OPINION :: Gown matters at Miss Universe



Gown, gown and more gowns! The world, at least outside of the Philippines, are already tired of seeing the posts and comments with regards to the supposedly disastrous gown worn by Mary Jean Lastimosa at Miss Universe 2014. The whole conversation of Miss Universe in the Philippines has been hijacked by the general assent of the populace that the gown designed by Alfredo Barraza was the real reason why the Philippines was out of the Top 5 which the country has consistently placed since 2010.

The Pageant Spotlight, a fan based pageantry group, recently posted in their instagram account a photoshopped photo of Miss Philippines Mary Jean Lastimosa wearing an alternative gown – a gown designed by Filipino designer named Leo Almodal. The gown was worn by Mary Jean during the Miss Universe rehearsals. The question is, based on the altered photo do you think that she could have penetrated the Top 5 wearing an Almodal instead of a Barazza?

Miss Universe Philippines 2014 Mary Jean Lastimosa
Miss Universe Philippines 2014 Mary Jean Lastimosa

Irate fans outside of the Philippines are bewildered by frustrations of the Filipinos. One interesting viewpoint is that no gown could have possibly saved Mary Jean which many considered as a mediocre candidate. Even Miss France Camille Cerf even stated that Mary Jean had no business even in the Top 10! So whether she used an Almodal or a Barraza it couldn’t have possibly changed her fate and that the Filipinos are so foolishly fixated in the gown issue. After all, gown does not matter that much at Miss Universe! Is it?

Miss Universe Puerto Rico 2010 Mariana Paola Vicente
Miss Universe Puerto Rico 2010 Mariana Paola Vicente

Well, there are so many instances when gown matters a lot of Miss Universe. In 2010, Mariana Vicente, perhaps the most stunning Miss Puerto Rico we’ve seen in years, burned her chances in winning the crown when she used that heavy looking gown. While some fashion observers liked it, pageant watchers gasp in unison when they saw that horrible gown. There is no doubt by now that Mariana’s Miss Universe campaign ended the moment she stepped onstage with that gown.


Miss Universe South Africa 2012 Melinda Bam
Miss Universe South Africa 2012 Melinda Bam

In 2012, Melinda Bam also ruined her chances with a poor gown choice. She used too much gold and yellow and to think that she is fair skinned and blonde. The gown simply overpowered her and despite many predicting her win, her eventual non-exclusion at the Top 5 was simply sealed by her gown.

The story of Mariana and Melinda proves that gowns do matter at Miss Universe. While people will yawn and smirk at this another article about an oft-discussed topic, let’s pause for a moment on what can we learn from this. It is important that contestants should understand that gowns can change the dynamics of the competition at Miss Universe. It is critical that the gown should not overpower the wearer. Avoid heavy, weird and unconventional gown designs no matter how fashion forward it is or how haute-couture it may seem. Indeed, Jeannie Mai was telling the truth when she said that Miss Universe is not about the gown. It is about how the girl looks in a gown.



  1. Whether the gown affected Ms Philippines in penetrating top 5 does not matter now. But I have to agree that that Almodal gown looks stunning on her! More so compared to the Barazza “Wedding dress” she wore that night! So, however good she carries that white gown, if the dress was too awful for words, her grace/beauty will be overwhelmed by her gown which was a monstrosity (exaggerated or not).

  2. yeah the announcers always say “they don’t judge the gown, just how the delegate presents it”–total BS.

  3. we do know filipinos had a shock when she came in that tacky gown….she looked short and broad….and how many photoshops we do, it wont change as the contest is over….now Miss Filipina shud work hard and make no mistake in wearing the rags by Barazza…. thanks for this great article on gowns@ MU contest…. hope we have the next MU having a stunning representative from Phil…a MU crown is a long due.

  4. Melinda and Mariana were stunnings with those gowns. But we all know that part of the judges don’t know anything about pageants. In 2010 was a mistake to not include in the top five to Puerto Rico. Australia was too much normal to be in it. And in 2012, I’m sorry filipinos, but Janine shoudn’t take in the top 5 with that gown.

    But if we think that gowns are the reason to take out the top 5, we can see 2013, when Brasil and, now I’m sorry filipinos again, Philippines with those horrible gowns were over Great Britain and Ukraine.

    And we can compare questions in the same way. In 2014 Jamaica or USA should win because they answered too much better than the other candidates and we all know the results…