The Story Behind Celeste Cortesi’s Miss Universe Preliminary Looks

Dion Trinidad

Dion Trinidad

The Miss Universe Philippines representative made waves with her Preliminary outfits.

At the 71st Miss Universe Pageant, Filipino fans made noise all around the world for this year’s representative for the Philippines, Celeste Cortesi. The half-Filipino half-Italian beauty queen dazzled the crowd during the swimsuit, evening gown, and national costume portion of the pageant’s preliminary rounds.

The preliminary portion’s swimsuit segment included something new this year. According to 2021 Miss Universe Harnaaz Sandhu, in addition to the contestant’s usual swimsuits, the girls will also wear a cape. The capes should either be designed by the contestants or by artists in their home countries.

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Cortesi stepped out in a hot pink two-piece suit and a white cape covered in multi-colored handprints. Shortly after, Miss Universe Philippines posted a statement by the beauty queen revealing that her cape was created with the beneficiaries of the Save the Children Philippines foundation.

“In amplifying the voices of the children who need our help, I wanted to bring them with me on the Miss Universe stage,” she writes. “I was reminded of my own Mother who struggled to provide for my sister and I. Unfortunately, there are millions of children who live in poverty, amidst a crisis. I hope that it inspires people to donate to Save the Children Philippines.”

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For the evening gown portion. Cortesi stepped out in a dazzling blush-blue Oliver Tolentino gown. The Beverly Hills-based Filipino designer has made a mark on the international industry and has dressed Hollywood legends such as Emmy Rossum, Jessica Alba, and Carrie Underwood.

He tells Vogue Philippines that his creation for Cortesi made use of Art Deco motifs, painstakingly crafted with a combination of tulle, heavily embellished French lace, and accented with strips of Thai silk before thousands of crystals were sewn on by hand.

“The gown features two see-through front slits and a godet featuring a butterfly design (a specific request of Celeste as a reminder of her late father),” Tolentino tells us. “The color blue is special because Celeste means Heavens in Italian and her father looked up at the sky when he was holding her and knew her name would be Celeste.”

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Last comes the national costumes, the crowd-stopping portion of the night; one that draws in viewers whether they’re pageant fans or not. Cortesi stunned the crowd as she strutted the stage as Darna, a cultural icon widely considered one of the most popular Filipino superheroes.

The costume was also made by Tolentino, with the support of JRB Creative Production, the team behind ABS-CBN’s Mars Ravelo’s Darna: The TV Series. In a statement on JRB’s page, the creators expressed their gratitude for bringing the Filipino Superheroine to the global stage. They also added that creator Mars Ravelo’s family fully extended their support in using the character for the pageant segment.

Tolentino tells us that he only found out about the look on New Year’s Eve, and had just four days to put the costume together. Despite the time limits, the designer managed to put together a showstopping look that resonated with Filipinos around the world.

Stay tuned for more coverage of the 71st Miss Universe Pageant.

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