Miss Earth 2009 Evening Gown Preliminary Review

Miss Earth 2009 Evening Gown Preliminary Review
by Joseph Vitug

The PAGCOR Casino near the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Paranaque again played host to the Miss Earth Evening Gown Competition. But this year, there was a new twist: this was the first time ever that all the delegates were not on hand to be judged as they paraded in their evening gowns. Instead, there were preliminary rounds held as the three groups of delegates toured around the Philippines, and the best five of each group would then be competing against each other for this final round for the special award.

But before the competition went underway, they decided to allow this event to coincide with the launching/unveiling of the new Miss Earth crown designed by Ramona Haar. There was a little attempt at pomp and ceremony to launch the new crown, and the proceedings were hosted by famous Filipino-British football player and model Phil Younghusband. It began with a still video conveying messages about ecology and environment, and how the crown was created from recycled silver and gold and embedded with jewels mined or farmed from various countries in the world (80 countries, as it was declared). This was then followed with a song number from Faith Cuneta, who sang an adequate rendition of Des’ree’s inspirational 1994 smash “You Gotta Be.” This was then followed by a parade of local male models in black suits parading some gemstones. Then, another song number, this time from renowned belter Dessa, who performed her own reverent take of the 1988 Olympic theme song from Whitney Houston, “One Moment In Time”. Finally the crown was unveiled, with the reigning Miss Earth Karla Henry holding the crown aloft on the red pillow, and a turnover ceremony was held with designer Ramona Haar present to hand over the crown to Carousel Productions’ Executive Vice-President Lorraine Schuck. Have to admire the effort to integrate all those jewels into a single crown, and it actually worked.

Then, the usual concession to the sponsors enfolded as the sponsors (the Jubilee Presidents’ Foundation of the Rotary Club of Makati and PAGCOR) delivered speeches about their environmental projects and held their own evening gown fashion show. Finally, the main event unfolded as Miss Earth-Water 2006 and now director of the Miss Earth Foundation Cathy Untalan stepped in looking resplendent in a black lace gown to get the evening gown proceedings underway. Similar to the final swimsuit competition, they first presented the ladies who did not make the Top 15. However, instead of the ladies introducing themselves with a microphone, the host made the introductions and the ladies paraded their evening gowns briefly as Cathy introduced them by name and country. Take note after looking at the photos of the preliminary evening gown events of Groups 1 and 3 and witnessing the preliminary contest of Group 2 at posh mall Greenbelt 5 in Makati, the majority of the delegates did not wear their competition gowns. Also conspicuously absent onstage were media favorites Mz. Latvia (Diana Kuvasova) and South Sudan (Mary Deng Kudum).

Before I proceed with the 15 evening gown finalists, I would like to give my notes on the non-finalists who made a major impression with their brief presentations: Miss Cuba (Jamilette Gaxiola) shimmered brightly in her brightly sequined white evening gown—it was mildly surprising that reports were wrong that she made the cut in her group as it turned out it was Miss Ukraine instead; Miss Dominican Republic (Mariel Garcia) showed that blue can compliment her dark complexion looking chic in a form-fitting gown; Miss El Salvador (Mayra Aldana) was provocatively sexy in a low-cut V-necked flouncy gown; Miss France (Magalie Thierry) may have sported a poufy white monstrosity, but she strutted with aplomb in it and showcased that she knew more catwalk tricks beside the patented Riyo Mori Flash and Taliana Twirl; Miss Honduras (Alejandra Mendoza) was surprisingly impeccably elegant in her clean white number; Miss Kosovo (Elza Marku) channeled a little bit of Miss Universe 2009 2nd runner-up Gona Dragusha with her updo, but her pink gown with bare sides was probably a tad more risque than what Audrey Hepburn would’ve worn, but nevertheless it was a gorgeously sexy number; Miss Martinique (Pascale Nelide) was simply vibrant in her sequined red number; and Miss Puerto Rico (Dignelis Jimenez) was elegant yet provocative in a sheer pink number with strategically placed sequins.

An additional note that I would leave as a blind item: one cellar-dwelling delegate forgot to step forward when she was initially introduced by Cathy Untalan, apparently oblivious to what was going on around her–the delegate after her then did her stuff before she last-minutely then stepped forward to do her turn at the front of the stage. Hint: she alphabetically came after a delegate who was a conspicuous no-show that evening.

The 15 evening gown finalists were presented alphabetically, and they descended down a center stairstep with eight gentlemen associated with the Rotary Club escorting them while they navigated the steps. All 15 finalists proved deserving of belonging to the hallowed club, and fortunately none of them copied the so-called “patented gown moves”–they gave their own unique stamps instead. Let’s start with…

MISS BRAZIL – Larissa Ramos. She sported a gorgeously sexy aqua sequined number showcasing revealing cleavage. She stirred up a major rise in collective temperatures with her presence.
MISS COLOMBIA – Alejandra Castillo. Some keen observers noted that her gown was patterned similarly to Karen Agustin’s red Barraza number back in Miss Universe 2002, but it was still distinctive enough for her to make a smolderingly elegant impact.

