Rabiya Mateo’s style for Miss Universe 2020: ‘Regal, feminine, and queen-like’

Published April 13, 2021, 3:36 PM

by John Legaspi

Rabiya’s styling team shares her fashion game for the much-awaited Miss Universe 2020 pageant

The Miss Universe 2020 race is on for the Philippines’ bet Rabiya Mateo as she left the country last April 9, 2021, to attend pre-pageant activities in the US. But before she said her farewell, she first made a patriotic statement through a style that screams, “Lalaban para sa bayan ([I] will fight for the country).”

Before boarding the plane, the beauty queen, who hails from Iloilo, showcased her outfit, a Barong Tagalog-inspired, pearl embellished look made by fashion designers Chino Ledesma Christopherson and Marc Rancy. 

“We had envisioned to do a barong, as sort of homage to tradition, since queens usually fly out with a Filipiñana outfit,” Marc tells Manila Bulletin Lifestyle. “We wanted to do something different this time, and a lady barong was a good idea. It is chic, without losing the cultural identity of the piece.”

“I was given like a week to prepare since it was said that they need the outfit April 5, 2021. So we had the barong conceptualized, chose the perfect fabric, and worked on the materials that we have in our shop and we had all the materials sourced locally,” Chino says. “We finished the barong in three days time that includes embroidery and beadworks.”

And for her first look in the US, Rabiya opted for a contemporary Filipina vibe with a teal terno ensemble by Pampanga-based fashion designer Marlon Tuazon. Taking the creation to the next level is the addition of pearls and seashell trimmings dangling from the butterfly sleeves to the floor. 

Rabiya is truly bringing the Philippines’ culture and heritage with her to the competition through fashion. With the help of styling duo Rain Dagala and Em Millan, Rabiya wears the country with pride via the couture pieces designed by Filipino designers.

“When started with us, she was like a blank canvas and was also in the process of figuring out her own personal style. It hasn’t been defined for her then. We were with her in her journey of identifying that,” Em tells Manila Bulletin Lifestyle. “During the process, we understood that she was gearing toward very classic, feminine, lady-like pieces.”

As fashion has a new purpose when it comes to the world of beauty contest, Em and Rain ensure that they will take full advantage of its power to not only help Rabiya win the crown but also to present what Filipinos have to offer when it comes to style. According to them, expect more queen-like looks from Rabiya. 

“Fashion is also important because the pageant stage is a really loud stage. [It is] where we can showcase talent and creativity and uniqueness. Similar to pageantry, an avenue to showcase beauty and brain, fashion is a way to showcase Filipino talent. We wanted something to supplement the beauty and brain part of it. That’s what we are aiming for,” Em muses. “Of course, we wanted to push the envelope as well, in terms of style, but still making it regal, queen-like, and consistent also with Rabiya’s personal style.”

We can’t wait to see more of her looks!

The 69th edition of Miss Universe will take place on May 16, 2021 (May 17 in the Philippines) at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida. 

Images from @teamrainxem

 
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