Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray on using fashion as a tool to help win the crown

Published May 17, 2021, 10:25 AM

by John Legaspi

If you think she just magically selects pieces, think again!

Catriona carrying a sampaguita-inspired bag by Callibag and in her arrival look designed by Jearson Demavivaa

Catriona Gray’s time in Miss Universe has definitely set a high standard for future Filipina beauty queens and also for international contestants that will compete for the crown. Among the many traits pageant fans all over the world loved about her Miss Universe journey is her wardrobe. With the Philippines’ unique textile and design visionaries, Catriona became a stand out in a sea of beautiful women.

Truly, fashion in today’s pageantry plays a role far beyond just to dazzle people. It creates a statement and becomes an extension of a candidate’s personality. The clothes worn by beauty contestants now communicate even louder than words, thanks to the stories of the hands that crafted them and the special materials that they are made of. That’s what Catriona talks about in her latest vlog. Dubbed “Wardrobe to Win,” the video looks back on her favorite looks from the time she competed for the crown in 2018 and tries to analyze “how much does wardrobe matter in Miss Universe.” Here are some pointers we picked up:

Teamwork is the key

When it comes to pageantry, your style game is only as good as your team. Being a true Capricorn that she is, Catriona planned everything to the T, from Powerpoint presentations to time when the pieces will be packed in suitcases, with her assembly of beauty and style experts. With the help of fashion stylist Justine Aliman and fashion designer Jearson Demavivas, among others, the beauty queen’s journey to the crown is filled with nothing but great Filipino style moments.

Go bold with colors

When it comes to the palette of her wardrobe, Catriona wants it to reflect the Filipino culture, full of vibrancy and spice. There was never a dull Instagram OOTD post during the 2018 competition for young beauty from Albay. She specifically noted to her stylist that her wardrobe’s color story should be just white or full jewel tone, no pastels included.

It’s all about Filipino culture with Lahi Lifestyle’s denim jacket and Ninofranco’s T’boli skirt

Answer the WH questions

Creating a perfect fashion moment does just require food taste and great pairings, but also a senseful edit. What many missed in the process of crafted a look is answering the “WH” questions. Ask yourself these: Who are you meeting? When is the event going to happen? Where are you going? What are you doing there? And what do you think others are going to wear? These can make a difference if you want to command attention. Most of the time, getting ahead of the fashion game requires a proper style edit, which Catriona used to her advantage.

Look for the conversation piece

For Catriona, what she was wearing wasn’t just for facade, it was always about the story to tell. That is why she adorned herself with the best Filipino-made pieces. Whether it is a sampaguita-inspired handbag, a dress made of t’nalak, or a denim jacket with a jeepney embroidery, the pieces she wore should be an avenue to tell something about herself and the Philippines.

The crowned Miss Universe 2018 made a statement with a hot pink ensemble by Erwin Flores and Jearson’s T’nalak dress

Dress for who you are

Just like in many things in our lives, fashion in pageantry is a mirror of who you are. With that said, it is also worth remembering that a good set of clothes and jewelry is a never a must in order to win the crown. “It is not to say that every single representative that will go to Miss Universe needs to have the best wardrobe in order to be successful. That’s absolutely not the case,” Catriona says. “It is really about how a wardrobe makes you feel. How [what] you wear makes you feel. Do you feel confident? Do you feel powerful? Do you feel capable? If your outfit is able to make you feel like that, then that’s the winning outfit.”

Revisit her best looks here: