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The Best Miss Universe Gowns of All Time

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Since its establishment in 1982, Miss Universe has become one of the most highly anticipated events every year that showcases beauty, intelligence, advocacy, and more, with one of the most memorable and iconic aspects of the pageant being its fashion. 

In the 69 years the Miss Universe pageant has existed, the evening gown competition is considered one of the most important portions among audiences and the judges, with the gowns and how the contestants carry them having the ability to push them further into the competition.

Even once a queen relinquishes her crown and hands it over to the next Miss Universe, the amazing gowns they wear surely live on in pageant memory and can inspire generations. Here are a few Miss Universe pageant gowns from the past several years that no one can forget even decades after the world first saw them.

What are Some of the Most Iconic Miss Universe Gowns of All Time?

Riyo Mori (2007)

While we’re used to seeing beauty queens grace the Miss Universe competition wearing sparkling gowns beaded with crystals, some of the most iconic Miss Universe looks are those that stray away from what we often see. 

Crowned in 2007, Japan’s second Miss Universe, Riyo Mori, wore a kimono-inspired gown absent of jewels or sparkles as she walked down the pageant runway. The black gown from fashion designer Frida Giannini’s Spring/Summer 2007 collection for Gucci featured a paisley pattern on its skirt and violet and orange stripes on the bodice and sleeves, a truly unique gown that we had never seen on the Miss Universe stage.

Iris Mittenaere (2016)

The beautifully beaded and handmade Hoang Hai gold gown worn by Miss France Iris Mittenaere when she accepted her Miss Universe crown was truly an elegant and memorable style for the 2016 Miss Universe. The body-hugging gown featured intricate patterns all over and was the perfect glamorous dress to celebrate her win.

Akiko Kojima (1959)

All the way back at the 8th Miss Universe, Akiko Kojima wowed the audience with her beauty and charm, as well as the national costume of her native Japan. 

She wore a printed kimono paired with a headdress upon her hair paired with traditional sandals and tabi on her feet. She would go on to become Japan’s first Miss Universe and continues to wow us with the memorable attire that set her apart.

Dayana Mendoza (2008)

Miss Venezuela Dayana Mendoza would win the 2008 Miss Universe competition wearing a stunning and cheery yellow evening gown. The colour isn’t something we don’t often see at the Miss Universe pageant, so the look was certainly one that stood out to everyone who saw it. 

Alongside its colour, the strapless dress by designer Gionni Straccia was a fun piece brought to life by Miss Venezuela, as she twirled around in the dress as she walked the catwalk, giving a dynamic and bubbly performance that won her hearts and the Miss Universe crown.

Olivia Culpo (2012)

While sparkles and sequins are a common sight on the Miss Universe stage, the 61st Miss Universe, Olivia Culpo, wowed everyone in her simple yet stunning gown created by Georges Hobeika

The winning red gown with long sleeves featured a plunging neckline and a full skirt and was paired with minimal earrings and jewellery and her hair in an elegant updo. The understated look was definitely a standout amongst a sea of bling, and we still think this dress that Olivia Culpo wore is an absolutely classic stunner.

Winning Red Gown: Catriona Gray (2018)

Miss Philippines Catriona Gray stunned audiences over the course of the 2018 Miss Universe program, from the preliminary competition to the moment she won the Miss Universe crown, and the final evening gown worn by the beauty queen was one that everyone couldn’t stop talking about.

The red gown worn by Catriona Gray, designed by Mak Tumang, was inspired by the Mayon volcano and featured daring cutouts, a lava-inspired digital print topped with hand-beaded Swarovski crystals, and made complete with Filipino motif earrings.

Lupita Jones (1991)

Miss Mexico Lupita Jones went on to accept the first Miss Universe crown for her country in 1991, wearing a dazzling orange gown that sparkled under the spotlight. 

The dress worn by Miss Mexico was an off-the-shoulder tangerine-red gown that featured a dramatic off-the-shoulder neckline with dangling crystals, making her a stand-out amongst her competitors and helped make her the first Mexican Miss Universe.

Lara Dutta (2000)

India’s second-ever Miss Universe, Lara Dutta, wore a show-stopping sparkling red gown that we still can’t stop thinking about over 20 years later. The curve-hugging, one-shoulder backless gown was paired with a matching shawl, a simple pair of earrings, sleek hair, and made complete with a confident attitude and unmatched eloquence that would help make this Miss India the highest scorer in the history of the pageant.

Georgina Rizk (1971)

Lebanon’s Georgina Rizk separated herself from the other competitors and their gowns at the 20th Miss Universe pageant when she rocked up not in a gown with a dramatic train, but wearing a two-piece set over the traditional gown. 

The daring, non-gown ensemble featured a plunging cropped top with intricate beading and see-through sleeves and a matching pair of silky trousers. The unique approach to the Miss Universe gown portion was a risky move, but definitely, one that made an impact, with Rizk becoming the first and currently only Lebanese woman to win the Miss Universe title.

Zuleyka Rivera (2006)

Zuleyka Rivera from Puerto Rico would walk onto the Miss Universe platform wearing one of the most talked-about gowns in recent Miss Universe history. 

The silver gown was made almost entirely out of metal and weighed a significant amount. Despite this, the gown was one that no one had ever seen the likes of in the past years and would help turn Zuleyka Rivera from Miss Puerto Rico to Miss Universe that evening.

Final Note

From the 1st to the 69th Miss Universe, the pageant is one of the most iconic events in recent history that celebrates beauty, intelligence, and fashion in a single night. We love seeing the different gowns created by some of the best designers around the world worn by some of the most gorgeous and smart women on the planet. 

While every gown sported at Miss Universe is beautiful in its own right, there are definitely gowns that are set high above the rest and live on to become iconic moments in history. We look forward to the gowns of the future and more stories that come with them.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What colour of pageant dress wins the most in the Miss Universe Stage?

While we’ve seen an array of colours worn on Miss Universe, the most popular gown colours we’ve seen and that have helped queens win the pageant are white, red, and black in that order. These are all simple colours that we’ve seen variations of, from lace to sparkles, and that we’ve seen countless winners celebrate their victories in.

Who won Best in Gown: Miss Universe pageant 2018?

While no official score has appeared for the technically best gown at the 2018 Miss Universe that took place in Thailand, the top 2 favourites that were highlighted during the evening were those of winner Catriona Gray and Canada’s Marta Stępień who wore a beautiful gown designed by Michael Cinco.

Who is the best Miss Universe to date?

India’s Lara Dutta currently holds the title for the highest individual score in Miss Universe history after winning the highest scores in the swimsuit portion and her finalist interview, the latter of which saw the majority of judges giving her the maximum score of 9.99.

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Tina Li

Tina Li is a part-time writer and full-time mum from London. Despite living a somewhat hectic life, Tina always finds time between taking care of her young kids and keeping up with what’s in vogue. She loves to visit the high street when she can and pick up anything that’s both simple yet statement.

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