The most striking Miss Universe national costumes, from Bahrain to India

Preliminary competitions are taking place ahead of the final coronation night on Saturday

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Miss India Divita Rai's outfit was inspired by a golden bird, while Miss Bahrain Evlin Khalifa, also in gold, celebrated her country's 50th anniversary with her striking outfit.

The national costume competition, one of the most colourful rounds in the Miss Universe pageant, was held on Wednesday, ahead of the final coronation night on Saturday in New Orleans. In the competition, contestants showcase their country's culture through creative, and sometimes extravagant, ensembles.

Scroll through the gallery above for more pictures from the national costume competition at Miss Universe 2022

Khalifa, 24, wore a costume by Filipino designer Furne One, whose Amato label is headquartered in Dubai.

Called Al-dahr, which means "forever" in Arabic, she said her national costume represents the golden celebration of the establishment of Bahrain as a nation.

"Gold is probably one of the most desired and most precious elements in this world. However, aside from its glam and glitter, gold is the perfect paragon that through hardships, challenges and trials in life, we can always become better, bigger and brighter — because the hotter the fire is, the purer the gold," the Miss Universe Bahrain Organisation said earlier.

"The national costume symbolises the characters of Bahraini people — strong, powerful and precious."

Rai, 23, has partnered with designer Abhishek Sharma, known for his fusion of Indian and Western looks. Called "sone ki chidiya" or "golden bird" in Hindi, the ornate dress features wings in gold over a heavily embellished lehenga.

"Golden bird" was the name Ancient Greeks used to refer to India, owing to its abundant raw materials and precious metals, including gold.

Meanwhile, Miss USA R’Bonney Gabriel, who became the first Filipina-American to win the crown in October, chose to showcase her home state Houston's space credentials.

Called Woman on the Moon, Gabriel's costume by designer Patrick Isorena is an ode to Nasa's mission to send the first woman to the moon.

"As a Houston native, where the Nasa space center is located, I am proud to be from a city working to send the first female to the moon. The purpose of this costume was to inspire women in all spaces across the universe to dream big, shoot for the moon and achieve something out of this world," Gabriel, 28, wrote on Instagram ahead of the competition.

Born to a Filipino father and an American mother in San Antonio, Texas, Gabriel is a model and fashion designer who runs her own label, R'Bonney Nola. She was crowned Miss Texas in July, earning her a spot in the Miss USA contest, where she beat 49 other candidates to the crown.

Like Gabriel, Miss Universe Philippines 2022 Celeste Cortesi is of mixed race. Cortesi, 24, is Filipino-Italian and was raised in Italy before moving to the Philippines five years ago to pursue a career in pageantry.

Two mixed-race Filipinos have won the Miss Universe crown in the past, both for the Philippines. Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach is Filipino-German while Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray is Filipino-Australian.

Scroll through the gallery below for more pictures from the Miss Universe evening gown competition

Updated: January 12, 2023, 11:56 AM
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