It's finally Miss Universe 2023, and all eyes are on Michelle Marquez Dee. Of course, one of the most anticipated segments of the pageant is the evening gown competition, and everyone has waited with bated breath for her ensemble—and needless to say, she did not disappoint!
We all know that Michelle’s personal style is everything but stereotypical, and her taste for evening gowns proves just that! Having previously worn Mark Bumgarner for the preliminary competition (let’s not forget her daring green cutout dress that was an ode to her mom Melanie Marquez), the Filipina beauty queen opted to tap the designer once again to create a symbolic look to walk down on the Miss Universe runway.
“A tribute to a legendary Filipina who has become an icon, preserving the rich cultural heritage of indigenous tattoo art. She has achieved global recognition and symbolizes timeless beauty, coinciding with Miss Universe lifting its age restrictions, championing inclusivity and challenging age stereotypes. A true icon and the last of her kind, a symbol of bravery, beauty, and inclusivity… Whang Od.” Michelle captioned her Instagram post.
“This evening gown draws inspiration from the icon, with every stitch crafted passionately and proudly dedicated to our country, “ she adds.
The video showcases the intricate bodice detail of her dress that is inspired by the work of the legendary tattoo artist. It's definitely not a frock you'd expect for a beauty pageant but that's what makes the design even more special and memorable.
In a behind-the-scenes video shared by the designer he shares that "every beadwork was made with love and pride, for [Michelle] and our country." It truly is a historic design that not only puts the spotlight on a distinctly Filipino art form but also recognizes the work of another Filipina.
We cannot be more proud of you, MMD and Mark, for this meaningful work merging both fashion and art!