32 comments on “Miss Grand International: My 10 Favorite National Costumes

  1. Beautiful costumes. Love Thailandia’s costume. I love their outside the box ideas and not the pageant patty feathery, sexy, flirty passe costumes.

  2. I was expecting over-the-top sensationalism–after all, this is MGI–and I was disappointed. However, the ladies and their teams deserve all the kudos for pulling off these creations in the midst of the pandemic.

    Norman, I agree with your choices. Those fabrics are real artisanship, and the thinking behind the themes is remarkable. What stood out for me is a rather different list, though.

    1. Laos. Rated A for effort on that Naga dragon. I don’t recall any Naga dragon represented on stage by any Southeast Asian sash in recent years, so this one’s a good debut. She could have worked it better, but the visual impact on the stage is undeniable. There’s a serious wealth of craftsmanship in Laos (and Myanmar): production designers and visual merchandisers, take note!

    2. Spain. There’s truly nothing new that one can do with the flamenco dress. MG Spain, though, sizzled in that bloody sangria affair. Did you notice how she bent backward ala Pilita Corrales in those very tight ruffles? And anyone wanting to use the abanico (or pericon) must be schooled by La Madre Patria Espana. Puerto Rico, take note.

    3. Thailand. If not LED lights, why not soap bubbles, right? MG Thailand had so much fun rowing that canal boat: the joy was infectious. As Norman said, the allusion to Thai tourism is well entrenched in what MG is doing.

    4. THE USA. First, the very black cape: “I stand for all my fellow Black Americans whose lives matter in these Disunited States of America”. And then the very white Colonial dress: “I stand for all my fellow African-Americans whose lives did not matter in Colonial America.” She just threw a genius clap-back at America’s cancel culture. With matching facial (and arm) expressions.

    5. And then the tired, repetitive birds. Thank goodness Colombia’s yellow feathers, Ecuador’s raven dance, and the Philippines’ golden extravaganza saved the theme from boredom.

    Kudos to KF for having sensational craftsmanship–way above what Rachel Peters had to endure. But the birdy should now be given a rest: Gazini has already peaked it.

  3. Four recent (2016-2019) terrible (disastrous) national costumes from the Philippines made by Filipino designers:

    1. Rachel Peter’s Sarimanok and Darna inspired NC for MU (2017),
    2. Mariel De Leon’s Sarimanok and Labandera inspired NC for MI (2017),
    3. Eva Patanlinjug’s very boring terno for MGI (2018), and
    4. Maxine Medina’s Maranao/Maguindanao princess inspired NC ( with plunging neckline and a headpiece that looks like a chandelier) for MU (2016).

    Two from A&Q and two from KF para fair. He, he, he…

    • @ paul Maayo’ng aga.

      Aaawww…. I liked Max’s headpiece. 😦

      Here’s my Five Best recent Traje Tipico de Filipinas, amigo. From 5th to 1st place.

      5 > Maxine’s, as you just described.
      4 > SamBer’s ‘tandikan princess’ at BBP 2019.
      3 > Clenci’s ‘T-boli guitarist’ at MGI 2017.
      2 > Cat’s ETHEREAL Jearson Demavivas Bangsamoro socialite at BBP 2018. This one literally made me swear! Upon seeing it, I uttered (beep!). In pink and gold, like straight out of Paris HC!

      And 1 es Cary Santiago’s silvery-white PJ* for Gazini at MU 2019. That was A-L-T-A. 🙂

      * – Pithecophaga jeffreyi.

      • Maayong aga Flor. Thank you Flor for your great response (though not necessary agreeing to all what you said). You know naman I am NOT a FAN of either Medina or Ganados, that’s why no matter what they wear, ayaw ko talaga sa kanila (for a number of reasons).

        Dira ra ka mag-holy week sa NCR?

  4. JawsKuh😱 Ang dami ng naiinggit at naaalarm sa kakayahan ng M Pageantry at Kay Lakay/Baket Kenyong hihihi. Ang mga hampaslupa talaga ayaw magshare ng space sa kinagagalawan nila. Mga demonyong ganid hihihi. In short, mga Timawa at Hampaslupa divahhhh hihihi cherette 🤗
    Paano na kung mag-umpisa na rin ako😠 cherette lang hihihi 👅

  5. Nakita na natin kung gaano kagaling ang mga Pinoy sa pag-create ng mga life-size na mga ibon!

    National Costume pala ni Miss Japan eh Pinoy din ang gumawa!

    The next challenge now,

    Sino kaya ang makakagawa naman ng life size sampaguita na hindi lang embroidered sa isang butterfly dress na predictive or usual na natin nakikita bagkus isang design na mala-Victoria’s Secret ang presentation!

    • @ ClaiRe IbbeTson For that life-size ‘sampaguita’, I respectfully nominate Paolo Ballesteros!

