Miss Universe 2012 The Finals Recap: The Gowns, The Hairspray and Miss Venezuela's "Miss South Carolina Teen USA Moment"...
Crowning Moment: Miss USA 2012 Olivia Culpo becomes the new Miss Universe as last year's Miss Universe, Leila Lopes of Angola is putting the crown on. Leila--by the way--is the longest running Miss Universe in history (one year and 3 months!)
This past Wednesday night, at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino Theater Las Vegas, a new Miss Universe was crowned. Miss USA 20-year old Boston University sophomore Olivia Culpo (I have a feeling she isn't going back to finish her studies...for now!) beat out 88 other beautiful women and won the most coveted International Beauty Pageant title.
Universal Close-Up: Miss Universe 2012, Olivia Culpo of the USA
As you know, I love to cover beauty pageants--especially all the international ones--here on my blog concentrating on my "Gowns Recap & Reviews", naturally. My point--as a Fashion Designer and Pageant Lover--is to also try to inject a bit of Hollywood's Red Carpet vibe in terms of my critiques and suggestions into the typical "Pageant Betty Gown" world. I wish there was more of the former than the latter, especially since it's the "Hollywood Industry" who eventually ends up being the "final judges", as opposed to "Pageant World" people.
Pageant Queens: Miss USA Olivia Culpo gets crowned by Miss Universe 20111 Leila Lopes, and receives her flowers from Miss Teen USA 2012 Logan WestI was excited to talk about this year's Miss Universe Pageant, because I was actually attending! Yes, kids, I flew to Las Vegas--and bought tickets for myself and my NIKOLAKI design-and-business partner David Paul--to see the pageant! I 'll have a Recap of my time in Vegas in another post here--with lots of photos. Olivia's win makes it the eighth time in the pageant's history (the pageant was founded in 1952)--the most of any nation. Venezuela comes in second with six wins in the pageant's history.
Brook Lee, Miss Universe 1997
Brook Lee in NIKOLAKI Collection: Miss Universe 1997 Brook Lee with Nick Verreos at a Miss Universe 2011 Telemundo Viewing Party at the W Hollywood (above photo).
Olivia Culpo also broke a15-year streak of Miss USA not winning a Miss Universe title. Miss USA had not won a Miss Universe title since the gorgeous Brook Lee--originally from Hawaii--had won the title and was crownedMiss Universe 1997. Brook is a friend--and a NIKOLAKI muse--so to me, she will always be the eternal Miss Universe from the Good Ol' USA!
Now...let's discuss this year's Miss Universe 2012 Finals, the winner, the finalists, and yes, THEIR EVENING GOWNS:
The Final Two: (left to right) Miss Philippines Janine Tugonon and Miss USA Olivia Culpo hold hands as Olivia learns her fate
As I said, I went to the Miss Universe 2012 Pageant in Las Vegas. So I saw it all LIVE, from the theater. The pageant began at 5pm PST and ended at 7pm. It was an "interesting" show, to say the least, beginning with Donald Trump as Santa and the 89 contestants onstage introducing themselves. There were slight audio hiccups where several of those first countries' announcements were missed and silence (someone must have been fired for that). I felt bad for those girls since this was "their moment", as they say.
Three of the Best: (left to right) Miss Australia Renae Ayris, Miss Philippines Janine Tugonon and Miss Venezuela Irene Esser
Miss Philippines Janine Tugonon (left), and Miss Venezuela Irene Esser (right) ham it up at the end of Train's (Pat Monahan, the lead singer is the middle of the photo above) performance during the Miss Universe 2012 Finals Evening Gown Competition
Then, the top 16 Semi Finalists were announced--15 were picked by a separate panel of Preliminary Judges plus the "Miss Universe Organization" had their "two cents" of who should be there--and one by the fans. There were lots of surprises as to who made the Semi Finalist list (Poland, Hungary) and the omissions (Puerto Rico, Bahamas).
Top Five: (left to right) Miss Brazil Gabriela Markus, Miss USA Olivia Culpo, Miss Australia Renae Ayris, Miss Philippines Janine Tugonon, and Miss Venezuela Irene Esser
But lots of the Pageant Fan Favorites were there, including Venezuela, South Africa, Philippines, Brazil, Australia, USA. The swimsuit portion followed with those 16 ladies, then they were cut to ten. Evening gowns came next and then, the Top Five and finally the announcements of the Fourth, Third, Second, First Runner Ups and the Winner. In two hours, it was all done!
