Besides our bet Beatrice Gomez landing in the top 10, Filipinos have a lot to celebrate in this edition of Miss Universe. Aside from our own Marian Rivera becoming a judge for the competition, Filipino talent shone in this year’s pageant—including the designer who created the winning national costume!
Filipino designer Kennedy Jhon Gasper express his joy on social media after Miss Nigeria Maristella Okpala was declared the winner for the National Costume during the Miss Universe coronation night.
“Thank you, Lord,” the 20-year-old designer wrote on Facebook, “I still cannot believe it. I was crying while hugging my mother. Thank you to all those who congratulated me.”
ICYMI, Kennedy first made waves online earlier this year after his creation for Miss Cameroon at the 69th Miss Universe pageant turned heads.
According to Kennedy, Miss Nigeria’s costume was inspired by a famous traditional masquerade of the southeastern tribe of Nigeria called Mmanwa and is made of African beads, stones, and crafts. The costume features a three-foot tribal mask and a cape that boldly features the Mmanwa’s face.
Mmanwa is a female masquerade costume for ceremonial and festive purposes that celebrates “the rich Nigerian cultural heritage, (while) paying closer attention to the strength women possess.”
On Instagram, the designer said that the costume represents “the beautiful Mmanwa who fought tirelessly to stop girl child mutilation and child slavery.” Meanwhile, the colorful patterns and embellishments takes inspiration from dashiki, the vibrant African garment, meant “to invoke the ancestral spirits.”
“I picked this particular costume because I see a self-reflection of my cause in this Mmanwa who protects children and women against any form of abuse,” Kennedy wrote on Instagram.
The designer added that the costume pays homage to the strong will of women in attaining their desired goals.
Kennedy is a student at the Central Luzon State University, taking up Bachelor of Science degree in Fashion and Textile Technology. He also designed a costume for another candidate in this edition of Miss Universe, Haiti’s Pascale Belony.