Rant and Rave: Glimmer through the gaps of the Miss Universe 2023 Top 10 Evening Gowns

Ten queens made their countries proud as they strutted down the stage in exquisite regalia created by their best local designers.


The 72nd edition of Miss Universe was characterized by the distinct spirits of transformational women. Not only did this year’s pageant feature married, plus-size, and transgender women as potential bearers of the crown, but the semifinalists were narrowed down to 10 queens in place of the customary 16. Nonetheless, this year’s evening gown portion spotlighted the candidates’ power and grace as they paraded down the runway in the José Adolfo Pineda National Gymnasium in El Salvador, last November 19. 

Lacking in luster—1.5 to 2.0 out of 4.0

The evening gown segment displayed the top 10 finalists in their most radiant adornments, though some dresses fell short of bringing the candidates’ full beauty to light. Under the bright lights of the Miss Universe stage, the muted tones of the gowns worn by the Australia, El Salvador, and Peru candidates dimmed the extravagant showcase. 

Moraya Wilson of Australia donned a beige mermaid-style gown. The form-fitting bodice was intricately embellished in silver crystal beading and embroidery down to her mid-thigh, dwindling as the dress flared out in a cream organza train that trailed behind the queen as she walked. While the garment itself was stunning, it leaned fully onto the bridal nature of designer Alin Le’ Kal’s work and wasn’t made distinctive for the Miss Universe stage. Its nude palette resulted in a monochromatic look that lacked depth and failed to compliment the queen’s sun-kissed complexion. 

Similarly, El Salvador’s Isabella García-Manzo strutted a gold-lined, white crossbody gown with jeweled detailing and elegant draping. While its composition and design were more inventive than Miss Australia’s, the pearlescent color was still quite reminiscent of nuptial wear. Additionally, the shoulder straps on El Salvador’s dress seemed loose during her walk; this may have been intentional, but to the average viewer, the dress appeared ill-fitting instead of gracefully flattering on its wearer.

Verging on brilliance, Camila Escribens of Peru sashayed in a cerulean and silver one-shoulder gown. The sparkling diagonal boning across the entire dress congregated upwards in an extended shoulder accouterment, which jutted out awkwardly due to its shape and paler color. With all the dress’ large cut-outs, there felt no need for a singular strap around Escriben’s waist, while the solid band at the hem of the gown only thwarted the garment’s celestial feel. 

Glimmers of golden—3.0 out of 4.0

Comparatively, the queens representing Venezuela, Nicaragua, Colombia, and Spain shone brighter in their gowns as their charms dazzled the audience. 

Venezuela’s Diana Silva appeared in a shimmering body-con gown, with sparkly champagne-hued gems framing a pentagonal cut-out on her chest. Her gown featured a unique, full-fringe scalloped skirt that danced with her every step, giving the dress a more magical siren-like aura than Miss Australia’s mermaid silhouette. 

Sheynnis Palacios of Nicaragua—this year’s Miss Universe crown bearer—walked in an off-shoulder cream-colored gown, studded with variously shaped jewels from head to toe, wearing similarly encrusted flesh-toned arm sleeves. As an added touch, she also sported a sky-blue cape that wrapped around her elbows. Though a clear nod to the Immaculate Mary, the cool undertones of the cape were offset by the warm tones of her gown, thus appearing to be a half-baked decision that did not marry the overall outfit together. 

In a delicate see-through gold to green gradient dress, Spain representative Athenea Pérez led the audience’s eyes to the stone-flecked patterns that scaled her tulle gown from the chest down to the feet. The dress was evidently structured to compliment Pérez’s hourglass figure, with the bare sides of her waist and a low back cut. However, it fell short of execution as her hair masked the design that accentuated her back. And while the dress aimed for a sheer skin-like look, the noticeable underwear and silver stilettos were an inharmonious fit with the warm tones of the gown. 

Coming close to the upper tier of evening wear, Colombia’s Camila Avella—the first mother candidate to reach the pageant’s top five—entered the scene in a translucent, body-hugging gown, thoroughly speckled with tiny silver stones that shone even eyes from afar. Cladded with crystal leafy vines that scaled up toward the neckline, the top provided for a corset-build that flowed freely from the waist down. While the gown served Avella’s figure well, the simple approach of the dress came off too tame in comparison with the other candidates’ flair on stage. 

Visionary of valor—perfect 4.0

As a myriad of firsts, the Miss Universe 2023 proved its continued reverence for feminine creativity, beauty, and sophistication from fabric to figure. And these three final countries sewed visionaries into their walk to the crown.

Placed in bronze, Karla Guilfú Acevedo of Puerto Rico stunned watchers with a gown endowed in hues of blues and violets, paired with an amethyst mock neck-shoulder piece made of gypsy bead curtains of blue gemstones hanging off her shoulders. Guilfú’s adorned top beautifully synchronized with the rest of her dress—an opaque blue-jeweled hug that dissolved into a palette of violets at the center, with converging lines that drew eyes toward her waist and flattering figure. The bottom half of the dress perfectly cascaded down with a see-through fabric also adorned with streams of stones and sequins.  

Miss Universe first runner-up Anntonia Porsild of Thailand snags the second place in our ranking, glistening in all her natural glory. The sheerest fabric embellished with silver stones in star and sparkle pattern found its tail end with a mid-back cut. Like a second skin, the gown’s high slit and Porsild’s statement wrist accessory made for an undeniably scintillating glow. 

Finally, the winner in the shadows, Miss Universe Philippines Michelle Dee (PSY, ‘17) tops the list of evening gowns with her black regalia, inspired by the intricate body tattoos of Filipino indigenous tattoo artist Apo Whang-Od. The round neckline and sharp shoulder pads decked with jet black stones formed tribal patterns along her arms and defined the areas around her chest and waist. A lustrous black fabric loosely hung on her waist with a high slit, which gave a seemingly perfect coordination of structure and flow. Completed with golden earrings and slicked back hairstyle, these minute details weaved a gravitational appeal. Truly a morena beauty in black, Dee was a captivating vision on stage engraved in everyone’s minds. 

When the Universe stares

On a night that showcased diverse women, looks, and personalities to thousands of people worldwide, the 72nd Miss Universe pageant has made history abridging gaps in representation of sexualities, social states, and stereotypes. The top 10 finalists may have walked the runway but only a select few owned the stage they waltzed through. After a surreal showcase of sewn works of art, the queens have left the world at the edge of their seats, patiently awaiting the next serene moment for the universe to once again be captivated.

Clarisse Bernal

By Clarisse Bernal

Lei Ventenilla

By Lei Ventenilla

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