Universal limelight for Ireland’s warrior queen

From the gold laden glitter of an Aztec headdress adorning Miss Honduras to the perky buzby sported by Miss Great Britain and the fearsome Celtic warrior floated on stage by Ireland’s Lisa Madden, the national costume show was all about pride of place during the 63rd annual Miss Universe Competition at Florida International University in Miami.

Universal limelight for Ireland’s warrior queen

Looking like a one-woman army, Lisa Madden, Miss Universe Ireland, wore a dramatic costume of armour in shades of red straight from the early Middle Ages while Britain’s Grace Levy showed off a 21st-century slimmed-down version of a Grenadier Guard uniform at Buckingham Palace.

Earlier, the Cork model who is studying dentistry at UCC played a round of golf with Donald Trump, who owns the Miss Universe pageant.

Ireland’s costume was created by Claire Garvey, a designer based in Temple Bar who has designed everything from wedding outfits to mobile phone covers for Nokia.

All the ladies wore a range of costumes more elaborate than you would find at a celebrity wedding, each featuring a symbol of their nation’s culture and spanning a dress inspired by the Byzantine era on Miss Russia to the national tree sprouted by Miss Venezuela.

Adorned with 10 ice hockey sticks and an electronic scoreboard, Chanel Beckenlehner risked electrocution while doing her bit for Canada’s national sport.

The Dominican Republic was graced in every sense by an angelic salute to the country’s patron saint, Our Lady of Altagracia. The costume worn by Miss Dominican Republic, Kimberly Castillo, drew the most attention — not all of it favourable.

The designer of the dress, Leonel Lirio, maintains that it’s a work of art, created to celebrate Our Lady and the Infant Jesus.

“The dress is embroidered by hand, decorated with a special stamping technique. Its blue veil is stamped with stars and represents the light that radiates from her extraordinary presence in the soul of the nation,” he said.

As cool as an icicle, Finland’s Bea Toivonen looked like a beautiful swan or an ice maiden in her all-white outfit, complete with wings.

German contestant Josefin Donat didn’t quite wear her heart on her sleeve but looked a picture in an outfit with prints of Berlin on her skirt and the Brandenburg Gate on her chest.

Miss Sri Lanka, Marianne Page, was the most patriotic of all as the only contestant to make her own national costume. The outfit features intricate beading, jewels and several metres of tiny mirrors.

The contestants, meanwhile, are gearing up for the final of the competition which takes place in Miami on Sunday.

The stress levels were rising for most of them, but not for Nia Sanchez who came dressed in an elaborate version of the stars and stripes on the American flag. The metre-long white feathers were all hand-stitched onto her silk corset.

“I don’t feel any extra pressure because, oh my God! it’s in my own country,” she said. “I’lI actually feel I have less pressure. I can just go in there and have fun because I’m in a comfortable zone.”

The final of the Miss Universe pageant takes place at Florida University in Miami on Sunday.

More than 80 contestants from around the world will compete in swimsuit, evening gown, and interview rounds in going for the crown.

The event will be hosted by Natalie Morales of America’s Today show and MSNBC anchor veteran, Thomas Roberts.

READ MORE:You have to see Miss Ireland’s ’Celtic Warrior’ costume

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