In the face of high expectations back home, Miss Philippines Mary Jean Lastimosa failed to reach the top five during the Miss Universe 2014 coronation night held in Doral, Florida, United States Monday morning (Manila time).
Lastimosa’s underwhelming performance in Miss Universe 2014 disappointed many Filipinos since the Philippines has consistently made it to the top five since 2010, when Venus Raj won 4th runner-up.
Miss Colombia Paulina Vega won this year’s Miss Universe title, edging 24-year-old Miss United States Nia Sanchez. Miss Ukraine Diana Harkusha was second runner-up, followed by Miss Jamaica Kaci Fennell and Miss Netherlands Yasmin Verheijen. A total of 88 countries joined this year’s Miss Universe.
One beauty pageant enthusiast however says that Lastimosa’s chances in the competition was weighed down significantly by her evening gown.
“Though Miss Philippines faced strong competition from those Latina beauties, she (Lastimosa) could have made it through at least as a runner-up if her evening gown was as gorgeously-designed as the one worn by Miss Colombia,” entertainment journalist Jude Cartalaba said.
“Sadly, even if it was altered at the last minute, the white gown was still awfully formed. That Serpenine-type of gown is no longer an ‘in’ thing. It has a fully-beaded bodice, and it looked like a wedding gown as opposed to the goddess-like gowns worn by the rest of the candidates that made it to the final cut,” he added.
According to Cartalaba, Spain and the Philippines could have made it to the top five instead of United States and Netherlands.
Lastimosa’s evening gown and her infamous “birthday cake” national costume were both created by Colombian fashion designer Alfredo Barraza. Ironically, Barraza is also the one who made the gown for Miss Colombia.
Missosology.info, a website for beauty pageant enthusiasts, in 2011 faulted Barraza for allegedly “sabotaging Miss Philippines candidates with his lackluster evening gown designs.” He faced similar criticisms in 2013 when Ariella Arida wore a gown he created for the competition (she won 3rd runner-up).
Cartalaba said it might be better if Filipino designers will be tapped to do the gowns of future Miss Universe contestants. “That happened during the 80s. Renee Salud’s model-discoveries placed well in competitions wearing his creations.”
Salud designed the gowns for the late Chat Silayan (3rd runner-up, Miss Universe 1980) and Desiree Verdadero (3rd runner-up, Miss Universe 1984). Years before, Salud created the hour-glass gown that helped Melanie Marquez win the 1979 Miss International title.