One of the kickoff events in line with the upcoming Miss Universe pageant was the National Gift Auction, a charity event, which also doubled as a fashion show with the candidates presenting the national gifts they brought from their home countries. In line with this, fashion industry veterans and favorites like Rajo Laurel, Francis Libiran, Arnold Galang, Patty Ang, Rhett Eala, and Cary Santiago were commissioned to design pieces for the candidates to strut off on the runway. Among the local designers was Kristel Yulo, who created this blue woven gown for Mary Esther Were, Kenya's official delegate.
Shortly after, things took a sad turn when it was revealed that Miss Kenya was unable to wear Kristel's creation. The designer turned to Facebook to air out the "injustice" that happened. "As directed, we waited for hours if any rectification was needed but no call came. They didn't even have the decency to tell me they swapped my dress out," she says in her post.
In an interview with Preview, Kristel further explained her side of the story. "During the week before the show, the organizers cancelled the fitting; they informed us it would just be a submission of the dress." She also mentioned that another memo was released, stating that the designers could bring an assistant to a holding area. "If there are [needed] alterations, they would take photos and they would bring it to us because we aren't allowed backstage," she adds.
Kristel and her head seamstress waited for three hours in the holding area for an update on the status of her gown for Miss Kenya. They were given the "thumbs up," so Kristel sent her seamstress home and then she joined the other designers in the ballroom to finally see the show.
As the show began, Kristel waited in anticipation to see Miss Kenya walk in her woven gown but was shocked to see the candidate wearing a different dress. She said the other designers even tried to console her by saying her gown might have been swapped between candidates like what happened to the other designers' gowns. But as the show ended, Kristel's woven gown still hadn't made it to the runway.
"A lot of work was put into this [dress]. My staff wasn't able to come home to their families for this and didn't have proper sleep and rest," says Kristel, expressing her disappointment. "Monique Galang (the event's point person) was the one who apologized via SMS, [and it was] the only apology I received."
Hoping to get a clarification as to why the dress she designed didn't make it to the runway, Kristel also reached out to Miss Kenya. The candidate's response, according to Kristel, was that she wasn't able to wear the gown "because it was too big and there was no time to fix the dress." She also found out that Miss Kenya was told Kristel wasn't coming to the fitting.
"They (the organizers) knew that she wouldn't be coming out on stage with my design. They had enough time to change the name of the designer for her walk, so they should have had enough time to notify me. That would have been the decent thing to do at this point, instead of me having to watch her come out in a different gown in the company of my peers."
In line with the issue at hand, Kristel plans to file a formal complaint to the Miss Universe Organization.