblical character Eve, so she had a real snake over her shoulders.

New Zealand was the Earth Mother in green, while Venezuela could hardly walk in a blue and white Mammoth of a gown that signified a local mystical mermaid that possesses great beauty.

Indonesia mimicked a bird-like creature from Hindu mythology, while Chile was supposed to be two sea creatures representing the country’s islands. “This costume is so heavy, it weighs as much as a Chevy!” the host said of Chile’s gown.

Miss France borrowed a costume from Moulin Rouge – the only time an official Moulin Rouge costume was used by a non-dancer. Philstar.com/Efigenio Christopher Toledo IV

Pop culture

Austria was inspired by “The Sound of Music”; the hills were alive in her Alps-printed dress.

Similarly, France borrowed a costume from Moulin Rouge – the only time an official Moulin Rouge costume was used by a non-dancer.

Since Norway is known for ice and ocean, Miss Norway dressed as Disney’s Elsa in the movie “Frozen”.

USA also went childlike in her warrior superhero in a metallic silver spandex number, which she thought of to stand for woman empowerment.

Since Norway is known for ice and ocean, Miss Norway dressed as Disney’s Elsa in the movie “Frozen”. Philstar.com/Efigenio Christopher Toledo IV

Flags

Wearing their countries’ colors proud were Belgium, Colombia, and Kosovo. In addition to colors, Canada also wore a large snowflake from her country’s banner.

In addition to her flag's colors, Miss Canada also wore a large snowflake from her country’s banner. Philstar.com/Efigenio Christopher Toledo IV

Coat of arms

Bahamas borrowed the flamingo and blue marlin elements from her nation’s coat of arms, while Puerto Rico’s armor had touches of St. John the Baptist.

Miss Aruba came out in a swimsuit with a windsurf in tow, representing her country’s national sport. Philstar.com/Efigenio Christopher Toledo IV

Traditional wear

Aruba came out in a swimsuit with a windsurf in tow, representing their country’s national sport.

Croatia was in summer wear; Italy was in carnival and royal fashion; while Jamaica lifted ideas from the tribal people of Greater Antilles.

Kazakhstan’s was a variation of her national costume; Japan wore a traditional kimono with modern touches inspired by ocean waves; Mexico’s was made of minimal leather with coral details and fringes; while Sri Lanka’s traditional garb came with modern cold shoulder hints.

Different Kenyan communities inspired the designer that made Kenya’s gown. Romania, in contrast, wore something her countrymen would have worn in the ‘20s or ‘30s.

Nigeria was in a red ceremonial attire, while Singapore was in a customary wedding dress.

Korea was in traditional queen regalia, while Thailand disguised as Queen Sirikit in a gilded overall and headdress with thousands of crystals.

65TH MISS UNIVERSE 65TH MISS UNIVERSE PAGEANT
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