Miss Universe 2020: the stories behind some of the gowns at this year's pageant

Contestants made sure their beautiful outfits also spoke volumes at the annual contest

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From Miss Myanmar's winning costume inspired by the tribes of Chin state to Miss Philippines's Dubai-made gowns, the dresses at this year's Miss Universe pageant had plenty of powerful stories to tell.

Miss Myanmar Thuzar Wint Lwin, who made a splash earlier in the competition when she displayed a "Pray for Myanmar" sign on stage, was named the winner of the costume competition at the weekend.

The moment Miss Mexico was crowned Miss Universe

The moment Miss Mexico was crowned Miss Universe

Scroll through the gallery above for some of the best Miss Universe gowns from the final night.

Lwin, who made it to the Top 21 on the final night on Sunday, said her dress was inspired by the ethnic costumes of Chin women and was an ode to the “beauty and courage” of Myanmar women.

HOLLYWOOD, FLORIDA - MAY 13: Miss Myanmar Thuzar Wint Lwin appears onstage at the Miss Universe 2021 - National Costume Show at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on May 13, 2021 in Hollywood, Florida.   Rodrigo Varela/Getty Images/AFP
Miss Myanmar Thuzar Wint Lwin won the Best National Costume at the Miss Universe pageant. AFP

Miss Philippines Rabiya Mateo, who was dressed by Dubai designer Furne One, wore a dress inspired by the Sarimanok, a mythical bird of the Marano people in Mindanao, south of the Philippines.

One said the bird, which symbolises good fortune, inspired the orange closed-neck haltered gown embroidered with hyacinth Swarovski crystals, glass beads and paillettes.

"The feminine form and silhouette celebrate confidence while orange expresses freedom and success, which describes the woman of today," One said.

The designer, who has dressed many Hollywood and Bollywood stars with his Amato label, had earlier told The National it was a challenge to put the looks together because of coronavirus-imposed travel restrictions.

“I couldn’t travel to the Philippines, so we had all our fittings over Zoom and that took much more time and effort,” he said.

Mateo, who also made it to the Top 21 on the final night, wore a bright yellow tulle gown designed by One at the preliminary round of the contest held at the weekend.

The Swarovski crystal-encrusted dress, complete with a cape featuring heavy beadwork, was inspired by “the radiance of the Philippine sun”, One explained.

“Yellow is the colour of joy and celebration. And a hope for a new tomorrow.”

Another Dubai designer, Michael Cinco, also a celebrity favourite, had many of his dresses worn by contestants at the pageant.

Cinco, who created a gown to be worn by winner Miss Mexico Andrea Meza for the finals, said the beauty queen ultimately decided not to wear it because it was too short.

But the designer's many other dresses made it to the Miss Universe stage, including a special one he created for Miss Canada Nova Stevens.

Stevens and Cinco met in Dubai in April to work on her dress for the final night.

"She is such an inspiring woman, and her journey as a refugee from Sudan to winning the Miss Canada crown is nothing short of amazing. So we created a dress to celebrate that," Cinco told The National. "It's our message of strength and hope."

At the preliminary round on Saturday, Miss Romania Bianca Tirsin wore a butterfly-inspired gown made of French sequins and Swarovski crystals from the Filipino designer's spring / summer 2021 collection.

The same night, Miss Czech Republic Klara Vavruskova donned another butterfly-inspired dress with an elaborate cocoon-style ruffled shoulder, also from Cinco’s spring / summer 2021 collection.

Cinco, who has dressed many pageant queens in the past, also dressed Miss Universe 2017 Demi-Leigh Tebow, who was an analyst and commentator of the night.

“She channelled '30s Hollywood glamour in a couture gold gown and looked so glamorous,” Cinco said.

Elsewhere in the contest, there was plenty of glamour and lots of sparkle on stage as contestants from 74 countries vied for the 2020 crown, postponed last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Miss India Adline Castelino, who placed fourth on the night, wore a champagne-coloured sparkly gown by designer duo Shane and Falguni Peacock.

Miss Thailand Amanda Obdam said her blue dress, by the label Oat Couture, was inspired by the ocean.

Miss Singapore Bernadette Belle Ong, who did not make the top 21, used the national costume portion earlier in the contest to make a statement.

Dressed in a glittering red bodysuit and matching thigh-high boots, she turned around to reveal her cape, which was painted with the words Stop Asian Hate in the colours of the Singaporean flag.

"What is this platform for if I can't use it to send a strong message of resistance against prejudice and violence?" she posted on Instagram later.

Filipino designer Arwin Meriales, who created the dress with Ong in just two days, said he wasn't sure the dress was going to work.

"I was hesitant to accept it," the designer posted on Instagram, saying that he took on the challenge because it was "not just a national costume".

"It's a statement and protest to stop Asian hate. Who wouldn't want to be a part of such cause?" he said.

Sunday night's final was hosted by actor Mario Lopez and model Olivia Culpo, the 2012 Miss Universe, and broadcast live from the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida.


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