      I’m confident he can pull it off. 🙂

      (It shouldn’t be too hard in theory. PLENTY of ‘flower dresses’ have been done in Parisian ateliers. What must be avoided is messiness; it’s easy to end up with excess-useless fabric if you are reluctant to edit. And take note! Jasmine are essentially star-shaped. For inspiration, look at those little white stars lined up behind the clear No.5 bottle in the centenary ad for Chanel’s signature scent.)

    • Why use the ancient introduced exotic Sampaguita… When our national endemic flower is the Waling-waling which is the base species of expensive orchid hybrids produced by our neighboring countries due to it’s large multiple blooms and unique marking patterns?

      • The mussaendas–the Donya Auroras, Trinings, and all those first ladies–are another Philippine endemic group that are now heavily propagated elsewhere. My apartment community here in New Delhi (where I live) is filled with these–and I make sure everyone knows about its provenance kahit hindi sila nagtatanong or walang interest itanong :).

      • @ panchopolo Mussaendas are L-O-V-E. 🙂

        The home where my maternal cousins lived had a H-U-G-E specimen. It was the ‘original’ white ‘Aurora’. In full bloom, it looked like a cumulus cloud on the ground! We visited the relatives many weekends, so I remember it well…

        Those lining the Main Avenue of the Diliman campus of UP, last I saw a few years back, were reduced to pathetic stubs apparently due to ruthless marcotting. But I think the hot flame-pink ‘Trining’ lining the outer rim of the Los Banos campus are in better shape. But that was even longer ago; I haven’t gone beyond NCR in a while, so I no longer have an idea how they are doing now.

      • @Flor Tula, the Donya Aurora at your cousins’ place must have been such a lovely sight to see. Of all the mussaendas, it’s the prisine Aurora that I am fond of.

        Did you know that there are much more varieties now than the first ladies? I didn’t, until I Googled for a “huge original Aurora” (na-intriga ako sa pinsan mo). There’s apparently one named after ex-UP President Emerlinda Roman. Hmmm. I will probably remember a 300% tuition fee hike when I see that variety 🙂

    • Medyo overused ang floral theme, but bongga ang sampaguita! Let her enter the stage with sampaguita buds wrapping her Victoria’s Secret nude body stockings, and leave the stage with those buds fully opened. And instead of throwing petals in the air like what Bulgaria did, i-sprayin ang buong auditorium with sampaguita air freshener.

      Hayaang malorka si Nawat at mag-sneeze-fest ang mga beki sa audience. Memorable.

      • @ panchopolo .. natawa ako sa mag spray ng sampaguita air freshener and the ensuing sneeze fest.🤣🤣🤣 but that’s a nice idea/suggestion.. sampaguita buds fully opening.. designers, any takers..??

      • O di ba? Drama kung drama–we’re the true Drama Queens of the East, after all. Someone mentioned our girl flying sa ere–my gas! If we pull this off, we’re again on the record books.

    • Those flora and fauna that serves as “national symbols” were picked by our American colonizers meant to make us look inferior to them… That is why for Example, the original National Bird was originaly the Maya instead of the Philippine Eagle..

  6. This might be off topic tito norms…my apologies if I will post it here, but I’d like to comment more on the hairstyle of Samber since a lot has been mentioned about her costume and presentation, and I agree with some of the comments about hopefully her dancing skills were utilized and showcased of course not with that kind of costume and weight.

    I am not an expert but I’d like to see her sport a different hairstyle come prelims and finals. I have seen her in the wavy and curly style the past two segments, and with the straight hair down for the interview…

    For the swimsuit, I am okay with the current but if she’d like to change it a but perhaps a “middle wavy/curly ponytail” that will also allow her to still flip it, or have it move with her twists and turn.

    In the evening gown segment, I dont know if this low straight “sleek ponytail” style (of Kendall Jenner) will suit her. Well, it depends on what she’ll be wearing and how her other adornment will compliment her total look (just like that of Catrionas earcuffs and soft wavy hair, or Pia’s low small bun perfectly matched with her earrings). but I am just putting this here. perhaps it is just me, trying to imagine her in a different vibe. As what we say she’s also chameleon, and she could use that to her advantage.. again, this is just me. good luck to Samber.


  7. Colorful, festive, and grandiose!

    These are the marks of the candidates’ dresses which I always expect during the parade of national costumes in any international beauty pageants. Honestly, in this year’s MGI, I couldn’t pick the best national costume because many of them have shown authentic designs that best describe their culture and nationality. Let the judges do their job on that aspect.

    Nevertheless, I will not end my comment without telling a piece about our very own Sam’s national costume. While hers is by far a 10-time upgrade from any of Alfredo Barazza’s national costume creation for our candidates, I still found lackuster in the creation. I thought it was not polished, and the whole concept was quite a mess. It was a lot downgrade from Gazini Ganado’s national costume which was created by no less than Cebu’s A-list designer, Cary Santiago. Take note that Gazini’s eagle-inspired national costume was handcrafted in pure silvery white, but the whole ensemble did not look boring and dull. That is because the concept, design, detail and all are Met Gala-ish. A total perfection.

