Worst and Best Miss Universe Gowns Ever (in My Opinion)!

While the Miss Universe pageant’s next location is not yet disclosed, I felt I need to do some critique on some gowns I have seen on the TV, on the Internet & on the newspaper. Then again, please note that these are opinions of what I think failed to excite me & what made a good impression on me. And I’m not paid by the Miss Universe Foundation, nor that annoying Donald Trump, nor NBC, nor even the designers & contestants themselves to make this critique! I made this out of concern for those ladies & women who might want to wear something based on these gowns and many more from other editions or similar to these, and, of course, fun!!!

Let’s start with the gowns that REALLY scream ‘Put that back to the closet!’:
5.) South Africa 2012 (Melinda Bam)


I went to South Africa last summer, once infamous for its apartheid policies but now a vibrant country that’s known as ‘the Rainbow Nation’ (with citizen ancestry ranging from African (Zulu, Xhosa, Sotho, etc.), European, Asian, Mixed Race (two or more races in one’s blood) & don’t forget the True natives of Southern Africa) & it was a blast, being on top of the Table Mountains in Cape Town (which I misplaced during a Contemporary World Geography Finals), visiting the Hector Pietrson Museum in Soweto, & making fun of Eric the Phantom of the Opera in a casino-resort-shopping complex in Johannesburg: just to name a few things I did while my family was there. But sadly, Afrikaner Melinda disappointed me in her reptilian-looking gown last Christmas season in the US Sin City, Las Vegas.

I mean, did her designer skinned thousands of, gulp, snakes just to make one dress for a well-known pageant?!? Not really, but the sequins really annoyed me a lot. Luckily, she did mentioned that her dad passed away (I pity her, even until now) & I liked the sheer fabric that flows like a river & was attached to the back of her gown. Sad story, but it (and the back flowing fabric) wasn’t enough to save her from the scary reptile dress that almost gave me a heart attack. Somebody call PETA to examine the dress in full detail if it’s really made of real snake skin, please!

Grade: B–

4.) Venezuela 2012 (Irena Esser)


As mentioned in Melinda’s gown disappointment, it’s near Christmas time when Miss Universe was held last 2012. Irena’s gown is screaming ‘Christmas’ out of the 10 finalists. Color is okay for this time of the year but that made her look like a human Christmas tree! The ‘vines’ (as I called them) wrapped her around like garlands in a Christmas tree or, gulp, snakes!!!
I would forgive her for that fashion fiasco due to her bubbly personality, despite her confusing final Q&A answer, but then, it (the gown) is too Christmassy to me. The designer should have made it into an one-shoulder gown with an asymmetrical hemline that runs from knee to ankle. But I do like her hair & earrings though.

Grade: C+

3.) Belgium 2011 (Justine De Jonchkeere)

Love the color scheme, hate the overall look. The spaghetti strap, the mid-riff, the long & short skirts, the long chiffon sleeve. It looked like a hideous mash-up of Indian-Hindu culture, Middle East-inspired belly dancer attire & ancient Greece combined! So indescribable! She looked so confused. The designer should be shamed for the mess. I rather be her fashion lawyer than be the designer’s lawyer. Plus, there should one focus in her gown instead of a messy confusion of everything in one sitting or even a gown!

Grade: C-

2.) Australia 2004 (Jennifer Hawkins (M.U. ’04))

What’s up, mate? The gold color looked too flashy. It burns the eyes of TV viewers badly!!! Plus, there was a fashion fiasco during one event: the bottom part of that gown fell off & she had to cover her butt which had nothing but her undies. Plus, the necklace looked like as if it was a part of the gown. The only thing that spared her is the cut of the gown. Hair is okay, I guess that the make-up was done subtly. These, however, didn’t spared her from being almost a victim of a trend almost gone wrong.