MISS GUAM – Maria Luisa Santos. From the black gown she wore in Subic, she changed into a one-shouldered white sequined number (think Michelle Obama’s inaugural dinner gown and Miss Universe 2009 1st runner-up Ada de la Cruz). With her updo, she looked impeccably elegant.
MISS INDIA – Shriya Kishore. She strutted confidently about in her aqua-blue number like Bollywood royalty—all we needed was a dashingly handsome Bollywood actor miming a serenade to her.

MISS ITALY – Luna Voce. She moved very simply and her light lavender gown was a simple design compared to the rest of the competition, but she did convey a classically elegant presence.
MISS KOREA – Park Ye-Ju. She changed from her pink gown to a provocatively low-cut and revealing green gown. She had to adjust her shoulder sleeves a bit, and there was a potential for a wardrobe malfunction as I thought there was only an inch remaining before we could see nipples.

MISS MEXICO – Natalia Quinones. She changed from her flowy pink gown back in Subic to a one-shouldered yellow satin gown with floral accents—unfortunately this was a bad strategy as this gown was the weakest of the bunch; it was too pageant-patty and dated for my taste.
MISS PARAGUAY – Gabriela Rejala. She switched from her chocolate gown back in Subic to a white beaded number with sheer midriff. The gown was actually better-looking than her previous number, but it was also punishing for her current figure, emphasizing her voluptuousness to the max—maybe she is making a statement that there should be room for larger, curvier ladies out there instead of fashion’s emphasis on size 2 or lower.

MISS PHILIPPINES – Sandra Inez Seifert. As expected she again sported the Michael Cinco rainbow-sequined confection with intricately flouncy, feathery chiffon accents at the skirt area. And she again made an indelible impact with it, and to my eyes, yes, it’s the most unique-looking gown of the group. My take on the eventual verdict?
MISS POLAND – Izabella Wilczek. She displayed surprisingly strong runway chops showcasing her red evening gown with long chiffon train. She lifted the train up at the back, but it wasn’t the Riyo Mori Flash but a unique move, and she was an awesome diva walking in it. If we talk about dramatic catwalks, she was in a close match with another lady clad in red.

MISS SPAIN – Alejandra Echevarria. She sustained her status as a favorite clad in a low-cut V-necked green gown with fish-scale golden sequined embroidery patterns on her skirt.
MISS THAILAND – Rujinan Phansreetum. Clad in a red sequined number, she spun and twirled about with dramatic flair, but she was neither imitating the Taliana Twirl nor the Dayana Spin. It was more of a more earlier vintage model done by Latin beauty queens about a decade or so ago, but still has astounding impact—in my opinion, she was neck-and-neck with Miss Poland in the catwalk category.

MISS UKRAINE – Karina Golovata. Her one-shouldered black gown was ostensibly simple, but there was drama with the sheer panels at the front and back—for maximum effect, the wearer of this gown was not supposed to wear any underwear, or attempt to create that illusion by wearing a flesh bodystocking; my bet was she did the former.
MISS USA – Amy Diaz. She smoldered about wonderfully in her rose embroidered white evening gown, though she was overshadowed by the smolderingly provocative sexiness of the gowns sported by Mz. Brazil, Korea, and Ukraine, and the fierce catwalks of Mz. Poland and Thailand.

MISS VENEZUELA – Jessica Barbosa. The skirt portion of her strapless silvery green sequined gown was similar to the intricately leafy fabrics on Miss Philippines’ gown, but the design on the bodice was more of a lovely conventional beaded and sequined pattern than what Sandra Seifert wore. She potentially could’ve pulled forth an upset and outdo Sandra, but a minor wobble of an otherwise flawless presentation as she walked to the front of the stage may have spelled the difference that led to the eventual final verdict.

As usual, sponsors’ prizes were handed out. Miss Philippines, Sandra Seifert won Miss Jubilee Presidents’ Foundation, Miss Dominican Republic won Miss AVSCOR, Miss Poland won Miss HDR Management, and Miss Korea won two sponsors’ prizes—Miss Eagle Express and Miss Asei.

Finally, the Evening Gown Award went to Miss Philippines, Sandra Seifert. In my personal opinion, Sandra deserved to win this award, even more than the Best in Swimsuit Award that she won a couple of days earlier at Fontana Resort at Clark. Does this secure her status as THE frontrunner for the Miss Earth crown? Possibly, but take note that there are no guarantees in this pageant—two years ago, Miss Venezuela Silvana Santaella won the same two awards (along with a whole host of sponsors’ prizes), but she didn’t end up winning the grand prize at the end. Still her path to securing at least an element remains on track.

Miss Earth 2009 Best in Long Gown is Miss Philippines, Sandra Seifert   Miss Earth 2009 Complete Coverage


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