As it has been bandying about in advertisements, to commemorate 60 years of this pageant, the Miss World pageant decided to return to where it all began, hosting the 61st edition in London.  For this auspicious occasion, it was initially announced that there will be some new innovations this year, including:

– Four camera teams reportedly going in-house to cover all the proceeding round-the-clock, like a reality show, and broadcast on TV and the web.

– The pre-judging process will be shown over the web.

– The winners of the fast track events are not guaranteed of advancing into the finals, but are added to the contestant’s total score.

– The scores of the contestants will be shown during the telecast of the Miss World final.

To be blunt, I was slightly skeptical if they will be able to deliver on their planned innovations.  There were some developments as the pageant began that were causes for concern:

– Though 122 was hyped to be the final roster of contestants (beating the record of 115 last year), it turns out restrictive visa policies to the UK (compounded by various factors like lack of preparation by the pageant directors) prevented some contestants from making it to London.  Recent pageant regulars Angola and Guyana are forced to sit out this pageant as a result.  The actual tally is 113, short of the record but still a big number.

– Unlike the usual month-long itinerary of activities, this year they are compressed to only about 20 days.

– We all learned that contestants are instructed to refrain from using social media like Twitter and Facebook all throughout their stay for the pageant.  Plus the media have extremely restricted (or no access at all) for the first week, so pageant fans have to rely on information and photos sent out by the Miss World Organization itself during that period.

But then as the days wore on, we see the updates posted directly by the pageant over their official Facebook page and on YouTube and we have to salute them that they make up with generous amounts of material.  For instance, this is the first time that we see complete photos of all contestants in both the Beach Beauty and Top Model events.  And all 113 contestant profile videos are organized in a playlist on their YouTube channel.  Then, the major clincher–we’re treated to watching the actual pre-judging interview of each and every contestant.  While the profiles typically gives us a hint of how they might fare in the final interview, witnessing the actual interviews is such a treat and blessing for us pageant fans–we hope this feature will carry on in all future editions of this pageant.

With such a bevy of treats to view, I wait with much bated anticipation on what promises to be an exciting final.  And I will pepper my review of the 113 delegates with both photos of the Beach Beauty and Top Model events plus the judges’ interview.  Without further ado, let’s start with…

ALBANIA – Isi Topçiu-Ulaj.  She has an interesting exotic look, something I haven’t seen from an Albanian (her eyes look vaguely Asian for some reason).  So far she earned a slot in the Top 20 of the Top Model fast-track.  Her interview is adequate enough.

ARGENTINA – Antonella Kruger.  She has striking Asian features and a girlish charm that makes several pageant fans and pundits feel that she has an inside edge to make the final cut, even go further to the Top Five.  So far she figured in the Top 20 in Top Model, Top 36 in Beach Beauty, and is selected among the 30 to present for Beauty with a Purpose.

ARUBA – Gillain Berry.  I lament with the styling choices this lady decided to sport for this pageant–where she was an elegant ebony gamine back at Miss Universe, she decided to look ghetto with unflattering bangs for this pageant.  I don’t think she will make the final cut with her current look, but she at least she was in the Top 36 shortlist for Beach Beauty.  She redeemed herself in the judges’ interview, though, making me see visions of Janet Jackson when she speaks.

Janet Jackson (image sourced from tekstovi-pesama.com)
What happened to this elegant ebony gamine? (courtesy of Miss Universe Organization, LP, LLLP)

AUSTRALIA – Amber Greasley.  She’s attractive but we’ve seen hotter bombshells from this country.  She figured as part of the Top 24 in the Sports fast-track and Top 20 in the Top Model fast-track.  She sounded very articulate and matter-of-fact in her interview, rattling off the list of charities her national pageant is involved in.

AUSTRIA – Julia Hofer.  She’s actually attractive, definitely better looking than the original designated contestant (who was overage for this pageant).  Unfortunately this soft-spoken blonde is raw and based on reports describing her grousing about the hard work they had to do for this pageant, clueless.  She is probably not in serious contention for the finals.

BAHAMAS – Sasha Joyce.  This lady has an unconventional beauty that could almost be considered an exotic treat.  I am not certain if she stood out of the pack, though.  Still she made an impression by making the Top 24 in the Sports fast-track (she referred to winning medals in an athletic event in her interview), and she’s among the 30 chosen to present for Beauty with a Purpose.

BARBADOS – Taisha Carrington.  Though 2009’s Leah Marville remains the most gorgeous Bajan ever to compete in this pageant (her non-placement was one most pageant fans and pundits were most outraged at, despite murmurs of attitude issues that might have led to that outcome), this lady makes a positive impression as she’s very attractive.  She made the Top 20 in both Talent and Top Model fast-tracks and is among the 30 chosen for Beauty with a Purpose.

BELARUS – Anastasia Harlanova.  She’s a natural, fresh-scrubbed European beauty who made the short list in Beach Beauty.  But sometimes her fresh-scrubbed look is rather too threadbare for comfort.  Anyway, her lean figure helped her land a Top 36 placement in Beach Beauty

BELGIUM – Justine De Jonckheere.  Yes, she isn’t much to look at and we saw some way better looking Belgians than her.  But I find her extremely likeable in her interview (well, she did exhibit this quality when she was at Miss Universe, also).  She has not figured in any fast-tracks but I think she probably garnered some points with her very perky and outgoing personality (because when she grew up her parents worked at the fairgrounds and they brought her along with them).

All images and video courtesy of Miss World, Ltd. unless otherwise indicated.



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