MANILA — “Fabulous!” This is how Miss Universe-Philippines Design Council head Albert Andrada described the much awaited national costume of Rabiya Mateo at the Miss Universe Parade of Nations on May 13 in Hollywood, Florida.
Details of the costume, designed by the late Pinoy international designer Rocky Gathercole, have been bound in secrecy, but Andrada disclosed to ABS-CBN News that it is inspired by the logo of the Miss Universe-Philippines pageant.
The logo carries the blue and red colors of the national flag with a lady reaching for the stars.
“We are proud and happy with it!” said Andrada, who declined to reveal more details.
Bulacan-based jeweler Manny Halasan was commissioned by Andrada to create the headpiece and accessories of the costume. Halasan previously designed the crown of Binibining Pilipinas Grand International Samantha Bernardo, and Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray’s jewelry for her farewell walk at the 68th Miss Universe in December 2019.
An in-demand fashion designer, he also designed the Carnival Queen-inspired costume of Miss Universe-Philippines runner-up Bella Ysmael; and the crowns of “It’s Showtime’s” Miss Q&A, Miss World Philippines 2017, Miss Asia-Pacific and other pageants. He also designed a tiara worn by music icon Regine Velasquez.
Halasan’s creation, called the “missing piece” of the Gathercole costume, was recently brought to Florida by Miss Universe-Philippines national director Shamcey Supsup.
“I am thankful and blessed that I was given this opportunity,” Halasan told ABS-CBN News Tuesday, citing how he finished his part of the costume in two weeks.
“Noong sinabi sa akin ni Tito Albert Andrada if I can make an accessory jewelry for Rabiya , I was in shock. Pero mas malakas ‘yung excitement and thrill, kasi long-time dream ko maka-collaborate sana si Sir Rocky Gathercole. It’s also a great honor for an artist na makatulong sa pag-represent ng bansa natin sa international stage.”
Halasan also hopes that the overall Philippines costume will be a source of national pride. “Sa panahon ng pandemic, lahat ng tao want to be uplifted. Miss Universe gives us that kind of inspiration and hope again,” he said.
Halasan said he was also stunned by the vision of Gathercole in creating the gown, which will have a surprise element.
“His aesthetic and technique may be different and maverick but I tried my best to complement it, matching the earrings and headpiece to his gown. Buong-buo ‘yung national costume, coherent at iisa pag nakita natin sa stage!” he said. “Sana people can look at the masterpiece from the artists’ perspective.”
World-famous for his avant garde gowns worn by celebrity A-listers, Gathercole was working on Mateo’s gown until he passed away in March 2021.
The Miss Universe national costume showcase is one of the much heralded events of the pageant.
At the last edition, Gazini Ganados won the national costume award for the Philippine eagle-inspired silver gown created by Cebu-based designer Cary Santiago.
Mateo is competing with more than 70 candidates in the pageant, which will have its coronation night this weekend.
The finals will be aired live by ABS-CBN Entertainment on A2Z Channel 11 on May 17, 8 a.m.