The ladies who made it to the Top 10 but not further features two possible Trump Ticket holders, a worthwhile contender who extended her country’s streak, and two members of the “Magic Eight”–one who most pageant fans and pundits perceived would win it all and the other one who enjoyed crowd support and somewhat sustained her nation’s Vegas track record even if she didn’t go all the way to win it all.

RUSSIA – Elizaveta Golovanova.  She had potential to make it on her own merits and not require a Trump Ticket.  She does have a lovely face and with the right styling (which she actually had during the early part of her Vegas stay) she could mesmerize.  But the way she styled her waist-length locks from the Presentation Show onwards is just too unruly and old-fashioned–sure she won her national pageant styled that way, but most pageant fans and pundits found it a major turnoff even then.  I would rather see Croatia or Poland in her place.  Worsening matters is her Sherri Hill swimsuit-based gown, basically a sequined flesh-colored swimsuit draped with a royal blue skirt–I would discuss more about this disturbing trend when I talk about Miss Mexico.

HUNGARY – Agnes Konkoly.  I was not that wowed with her during the preliminaries, but I have no serious objections seeing her included in the semifinals, and the fact that she has been hyped as having competed in triathlons might have conditioned the celebrity panel to reward her fit, athletic body to advance to this round.  Jeannie Mai complimented the simple styling she had with her evening gown (as her skirt is already ruffled), though for me the overall effect of her gown presentation is simply meh.  Anyway, it turns out she is truly a refreshing choice, and bravo to her bringing forth her country’s best showing so far in this pageant.  She is a likely Trump Ticket-holder that I now find acceptable, unlike her predecessors who benefited from such.

FRANCE – Marie Payet.  Now I’m wondering if this lady made it on merit (as I had originally presumed) or if a Trump Ticket was needed for her to sustain her nation’s streak in this pageant.  If Hungary made it on merit, then this lady might actually had been the Trump Ticket-holder.  Like Hungary, in general you cannot object her inclusion at this level, though overall her impact is meh.  I don’t believe that she ranked 6th as reflected in the banner of her homecoming–especially with two members of the “Magic Eight” at her level.

MEXICO – Karina Gonzalez.  As expected, the crowd rivalry was between the Philippines and this country, as both camps cheered passionately and loudly for their bets.  I was expecting she would be buoyed by the crowd support all the way to the Final Five, as in general she has the gorgeous looks and strong stage chops to make it all the way.  So what gives?  I think the answer is simple–the gown.  Even blogging designer Nick Verreos (who rated her gown one of the best after the Presentation Show) reconsidered after closer examination.  It’s just a good thing the Mexican fans seemed more civilized in Las Vegas and did not raise an uproar after her elimination (it would’ve been a different story if this was held in Mexico–remember 1993 and 2007?).

In general, I think the swimsuit/leotard-converted-into-gowns trend is generally a fizzle, with one exception to that rule.  I think to make this concept work, a full skirt instead of a draped, leg-baring style is needed.  Russia wore her skirt wrapped in a sarong, and that fizzled.  I particularly disliked the way Mexico’s red skirt is draped, how it makes it obvious that it’s a sequined red leotard with skirt added so it could qualify as a gown.  Fortunately, Philippines’ skirt style is a full skirt, and the rest is history…

Trio of Whirling Dervishes: the swimsuit-based gowns (composite photo) of Mexico, Philippines, and Russia

SOUTH AFRICA – Melinda Bam.  She did everything impeccably from the very beginning of her Vegas stay, that the majority of pageant fans and pundits (including myself) regard her as the one to win it all.  She remained impeccably polished and delivered her catwalk flawlessly in both the swimsuit and evening gown rounds in the finals.  She strutted fiercely almost like a Victoria’s Secret model in the swimsuit competition, and she was a gorgeously impeccable presence in her golden paillette one-shoulder number.  It’s a major injustice she was shut out of the Top Five.

The conspiracy theorist in me sees a sinister hand in this–the powers-that-be are aware that this lady is the biggest threat to their “ideal” outcome, but they cannot eliminate her early like they did Puerto Rico and Paraguay, so they allowed her to go as far as this–until they presented the video soundbites after the Top 10 was called.  This is where they laid a subliminal message that this lady may just be too perfect for comfort, and that probably may have made the celebrity panel dismissive of her.  The video soundbite featured her talking about her father’s death and that her grandfather gave her words of wisdom about being “the product of the choices we make” and “living life in abundance.”  Eloquent words, but I have a feeling the celebrity panel felt it made her sound a bit too good to be true as these phrases felt a bit shopworn.  This is the only plausible explanation I could think of to such an unjust outcome.  I guess she now joins in the company of Odette Scrooby* as part of the club of ladies who potentially would’ve been the winners if it weren’t for some quirk of circumstance.

* Back in 1982 (30 years ago), Odette was a front-runner and scored the highest in the preliminary swimsuit and was first overall after the preliminaries.  It was then odd that during the semifinals, she got a low swimsuit score–reportedly a judge punched a score too late to register and the system didn’t call for the highest and lowest scores to be eliminated at the time, resulting in such a low average.  She was then 2nd in interview and 1st in evening gown, but they were not enough for her to make up for the low swimsuit score and was shut out of the Final Five at a frustrating 6th place as a result.

Screenshot of Odette Scrooby at Miss Universe 1982 and that questionable swimsuit score…

All images courtesy of Miss Universe LP, LLLP unless otherwise indicated.


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