    Thus, I consider Cary Santiago’s national costume, again, a gold standard in Philippine pageantry. And I hope that Filipino fashion designers who will dress our Philippine representatives in any international beauty pageant should follow suit.

    That’s all.

    • My dear Ana Winter-Lund pasensya na at magre-react ako (negatively) sa iyong post. Cary Santiago is NOT always on point. For one, he is not an experienced beauty pageant designer. Inamin niya rin ito in one of his statements/reaction and/or interviews. He was bashed a LOT by Filipino pageant fans & critics alike during the time of Gazini for his three similar gowns worn by the latter.

      Mariel de Leon is a case to point Cary’s weakness as a BP designer. A master of the so called laser cutting, he can create intricate designs (cuts) which are marvelous to look at. He did use this technique in creating Mariel’s national costume for Miss International. The silhouette of the dress (knee length) looks more or less like a duster (that pambahay dress of the nanays) in a very dull color – DARK GRAY. Mariel also wore a tall “sarimanok” inspired head piece done also through laser cut. The over-all look of Mariel’s NC was nearly short of a disaster. Para siyang labandera na may labada sa ibabaw ng kanyang ulo at kagagaling lang sa sapa.

      I have seen many of the gowns created by Cary Santiago up close and personal in a fashion exhibit held in Abreeza Mall many years ago. He likes dull colors and the fabrics (suitable for laser cut) used are not that good and impressive specially if you are very near to the creations. He is a bit of an avant garde BUT NOT really good (as a FD) for beauty contenders.

      Moreover, Gazini’s MU preliminary golden gown was bashed for being ‘costumey’ and similar to her other two gowns (the MU final red & the BB fuschia). NANALO rin siya ng BEST Costume courtesy of thousands/millions of our kababayans who voted for. But Malaysia’s Peranakan inspired NC was really the most beautiful and artistically done, thus featured during the announcement of the NC winner.

      • Paul dear, I admire how you were able to write down your criticisms or feedback to Cary’s creations for some of our candidates in international pageants. You sound objective because there are factual bases on your gutsy statement. I maybe agreeing on your point, but there is no denying the fact that Gazini’s National Costume was a topnotch, such that it won the hearts of many pageant fans let alone Filipino fans.

        Albeit some not-so-outstanding creations—which even fashion legends such as Christian Dior, Valentino, Alexander McQueen, etc. had also their fair share—Cary has significantly established her brand and made a mark in the Philippine fashion industry. She is highly respectable couturier in the south, an A-list at that.

        O, hala! Mag-comment na tayo sa taas, at marami ng entry si Tito Norms. Kaloka.

        That’s all.

      • Thank you so much Ana Winter-Lund for such a gracious reply to my reaction to your post. We may differ in some things or views, BUT one important element present is – RESPECT. Again, thank you and you are growing on me.

        Good morning to all.

      • This is still a beautiful world despite the pandemic, Paul. We may have different views, but we are civil enough to agree to disagree. And we love beauty pageants!!!

        That’s all.

  8. Was vacillating on Guatemala for Best. While certainly eye-pleasing, it just looks (to me) ungainly.

    My Best is… BOLIVIA. GOOD example of avian reference without having to resort to the cliche-convenient ‘Carnaval’ bird suits. 🙂

    (To understand how/why, google ‘altiplano’, guys.)

    Also loving Malaysia’s. Like Clenci’s “T-boli” rock guitarist, which was apt given that she plays the instrument in real life.

  9. Tito Norms, gaano katotoo ang chika na na-collapse si Samantha after ng National Costume Competition dahil 50 kilos ang bigat ng kanyang costume?

  10. Guatemala is definitely a showstopper. The things to remember when competing in a national costume competition are the design, color, and uniqueness. I’d love to see designs that really give a good memory imprint to the audience and Guatemala has it all during the competition. But Sam Bernardo is already preparing for something big on the 27th. Let us just support our Binibini as One Nation. Go Sam Bernardo for the golden crown. I believe that you are the chosen one.

    • I just realized now who Anne Cole is hahaha anyway no matter what let us support our Binibini to get the coveted golden crown of MGI 2020. All the best to Sam Bernardo.

  11. I agree with most of your choices Norman.

    The most polished , stunning for me was Bolivia. Look how intricate, bright, and well made it is.

    Guatemala’s was stunning and jaw dropping if only for that huge backdrop. This will be the new benchmark in terms of size and grandeur.

    Indonesia and Thailand made me smile. That is what i meant by “joyous”. Creative, modern, and fun and yet very well represented their respective countries. Reminds of the pineapple gown of our past Ms U candidate/

    I will be happy if any of the four above will get the best title.

    World Peace.

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