The key quality that distinguishes the “Glorious Eight” from the rest is charisma (or potential for charisma in the case of one pre-arrival favorite whose buzz seemed to die when in Japan). All are very strong that any one of them can conceivably win the crown.
A member of my “Glorious Eight” doesn’t seem to figure in the list of standouts among other pageant fans and pundits, even if she was a knockout in her national pageant and I saw vibes of two classic winners. Colombia (Daniella Herrera) for me evokes the vibes of Miss International 2006 Daniela Di Giacomo and Miss Universe 2008 Dayana Mendoza, (incidentally, both from the neighboring country of Venezuela) and as such I’d love to give her the moniker “Dayanela“. Yes, her charisma seems to be muted in Japan, but I’m not counting her out yet–I think she can pull off like Miss International 2001 from Poland, Malgorzata Rozniecka (who fell off the radar in the regard of pageant netizens during the preliminary activities) and bring on the sparkle when it counts to conceivably win it all.
Garnering major buzz since arrival and then rose in regard as front-runners are two ladies from the British Commonwealth realm, Canada (Amber Bernachi) and United Kingdom (Romy Simpkins). Along with Nicaragua and Hawaii, they reportedly delivered the best speeches at the International Forum. I also noticed they delivered strong presences onstage so I feel they do deserve to belong in this hallowed group.
Another Latina who evokes two (or maybe even three) classic beauty queens is Mexico (Geraldine Ponce), who during her coronation in her national pageant reminded me of a cross between compatriot Miss Universe 2010 Ximena Navarrete and Miss International 1984 Ilma Julieta Urrutia of Guatemala==I dub her “Xilmena“. She sustained her pre-arrival buzz during the early pageant events, and she even evoke another Central American winner–Miss Earth 2003 Dania Prince–should I modify her moniker to “Xildamena“? But it seemed her buzz dropped a bit after the International Forum–was her speech less than stellar?
Turning heads for sheer utter gorgeousness and a radiant girlish vibe is Poland (Magdalena Bieńkowska). Poles are not that renowned for communication skills, but her beauty and charisma are simply too undeniable that she as long as she doesn’t stumble in her speech she can clinch it.
The Miss Venezuela pageant typically crowned their representatives for this pageant about a year in advance, and when Edymar Martinez won last year, I was a bit mad at her because she put Jessica Duarte at an automatic disadvantage–there is no historical precedent for a back-to-back win in this pageant (though what typically would happen is that after the win the next representative would end up as first runner-up). At that time, I felt it’s unworthy that this gorgeous stunner would likey “suffer” that fate and not win, as she is an amalgam of two of the most highly regarded beauty queens in Miss World history, her compatriot Miss World 1999 1st runner-up Martina Thorogood and Miss World 2013 Megan Young of the Philippines. I dub her “Marmegantina“. This vision of astounding beauty continues to remain on-point in Japan, though with so many astounding contenders competing with her, victory is definitely far from assured–heck even a 1st runner-up slot could be wrested away from her by other members of the “Glorious Eight”.
Some other pageant websites listed Indonesia (Felicia Hwang) as the top favorite to win it all. Initially I didn’t get it until I saw images in Japan and i was won over by her quiet, unassuming, dignified charisma. I have a gnawing feeling she’ll deliver on the elegance and duplicate the outcome at the recently concluded Miss Grand International pageant and win it all. But as stylish and regal as she exudes, I still have my heart for…
…Philippines (Kylie Versoza). She is often the most stylishly dressed of the bunch, and delivers charisma with a lot of slick panache, and for that she looks like on track to delivering our sixth Miss International crown. Like in the coronation night of Binibining Pilipinas, she continues to evoke the vibe of a haute couture princess, and unlike the Latina front-runners who channel beauty queens, she’s channeling Japanese music and style icons Namie Amuro and Ayumi Hamasaki.* I dub her “Kylie Namiyumi“. Her style may finally open the normally staid Japanese panel’s minds that they can embrace modern Japanese style and reward her for reminding them of it. But then again, they may find the relatively less sleek Indonesia more refreshiing and give her the crown, or other members of the “Glorious Eight” may swipe the crown from her grasp.
*These icons heyday was in the late 1990s to early 2000s, where along with Hikaru Utada they ruled the Japanese pop scene. These days Japanese pop is basically dominated by AKB48 and its offshoots, or any boyband from Johnny’s & Associates.
Now here’s how my “Fearful” Forecast:
TOP FIVE: INDONESIA, PHILIPPINES, POLAND, UNITED KINGDOM, VENEZUELA
TOP TEN: CANADA, COLOMBIA, HAWAII, JAPAN, MEXICO
BUBBLING UNDER: ARGENTINA, AUSTRALIA, BELGIUM, BOLIVIA, FINLAND, GUATEMALA, INDIA, KOREA, MALAYSIA, NETHERLANDS, NEW ZEALAND, NICARAGUA, PERU, PUERTO RICO, SOUTH AFRICA, SWEDEN, UKRAINE, U S A, VIETNAM
STRIKING DISTANCE: COSTA RICA, GUADELOUPE, MOLDOVA, NORWAY, PANAMA, RUSSIA
I’m both going to be so excited and heartbroken as I watch the livestream of this pageant tomorrow–excited as we have a stellar set of contenders to root for, and heartbroken that there are only ten slots available. It will be fun if the outcome of this pageant is similar to Miss Grand Internatlonal–and me hoping that the Top Two places are swapped in this pageant for our favor…
All images courtesy of Jory Rivera for OPMB Worldwide unless otherwise indicated.