Before I get started on my "Nick Evening Gown Recap", here were the three "special" Miss Universe winners:
Miss Congeniality: Miss Guatemala Laura Godoy
Miss Photogenic: Miss Kosovo Diana Avdiu...who wore the (almost) same gown as the new Miss USA--Olivia Culpo's First Runner Up at the Miss USA 2012 Pageant...
The gorgeous Nana Meriwether
Best National Costume: Miss China Ji Dan Xu
Incidentally, she was MY PICK for Best National Costume! Hello!!
The Top Ten Evening Gowns--From Least Favorite to Best:
Plunging Cha-Cha's: Olivia Culpo Miss USA--during the Miss Universe 2012 Evening Gown Competition
Plunging necklines work with flat-chested ladies. Not, with boobies such as Olivia's. During the LIVE telecast, one could see the bra/under-structure she was wearing (which is a BIG no-no). I remember turning to my seat mate (David) and saying "Oh Dear!". Seriously. But, in the end, it didn't matter, since she won the crown. Fashion Schmashion. A not-so-good gown can equal a Miss Universe crown, I guess.
The Zuhair Murad Spring 2011 Couture Collection (above)
Co-Host Giuliana Rancic gives the "Ooooh GURL, You Messed Up" look as Miss Venezuela Irene Esser gives an incomprehensible answer at Wednesday night's Miss Universe 2012 Pageant
Finally...speaking of Miss Venezuela and Irene Esser--she was--one of the favorites to win. Unfortunately she made a fatal mistake during the Final Interview Question-and-Answer portion. It became her "Miss South Carolina Teen USA Caitlin Upton" Moment...Judge Diego Boneta asked :
"If you could make a new law, what would it be? And explain why."
Irene, Miss Venezuela, answered:
"I think that any leys [Spanish for "laws"] there are in Constitution or in life, are already made. I think that we should have ... uh ... a straight way to go ... in our similar, or, eh, in ... in our life has it this. For example, I am a surfer and I think that the ... the best wave that I can take is the wave that I wait for it. So ... please ... do our only ... eh ... law, that we can do. Thank you, Vegas."
I think we all get what the beautiful Irene was trying to say there...OK, maybe not...but she sure looked pretty saying it. My post-Miss Universe advice: she should have answered in Spanish. But I fear that her pageant handlers had pressured her to do it in English (bad advice...obviously)...
Click Below to watch the head-scratching Miss Venezuela Final Question-and-Answer Moment:
***Next Up: My "Las Vegas/Miss Universe 2012" Photo Album Blog Recap!
Miss Universe is an annual international beauty pageant that is run by the Miss Universe Organization. Along with Miss World and Miss Earth, Miss Universe is one of the most important and publicized beauty pageants in the world; together with Miss International, the group is known as Big Four international beauty pageants. It is held in more than 190 countries worldwide and seen by more than half a billion people annually.
The Miss Universe Organization and the brand are currently owned, along with Miss USA and Miss Teen USA, by WME/IMG talent agency.
The current Miss Universe is Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters of South Africa who was crowned on 26 November 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada, United States.
The title "Miss Universe" was first used by the International Pageant of Pulchritude in 1926. This contest was held annually until 1935, when the Great Depression and other events preceding World War II led to its demise.
The current Miss Universe pageant was founded in 1952 by Pacific Knitting Mills, a California-based clothing company and manufacturer of Catalina Swimwear. The company was the sponsor of the Miss America pageant until 1951, when the winner, Yolande Betbeze, refused to pose for publicity pictures wearing one of their swimsuits. In 1952, Pacific Knitting Mills organized the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants, co-sponsoring them for decades to follow.
The first Miss Universe Pageant was held in Long Beach, California in 1952. It was won by Armi Kuusela from Finland, who gave up her title, though not officially, to get married, shortly before her year was completed. Until 1958, the Miss Universe title, like that of Miss America, was dated by the year following the contest, so at the time Ms. Kuusela's title was Miss Universe 1953.
