Gowns created by two Dubai designers have been front and centre at the ongoing Miss Universe pageant in Florida, US.
The 69th edition of the annual competition, which was last year postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic, will crown its 2020 winner on Sunday night at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood.
Filipino designer Furne One (pronounced o-nay), who has dressed many Hollywood and Bollywood stars with his 20-year-old Amato label, was tasked to create two looks for his country's contestant Rabiya Mateo.
Miss Universe Philippines debuted the first look, a bright yellow tulle gown, 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", says One, who was asked to dress winner Mateo after he designed swimsuits for the Philippine national contest in 2020.
"Yellow is the colour of joy and celebration. And a hope for a new tomorrow," he tells The National.
One, who has created another gown for Mateo for the finals on Sunday, says it was a challenge to put together the looks because of 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 says.
Michael Cinco, another celebrity favourite, also had his designs worn by contestants at the pageant.
Miss Romania Bianca Tirsin on Saturday 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.
But it’s the dress he’s designed for Miss Canada Nova Stevens, which will be revealed at the finals on Sunday, that’s special for Cinco.
“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 have created a dress to celebrate that,” explains Cinco. “It’s our message of strength and hope.”
Cinco and Stevens met when she travelled to Dubai in April.
The dress Stevens will wear at the finals will have “a mermaid silhouette that accentuates her figure and highlights the colour of her skin”, says Cinco.
"It will come with a voluminous hemline with cascading pleated tulle. It's very couture," he says.
Cinco, who started his eponymous label in Dubai 18 years ago, has dressed other Miss Universe contestants before, including Miss Philippines Pia Wurtzbach who won the title in 2015, and Miss France Iris Mittenaere, who was crowned in 2016.
Miss South Africa and current Miss Universe Zozibini Tunzi will crown the 2020 winner on Sunday night at the competition.
Another pageant, to crown the 2021 winner, will be held later this year. Details have not yet been confirmed.