Grade: between D- & E-

And, sadly, the worst of them all:
1.) USA 2012 (Olivia Culpo (M.U. ’12))


What on Earth is this!?! I discovered in one pageant-critical view pageant, Critical Beauty, that the design of the dress Miss Olivia wore came from a runway design. What was Donald Trump thinking when he’s favoring that ‘I used to bully my siblings as a kid and didn’t regret it’ lady? The fabrics are okay. I hate it because it broke every rule on formal wear & modesty. Coming from two Catholic schools & one Protestant high school, it definitely has to go away. Long sleeves + deep plunging v-neckline + ball gown skirt + some good fabrics = a recipe for a fashion disaster!
I’m sure many Americans will hate me for this, but as an American by birth, I have to admit: it’s definitely the worst evening gown ever in Miss Universe history. Sorry, Olivia, but I wasn’t voting for you anyway…

Grade: F—

Now, to the best & most impressive gowns ever:

5. Venezuela 2009 (Stefania Fernandez (M.U. ’09))


Hola! What is this? I found this dress very vibrant in color, definitely red. I wish she could ditch the long chandelier earrings & go for a pair of ruby or diamond stud earrings which could frame her face & then long curly hair before she cut them up into a short bob almost a year later into her reign as Miss Universe. But the decor on the bodice & sleeves of the dress has elevated it into glamour & the bottom of the skirt of the dress looked so fluffy a fashionista would die looking at it in envy… The subtle smokey eye look & red lips pulled the look together. Digging the sleeves so much!
Grade: B

4.) Ukraine 2011 (Olesya Stefanko) + Angola 2011 (Leila Lopes (M.U. 2011)
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Olseya’s gown reminds me of the Grecian goddesses & women in the ancient times, although she’s not really from Greece! While it looked too summery for one’s taste, it does get bonus points from me for the gold details & the flowy hemline.

Leila, on the other hand, looks so ravishing in the gown that witnessed her ascent to being Angola’s first Miss Universe. The gown looks & feels so airy with some sequins & feathers adorning it. The slit showing her left leg is not extreme in skin showing, though I wish they (the hair dressers) would let down her hair than making her into a Venus Raj clone with a high bun.

Grade (for both gowns): B+

3.) Japan 2007 (Riyo Mori (M.U. ’07))

This has to be my most favorite gown of all of the gowns in that edition in Mexico. So okay, it’s not daytime-friendly for special occasions held in the day or afternoon. But it really lightened my day since she became the first Asian in a few years to be crowned as Miss Universe, despite troubles that plagued the pageant then. The kimono-inspired sleeves makes me feel I’m in Japan even though I didn’t set foot on the country until almost 3 years after it came. I love the color scheme (other than black) as well as the colorful overskirt & skirt of the dress which added in her (Riyo’s) favor.

It sparks up my imagination of a country known for Pokemon, Sailor Moon, Sushi, Nintendo, sumo wrestling, hi-tech stuff, Mount Fuji, cherry blossoms, and of course, very smart & beautiful ladies like Miss Riyo. Not bad for an Asian ballerina in training.

Grade: A-

2.) China 2011 (Luo Zilin ‘Roseline’)


This sounds a little too biased for an Asian but this IS Chinese beauty we’re talking about. As a fellow Chinese in blood, I would like to say that Luo looked amazing as if she came out of a Vogue magazine fashion shot. Red, in Chinese superstition, represents good luck & happiness, but I think we Chinese in blood should consider this as the color of beauty in Chinese color analysis.

The pattern in the bodice is pretty amazing. Her hair looked so gorgeous!

Grade: A

And last but not the least,…

1.) Philippines 2012 (Janine Tugonon)


I know many people have mixed feelings of this and, again, sounds a bit biased (since we’re both Thomasians (University of Santo Tomas) and Filipinas) but this is really the dress that should rule among the rest last year, despite someone claiming it looked too ‘under the sea’ (aka the Little Mermaid (Disney version) inspired)! Even though the fabric was a little too sheer, it somehow compliments Janine’s skin tone very well. The subtle pleats in the dress skirt looked very brilliant!

The bodice looked equally glamorous too with the silver detailing without overwhelming the earrings she wore on the pageant. I’m guessing she was wearing a ponytail as I can tell from the back, but it’s not everyday you can wear a ponytail for formal events, let alone pageants as well, but she pulled that look well. I also heard that the dress looked too plain but she pulled it off very well. (Vamos, Tigres! El campeon!)

Grade: A+++

Some Honorable Mention: Philippines 2010 (Venus Raj), Korea 2007 (Honey Lee), Australia 2009 (Rachael Finch), Canada 2005 (Natalie Glebova (M.U. ’05))

Thanks for looking at this Miss Universe Gown Fashion Critique. Just let know what you think & I hope to check up with you soon…


6 thoughts on “Worst and Best Miss Universe Gowns Ever (in My Opinion)!

  1. alley says:

    how about the gown by lara dutta at mu 2000. The beautiful red gown played a good part in her winning

  2. alley says:

    I think jennifer hawkins looked stunning in her gown ,,,and also beg to differ with Janine ..her gown was not too bad but definitely not the best ..we have a lot more good ones.