Since its founding by Pacific Mills, the pageant has been organized and conducted by the Miss Universe Organization. Eventually Pacific Mills and its subsidiaries were acquired by the Kayser-Roth Corporation, which was in turn acquired by Gulf and Western Industries.
The pageant was first televised in 1955. CBS began broadcasting the combined Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants in 1960, and as separate contests in 1965. John Charles Daly hosted the pageant from 1955 to 1966, Bob Barker from 1967 to 1987, Alan Thicke in 1988, John Forsythe in 1989, Dick Clark from 1990 to 1993, and Bob Goen from 1994 to 1996.
Donald Trump bought the pageant in 1996 from ITT Corp. Trump struck a broadcasting arrangement with CBS until 2002, in 20. In 1998, Miss Universe, Inc. changed its name to Miss Universe Organization, and moved its headquarters from Los Angeles to New York City. In late 2002 Trump entered into a joint venture with NBC, which in 2003 outbid the other markets for the TV rights. From 2003 to 2014, the pageant was broadcast in the United States on NBC.
In September 2015, when NBC cancelled all business relationships with Trump and the Miss Universe Organization, in response to ccontroversial statements about illegal immigrants who crossed the border from Mexico. As part of the legal settlement, in September 2015, Trump bought out NBC's 50% stake in the company making him the company's sole owner. Three days later he sold the whole company to WME/IMG. Following the change of ownership, in October 2015, Fox and Azteca became the official broadcasters of the Miss Universe and Miss USA pageants. The current president of the Miss Universe Organization is Paula Shugart, who has held this position since 1998.
Main article: List of Miss Universe countries
For a country to participate in the Miss Universe, a local company or a person, should buy the local rights of the competition, through a franchise fee, which involves the rights of image, brand and everything related to the pageant.Often, the owner of this franchise for contractual breaches or financial reasons, returns the franchise to the Miss Universe Organization, which resells it to a new stakeholder. Something that is recurrently common in the history of the event.The number of candidates in the contest is inconstant, precisely, because of the question of the franchisees. In addition, there are problems related to the calendar of the pageant.For example, in Miss Universe 2016 were 80 candidates, the following year, the number jumped to 92.
Usually a country's candidate selection involves pageants in your local subdivisions, whose winners compete in a national pageant, but there are some exceptions. For example, from 2000 to 2004, Australian delegates were chosen by a modelling agency. Although such "castings" are generally discouraged by the Miss Universe Organization, Jennifer Hawkins was chosen to represent the country in Miss Universe in 2004 (where she would eventually win the crown). When Australia resumed its national pageant in the later year, Michelle Guy became Miss Universe Australia 2005.
Recent arrivals in the last ten years of the pageant include: Serbia, Montenegro and Tanzania (2007), Kosovo (2008), Gabon and Lithuania (2012), Azerbaijan (2013), Sierra Leone (2016), and Cambodia, Laos and Nepal (2017).
There have also been efforts to revive strong national pageants in, South Africa, Canada, Spain, Japan, Southeast Asia and Latin America. The organization makes continual efforts to expand the pageant, but the participation of some countries such as Algeria and has proven difficult due to cultural barriers to the swimsuit competition, while others such as Armenia and Mozambique have balked at sending representatives due to the cost.
As of 2016, only three countries have been present at every Miss Universe since its inception in 1952: Canada, France, Germany (actually West Germany until 1990, when East and West reunified). Many European countries allow 17-year-old contestants to compete in their pageants, while Miss Universe's minimum age is 18, so national titleholders often have to be replaced by their runners-up or another candidate. Beginning in 2012, transgender women were allowed to compete, as long as they win their national pageants. Since its inception, Miss Universe strictly prohibits age fabrication.
Some of the most successful national countries in the last decade have been Venezuela, the United States, France, the Philippines, and Colombia which command consistently high interest and television ratings in their respective countries. The live broadcasts of the Miss Universe pageant (regardless of the hosting nation) proved highly popular particularly in the Americas and Asia in recent years.
The main Miss Universe Pageant is held over a two-week period in December. In the 1970s through the 1990s, the pageant was a month long. This allowed time for rehearsals, appearances, and the preliminary competition, with the winner being crowned by the previous year's titleholder during the final competition.
