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And the real winner of 71st Miss Universe is … South Africa

Move aside R'Bonney Gabriel, here's to the real winner of the 71st Miss Universe contest ... Miss South Africa 2022, Ndavi Nokeri. Thanks largely to her well crafted costumes that speaks to her strong Tsonga-African roots, the Limpopo-born South African beauty has been hailed by her fellow country men and women for bringing Mzansi's name back to the global stage in ways deserving praise, respect and admiration. Below are all the looks that remains a highlight of the Miss Universe South Africa's unforgettable 2022/23 journey.

It was Miss USA R’Bonney Gabriel who was officially crowned the 71st Miss Universe. But the Houston-native, 28, isn’t the only one who got audiences eating out the palm of their hands during the live broadcast of the beauty pageant in Louisiana, New Orleans on Saturday night, ultimately proving that “as women age doesn’t define us” as she best put it during her final Q&A answer, and as it’s the case with her, it shouldn’t be used to stop one from becoming a force for good.

For many patriotic South Africans back home, Miss South Africa 2022 Ndavi Nokeri has been hailed as an ultimate champion for bringing Mzansi’s name back to the global stage.

Among familiar names who praised her for a job well done is Miss South Africa 2021 Lalela Mswane, advocate Thuli Madonsela and Miss Universe 2019 Zozibini Tunzi, who, in her Instagram live stream during the finale, described Ndavi as a beautiful woman inside out. Most notably, 947 presenter Anele Mdoda particularly highlighted, in a Twitter post earlier on the day, a series of striking designer outfits the Limpopo born beauty (who was crowned Miss SA 2022 August last year) wore in the road leading to the Miss Universe finale, which speaks to her strong Tsonga-African roots.

Not only that, the official Miss Universe Twitter account also sent out a live tweet in praise of Ndavi’s colourful evening gown as seen below.

The outfits in question are the works of a handful of local artisans, led by the Johannesburg-based designer Juan Visser of Juan William Aria, who was responsible for the national evening costume and the couture gown for the finale, as well as the gold announcement dress she wore during the dress reveal event in Johannesburg in October 2022.

The dress, said Visser, represented the minerals and wealth of South Africa, and to captured that, he played with gold tones, lots of jewels and precious stones as seen below.  

The gold announcement dress she wore during the reveal in October. The dress, said Visser, represented the minerals and wealth of South Africa.

Handsewn to perfection: Miss Universe South Africa’s colourful journey

Below are all the looks that remains a highlight of the 2022 Miss Universe South Africa’s unforgettable journey. 

Preliminary outfit: ode to Limpopo

Inspired by the sand from Gabaza village, where Ndavi was born and raised, the bronze preliminary gown has over 100 000 sequins on it.

Representing both South Africa and her hometown of Limpopo, the brass/metallic couture evening gown was inspired by the sand from Gabaza village, where Ndavi was born and raised.

Boasting over 100 000 sequins, the gown had eight artisans working on it, and took 462-man hours in total to create.

Finale gown: beaded to perfection

Handsewn and beaded to perfection, the finale dress has a significant amount of beading on it, with over 1400 different unique colour stones. “We wanted royal colours and it took 530 men hours to create.

It took 530 men hours to create Ndavi’s masterpiece finale gown.

“We wanted royal colours and it took 530 men hours to complete, handsewn and beaded to perfection,” Visser told the media.

National costume: Ode to vibrant Tsonga-African heritage

African Pride took centre stage at the Miss Universe stage.

Ndavi’s first national costume is an ode to the Tsonga people of South Africa, known for their bright and colourful attires.

This masterpiece was created by Sello Modupe, founder of Scalo Designs, with creative direction from Werner Wessels.

Editor's Desk
Editor's Desk
Curated by editor-in-chief, Tankiso Komane, this special collection of articles from the Editor's Desk unpacks topics of the day, including commentary, in-depth analysis and partner content.
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