MANILA -- "Destination Filipinas" and "Love the Philippines" -- this is the inspiration behind Michelle Marquez Dee’s national costume made in Nueva Vizcaya by designer Michael Barassi.
According to Barassi, the costume, which resembles a plane, is a tribute to Philippine tourism and Dee being an Air Force reservist. Local materials like the ‘solihiya’ was incorporated in the costume which weighs about 15 kilos and took about a month to create.
Barassi said Dee was very hands-on in conceptualizing her national costume.
“The concept itself came from Michelle Dee, she wanted to highlight Philippine tourism. With her national costume, one of our goals was to invite people to come and fly to the Philippines. The solihiya pattern was suggested by Michelle Dee… Aside from the Cordilleran woven fabric, ang dami kong first time sa national costume to be honest. It’s my first time doing fiberglassing technique, first time to work with solihiya pattern, at first time ko incorporating hydronic mechanism and LED lights sa isang costume," he said.
Barassi also shared a trivia about the intricate design at the back of the costume. If you look closely, you will see a painting of Dee’s two brothers in the autism spectrum and her mother and father.
“Michelle Dee’s two brothers in the spectrum, sila yung nasa gitna na nakasakay sa jeepney. Then 'yung mom niya si Melanie (Marquez) and dad niya si Derek Dee, part rin nung painting, they were holding the woven fabric of the Philippines. I tried incorporating her family in the nat cos as well," he said.
Barassi said he is so proud of Dee and all her hard work is showing in her performance in Miss Universe as he hopes she can bring home the fifth crown for the Philippines.
“Kahit ako ang national costume designer, hindi ko pinapanalangin that I would get the best in national costume award. All I pray (for) is I want the Philippines to win the 5th Miss universe crown. All the hard work and effort of Michelle Dee, she deserves to win Miss Universe. All she has to do now is to stay authentic to herself, stay authentic to her advocacy and believe in destiny,” he said.