According to the organizers, the Miss Universe contest is more than a beauty pageant: women aspiring to become Miss Universe must be intelligent, well-mannered, and cultured[need quotation to verify]. Often a candidate has lost because she did not have a good answer during the question responses rounds; although this section of competition has held less importance during recent pageants than it did in the twentieth century. Delegates also participate in swimsuit and evening gown competitions.
Currently, the final placement of the finalists is determined by a ranked vote, where each judge ranks each of the final three/five candidates, with the contestant posting the lowest cumulative score (thus often, but not necessarily always, the contestant with the most number one votes) becoming the winner. If there is a tie, the higher semifinal scores become decisive.
The winner is assigned a one-year contract with the Miss Universe Organization, going overseas to spread messages about the control of diseases, peace, and public awareness of AIDS. Aside from the job, the winner also receives a cash allowance for her entire reign, a New York Film Academy scholarship, a modelling portfolio, beauty products, clothes, shoes, as well as styling, healthcare, and fitness services by different sponsors of the pageant. She also gains exclusive access to events such as fashion shows and opening galas, as well as access to casting calls and modelling opportunities throughout New York City. When Donald Trump owned the pageant, the winner was given the use of a Trump Place apartment in New York City during her reign, which she shared with the Miss USA and Miss Teen USA titleholders. If the winner, for any reason, cannot fulfill her duties as Miss Universe, the 1st runner-up takes over.
Aside from the main winner and her runners-up, special awards are also given to the winners of the best National Costume, Miss Photogenic, and Miss Congeniality. The Miss Congeniality award is chosen by the delegates themselves. In recent years, Miss Photogenic has been chosen by popular internet vote (the winner used to be chosen by media personnel covering the event).
The competition for the Miss Universe title has seen many changes, although there have been several constants throughout its history. All the contestants compete in a preliminary round of judging (nowadays called the "Preliminary Competition") where the field is narrowed to a select number of semifinalists. This number has fluctuated over the years. The first Miss Universe pageant had ten semifinalists. For the next two years, the number of semifinalists grew to 16. In 1955, the number dropped to a stable 15, which remained through 1970. In 1971, the number was reduced to 12. That number was further reduced to 10 in 1984. This lasted until 2003, when the number of 15 was reinstated. In 2006, there were 20 semifinalists, the highest number ever. In 2007, the organization announced the Top 15 system would be back, which was also used in 2008 until 2010. In 2011, the results of a fan vote was shown on the screen during the swimsuit and evening gown competitions, but this did not affect the final outcome of the competition. From 2011 to 2013, there were 16 semifinalists, 15 chosen by judges and one chosen through Internet votes. The 16th semifinalist by fan vote has been dropped as of 2015, and the number has been reverted to 15 semifinalists. And in 2016 edition there were 13 semifinalists, 12 chosen by judges panel from the quarantine to the preliminary night and one chosen by Twitter and Vodi app. In the 2017 edition, the semifinalists were reverted to 16 delegates divided into 4 different groups each hailing from a different region in the world, Africa & Asia-Pacific, Europe, The Americas & the Wildcard (anywhere).
In the early years, the contestants were judged in swimsuit and evening gown only. In later years, the contestants also competed in a preliminary interview round in a one-on-one meeting with each individual judge.
Crowns of Miss Universe
The crown of Miss Universe has changed 9 times over the course of its 65-year history. The first crown, the Romanov Imperial nuptial crown, was previously owned by the now-defunct Russian monarchy. It was used when Armi Kuusela of Finland became the first Miss Universe in 1952.
- Romanov crown / Metal Bronze crown — When Christiane Martel of France became Miss Universe 1953, the nuptial crown was replaced by a metallic bronze crown. She was the only Miss Universe titleholder to wear this crown. From 1954 to 1960, "The Star of the Universe" was used. It was named as such due to the star shape at the top of the crown. It is made up of approximately 1,000 Oriental cultured and black pearls set in solid gold and platinum and only weighed 1.25 pounds. It was insured for $500,000.
