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Nigeria’s Miss Universe Maristella Okpala Took Home Best National Costume Award



Nigeria’s Miss Universe representative Maristella Okpala took home the Best in National Costume award with a design by Filipino fashion student Kenny Gasper.

Inspired by the famous traditional masquerade of Nigeria’s Mmwana tribe, the elaborate ensemble included a beaded headdress and an intricate tribal mask with a colorful ancient back cape.

In an Instagram post, Okpala wrote that the creation was meant to “celebrate the rich Nigerian cultural heritage, paying a closer attention to the strength women possess.”


She continued, “I picked this particular costume because I see a self-reflection of my cause in this Mmwanwa who protects children and women against any form of abuse. Finally, this costume pays attention to the strong will of women in attaining whatever height they want to attain, no matter the challenges faced while reaching their desired goals.”

After Okpala was named Best in National Costume, Gasper expressed his gratitude in a Facebook post.

“Thank you Lord. Hindi pa rin ako makapaniwala talaga. Umiiyak ako kanina habang kayakap si mama (I still can’t believe it. I was crying earlier while hugging my mom),” he wrote.

Nigeria’s costume marks the second time for Gasper to create a National Costume ensemble for a Miss Universe candidate. During the 69th Miss Universe edition in May, Gasper also made the “Lioness” ensemble worn by Miss Universe Cameroon 2020 Kossinda Angeles.

The 2021 Miss Universe coronation night was held in Eilat, Israel on Sunday, December 12 (Monday morning, December 13 in Manila).

India’s Harnaaz Sandhu won the crown.  Philippines’ Beatrice Luigi Gomez finished in the pageant’s Top 5.

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