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Pinoy designer gets a crack at Ms. Universe

Miss Zambia Isabel Chikoti tries the national costume created for her by Filipino designer Carl Andrada at the dressing of Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas during the 2017 Miss Universe pageant. Photo © Tony Garcia

A BUDDING Filipino fashion designer from Los Angeles had the opportunity to show off his creativity in the runway of the recently concluded Ms. Universe 2017 pageant held in Las Vegas.

Carl Andrada’s design, which was worn by Miss Zambia Isabel Chikoti, didn’t make it to the top 10 best national costumes. It was Miss Japan Momoko Abe who won the Miss Universe national costume competition but the Miss Universe Zambia team was apparently impressed with Andrada and already retained the designer for next year’s competition.

I am so happy that they really liked my gown and I am looking forward to again create Ms. Zambia’s national costume next year,” Andrada said, adding that it has always been a dream for him to see his work being worn on the runway of the Miss Universe pageant.

Andrada was assisting a candidate from Mrs. Asia-USA at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center when the Miss Universe National Costume competition was airing.

Naluha po ako sa tuwa habang pinapanood ko online ‘yung lumalakad si Miss Zambia na suot ‘yung design kong national costume,” Andrada recalled.

I dedicate the honor to Mamang. Her dedication to her craft and arts inspired me.”

Filipino designer Carl Andrada takes a selfie with Miss Zambia Isabel Chikoti at the sidelines of the 2017 Miss Universe pageant in Las Vegas last month. Photo © Tony Garcia

Miss Zambia’s costume received a lot of positive feedback from pageant enthusiasts and from Zambian people as well.

Last July, a friend introduced Andrada to Alma Cabasal, Miss Philippines Earth-Water, who was then looking for outfits to wear for the launching of “Trash in a Bin” campaign being spearheaded by Miss Earth Ghana Deborah Eyram Dudor in Accra, the capital of Ghana.

Andrada sent Cabasal some gowns to wear to the affair.

Cabasal’s roommate 2016 Miss Earth Zambia Katrina Ketty Kabaso were impressed by Andrada’s designs and asked permission to wear a couple of them.

Kabaso got a lot of compliments while wearing Andrada’s gowns which were labeled as Carmelo Designs.

The event was attended by the First Lady of Ghana Mrs. Rebecca Akufo-Addo.

Weeks later, Kabaso recommended Andrada to Alice Rowlands Fall-Mordi, national director of Miss Universe-Zambia and 2010 Miss Universe-Zambia.

It was exciting but challenging as well, Andrada recalled.

I am quite adept in designing Philippine costume, but I haven’t done a costume for another country,” Andrada said.

Andrada spent a lot of time researching on the internet on Zambia’s history, geography, culture, and even products to be able to come up with a design.

The Filipino designer came up with a design that touches on the Zambian national flag and copper, a mineral abundant in the said country and considered as one of the greatest contribution of Zambia to mankind.

Upon approval of the design, Andrada worked with Philippine-based prop master Marlon Soriano.

Andrada has been designing costumes and evening gowns for contestants of Binibining Pilipinas-USA, Miss Philippines-USA and Miss/Mrs. Asia-USA pageants since 2015. He has been participating in the weekly Metropolitan Fashion.

Andrada uses unconventional techniques and employs indigenous materials on his designs. His first experience to design for an international beauty pageant was during 2015 Miss Earth pageant in Vienna, Austria.

During the competition, Andrada created the national costume of Miss Earth-Suriname from braided coco palm leaves.

In the 2016, won the Best National Costume Award at the 2016 Binibining Pilipinas-USA(now Miss Filipina International pageant). The costume was created from “banig” and “tambo.”

Abner Galino
The author is a poet and a writer. He was a cultural worker before he became a reporter for Tinig ng Masa and Malaya Midday Edition during the Marcos regime. He later became a reporter of People's Tonight shortly after 1986 EDSA Revolution. He went on to become its Chief of Reporters, City Editor and News Editor. He retired after 15 years in the Journal Group of Publications. He now writes for Weekend Balita and the US Asian Post (USAP), weekly Filipino-American newspapers based in Los Angeles, California.

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