- The Rhinestone crown / Coventry crown — (purely made from rhinestones) was debuted in 1961, as part of the 10th anniversary of the pageant. Only Marlene Schmidt (Miss Universe 1961) and her successor Norma Nolan (Miss Universe 1962) wore this crown. In 1963, renowned jewellery maker Sarah Coventry was the one responsible for making the new rhinestone Miss Universe crown which featured a female figure (holding a scepter) as its centerpiece. It is also known as The Lady or The Queen crown. The cheap rhinestone design made it possible to create exact replicas of the crown to be given to outgoing titleholders. The design was slightly modified in 1973 for the wearer's ease. This crown was used until 2001, when it was replaced due to a sponsorship deal, thus ending the tradition.
- The Mikimoto Crown — used from 2002–2007 for the 50th commemorative anniversary of the Miss Universe organization was designed by Tomohiro Yamaji for the Mikimoto Company, the official jewel sponsor of the Miss Universe Organization. The crown depicted the phoenix rising, signifying status, power and beauty, as stipulated in their sponsorship deal. The crown has 500 natural colorless diamonds of almost 30 carats (6.0 g), 120 South Sea and Akoya pearls, ranging in size from 3 to 18 mm diameter and is valued at $250,000. The Crown was designed for the pageant on Mikimoto Pearl Island in Japan with the Mikimoto crown and tiara being first used for Miss Universe 2002. Among pageant connoisseurs, the Mikimoto crown is reputedly the most sought among beauty title holders. The crown was again used when Iris Mittenaere of France crowned Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters of South Africa as Miss Universe 2017.
- CAO crown — In 2008, Dayana Mendoza of Venezuela was crowned with a tiara designed by Rosalina Lydster of Jewelry by Rosalina and Ms. Dang Thi Kim Lien of CAO Fine Jewelry. The crown, valued at $120,000, is made of 18-carat white and yellow gold. It is composed of over 1,000 precious stones; including 555 white diamonds (30 carats), 375 cognac diamonds (14 carats), 10 smoky quartz crystals (20 carats) and 19 morganite gemstones (60 carats). The yellow lustre of the gold represents the prosperous thriving economy in Vietnam. White, light pink, and cognac are the main hues in the crown which represent inspiration and feeling. Each piece of the crown was designed to represent an important attribute of the Miss Universe Pageant. The curves of inlaid precious stones represent the strong development and potential of each country. The image of the crane (Lac Bird) symbolizes Vietnamese spirit and culture. The image of the heart represents unified breath, rhythm, and vision, which are powerful internal forces that stress faith, hope, and unity. However, Mendoza declined to use this crown and thus insisted on the Mikimoto crown when she crowned her own Venezuelan compatriot Stefania Fernandez as successor.
- The Nexus crown — From 2009–2013, Diamond Nexus Labs made the Miss Universe crown. The crown is set with 1,371 gemstones, weighing a total of 416.09 carats (83.218 g). It contains 544.31 grams of 14k and 18k white gold as well as platinum. The crown features synthetic rubies to represent Miss Universe's HIV/AIDS education and awareness platform. Diamond Nexus Labs is the first ever eco-friendly Official Jeweler of Miss Universe and was selected as part of NBC Universal's "Green is Universal" initiative.
- The DIC crown — From 2014–2016, Paulina Vega, Pia Wurtzbach, and Iris Mittenaere were decorated with a crown estimated to be worth US$300,000, produced in the workshop of Czech company DIC - Diamonds International Corporation. The whole production process, from the first sketches to the production itself, took approximately four months. The shape of the crown is reminiscent of Manhattan skyline. Its production required the work of 10 people and the crown is made up of 311 pcs of diamonds, 5 pieces of blue topaz, 198 pieces of blue sapphire, 33 pieces of crystal and 220 grams of gold. Total weight of the crown is 411 g.
For full list and details, see List of Miss Universe titleholders.
Gallery of winners
Miss Universe Organization
The Miss Universe Organization is the organization that currently owns and runs the Miss Universe, Miss USA and Miss Teen USAbeauty contests. Based in New York, the organization is owned by WME/IMG. The current president is Paula Shugart. The organization sells television rights to the pageants in other countries.
Miss Universe Organization titleholders
The following is a list of all Miss Universe Organization titleholders over the years.