    • I read about that incident as a a pre-teen a few months after she won in Ecuador. Initially, I too thought it was cool! except for the glaring gold color. But after that incident, I felt bad about it.
      That’s why her gown is in my opinion one of the worst gowns I’ve seen ever.

  3. ken Jackman says:

    I dont agree with any of your pics.
    Worst Gowns
    5) South Africa – Melinda Bam. Not a great gown, but hardly in the Bottom 5 of all time. I vote for Irene Saez, Miss Venezuela/Universe 1991. It looks like a pinata with big paper flowers.
    4.) Venezuela 2012 – Irena Esser. Not a great gown, but hardly in the Bottom 5 of all time. I’ll pick Riyo Mori, Miss Japan/Universe 2007. Beautiful girl, but that gown looks like a modified UPS delivery uniform.
    3.) Belgium 2011 – Justine De Jonchkeere. Yes, it was bad, but so was
    Maria Desiree Verdadero, Miss Philippines 1981. She looks like one ot the Real Housewives of Manilla.
    2.) Australia/Universe 2004 – Jennifer Hawkins. One of the most beautiful Miss Universes of all time, And her gown was not only beautiful, but it fit her beautifully. The gown she wore for the MU pagent is not one that fell apart on the runway. That was a gown she was modelling during her reign as Miss Universe. I vote for Karina Gonzalez, Miss Mexico 2012. What’s with the onzie with a skirt? I’ll pick Riyo Mori, Miss Japan/Universe 2007. Beautiful girl, but that gown looks like a modified UPS delivery uniform.
    1. USA/Universe 2012 – Olivia Culpa. Personally, I didn’t like the gown either. But, it was en trend and elegant. It showed a lot of chest, so accordingly it showed more restraint in other areas. In that gown, with her hair up, her beautiful face, and that crown, she looked every bit the part of Miss Universe. My pick for the worst would be Amelia Vega, Dominican Republic/Universe 2003. Her white gown was just tacky pagent gown, but what made her even less attractive was her arrogance. It was very obvious during the pagent that she was not well-liked nor respected by the other delegates.
    Best Gowns
    5. Venezuela/Universe 2009 – Stefania Fernandez. Love her, hate the gown. It’s reminiscent of a peasant dress with Jewels. My pick would be Oxana Fedrova, Russia/Universe 2002. A BEAUTIFUL DIORESQUE gown that enhanced her beauty. But since she was dethroned, I’m going with Denny Mendez, Italy 1997. An elegant yet sexy gown for the only black woman to represent Italy.
    4.) Ukraine 2011 – Olesya Stefanko & Angola/Universe 2011 – Leila Lopes. Both beautiful gowns, but not special enough for Top 5. I’ll go with Rachael Smith, USA 2007. She may have slipped and fell, but that doesn’t detract from the beauty of the gown.
    3.) Japan/Universe 2007 – Riyo Mori. Like I said……..UPS delivery uniform. I’ll go with Jakelyn Olivera, Brazil 2013. Beautifully designed, enhanced with gems, showing the right amount of skin, and a beautifully unique color palatte.
    2.) China 2011 – Luo Zilin ‘Roseline’. I think the design of the dress detracted from her incredible Asian beauty. I did love the red on her though. My pics: Ling Zhuo – China 2002 (tie) Natalie Glebova – Canada/Universe 2005. So simply elegant in white
    1) Philippines 2012 – Janine Tugonon. I have to believe that this list was created by a fan of ALL of the Miss Philippines. Venus Raj (2010) was overwhelmed by yards of plain silver satin. Shamcey Supsup wasnt sexy enough, more like a Teen Philippines. Janine Tugonon was beautiful, but she just didn’t seem to possess the personality to be Miss Universe. And her blue gown looked more like a Miss America Gown than a Miss Universe Gown. Ariella Arida arrived in Moscow as damaged goods after making remarks critical of non-English speaking contestants. But during the pagent, she was lost in her yellow gown. If you dont know what that means, look on Google for Dayana Mendoza Miss Universe 2008 to see how a yellow gown should be worked. All of that said, my favorite Miss Universe gowns are very different. Gabriella Markus – Brazil 2012 and Zuleyka Rivea – Puerto Rico/Universe 2006. What makes those two gowns the top? Because the women and the gowns enhanced each other. Those gowns wouldn’t work on anyone else.

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