I half-expected that the Final Seven that were called out would not exactly match the Top Seven on the scoreboard. But several pageant fans and pundits wished that the ones who were yanked out to make way for the eventual finalists would stay there. I share their sentiments a bit, but I am also satisfied with the actual mix, too. Instead of the usual puffball questions asked of them in recent years, they tried to add a casual element by featuring the Final Seven’s roommates, then borrowing a feature of the pageant back in the 1990s, they make a speech on why they should be the next Miss World. But after an awkward exchange exacerbated by the language barrier as the second finalist could not speak English (plus perhaps time constraints–to make way for Chief Mandela later on, of course), they decided to abruptly stop the roommate portion and just instructed the finalists to simply present their case on why they should be the next Miss World. I actually liked the “roommate” portion and hope they can keep it despite the botched execution this year and fine-tune it for next year’s edition.
Now, let us proceed to review the Final Seven, starting with:
7TH PLACE: SCOTLAND -Jennifer Reoch. She actually grew on me, as I thought that lookswise she pales behind several of her predecessors. I still find her predecessors prettier, but she does have a spark (especially displayed when performing the Scottish jig in the “Dances of the World” segment) that in hindsight I can see why the preliminary judges rated her so highly. Going into the Top 15, she was a close second behind Ukraine to clinch the Miss World – Europe continental title, but as Ukraine failed to make an impression with the Sorority* and other members of the panel (some of whom might have been part of the preliminary panel who didn’t really score Ukraine that high), Ukraine fell to 9th place. But there was another European who advanced in Ukraine’s place, and ultimately the final speech made by that European again beat this lady to the punch and she didn’t clinch the Miss World – Europe title. Her speech was not really bad at all, but I have this gnawing feeling that the judges preferred those who expressed the attitude and willingness to take the job than those who would claim that they possess the qualifications for the title.
* Former Miss World winners.
6TH PLACE: SOUTH AFRICA – Bokang Montjane. Going into the Top 15, Zimbabwe’s huge accumulation of fast-track points made her a contender to win Miss World – Africa, and this lady was nipping closely behind her in 10th place. But then the final night panel felt that this lady generated a better impression than Zimbabwe and ranked her fifth to help her gain the points to advance into the Final Seven and clinch back the Miss World – Africa continental title. Several pageant fans and pundits felt Bokang copied the look of her key rival at Miss Universe earlier this year, the winner Leila Lopes of Angola. Yes, there was indeed a resemblance in terms of elegant bouffant hairdo and color of garment, but I felt she was channeling another Miss Universe winner (who also has Miss World ties, being an also-ran contestant in 1997), Miss Universe 1999 Mpule Kwelagobe of Botswana. But she worked the obviously borrowed look well, so I will not accuse her of being a copycat. Instead, I will celebrate the fact that she finally achieved her best pageant showing after missing both Miss Universe and Miss International and making the Top 16 in Miss Earth. Again, it seems the judges were not into answers where the contestants stressed that they have the qualifications of the job, that is why she ended up in this position.
5TH PLACE: KOREA – Doe Kyung-Min. Despite garnering 22 points from her placements in Beach Beauty and Top Model plus credit for submitting a BWAP project, she slid downwards from 4th place in preliminary judging to 13th place going into the Top 15, overtaken by the upsurge of the Fast-Track Queens like Zimbabwe, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, England, and yes, Philippines. Good thing the final night judges responded wonderfully to the retro-look she sported for the evening–Project Runway Season 2 finalist Nick Verreos blogged raving she looked like a “Spartan Goddess–or one of the Diva Mistresses of a Mongol King” and ended by calling her a “Korean J-Lo”. I knew she had star quality when she set foot in London, and her retro look made me recall the famous “Nobody” video by superstar K-Pop girl group Wonder Girls, and she could easily fit in a scene with them (or be part of the group). But then, looking at the bouffant hairdo, I also had an extra flashback to another Miss Universe–the regally elegant Miss Universe 1965 Apasra Hongskula of Thailand.
The final judges ranked her fourth place overall (just like her original preliminary ranking) on finals night, which helped her recover her standing and oust Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Spain to land that coveted Final Seven spot. But in the end, the judges were then slightly more impressed with England’s speech that she ended up fifth place overall. She was the first finalist called onstage so they did a roommate interview with Miss Japan, who describe that a key quirk of this lady is that she sleeps a lot. She defensively countered that her roommate slept a lot, too…
4TH PLACE: ENGLAND – Alize Lily Mounter. She surged from a tie for 15th place to 8th place going into the Top 15 thanks to her Beach Beauty win, Top Five placement in Top Model, and being shortlisted in BWAP. Then, she earned a Final Seven slot as the final night judges ranked her in a tie for 6th place with Scotland (well, she somehow exuded a semi-ethereal presence in her otherwise pageant-patty sequined one-shouldered blue gown). She then finally beat Scotland when she made her final speech as she stressed more about the experience she had at the pageant instead of emphasizing her qualifications (though she still stated that term–“I do have the quality that Miss World should have…” and then described her traits “…I’m kind, genuine, down-to-earth girl and I like helping others and making people smile…”
It’s nice that England finally made the final cut since the United Kingdom was split to its constituent countries in this pageant starting in the year 2000. Like Scotland, I found her attractive and started to appreciate her looks better during the finals but still found several of her (non-finalist) predecessors better looking. I wonder if it took for her country to host the pageant for this to happen, or would the outcome still hold if this was held in another venue, like, say, Sanya again? Not only she clinched the Miss World – Europe continental title with her placement, she also won Miss United Kingdom. Now, wonder if she’ll see action in Miss International next year (this year they were absent for some unknown reason)?
COMING UP: THE PAGEANT GA-GA TOP THREE