“It’s beautiful to see that the pageant world has become more in tune with the current fashion trends.”

Beauty pageant connoisseur and current Director of Communications of Miss Universe Philippines, Voltaire Tayag, combines his expertise as a magna cum laude graduate of a fashion school and experiences in the pageant industry as we delve into the two worlds.

Voltaire Tayag

Fashion people usually scoffed at pageant style

Voltaire shares that there had been a time when pageant style had been stuck with “the big hair and over-the-top gowns.” While this may not necessarily be a bad thing, “In reality shows like Project Runway, the fashion industry judges would say ‘it’s too pageant,’” Voltaire writes. Unfortunately, those statements weren’t meant as a compliment.
Even so, pageantry and fashion have a lot more in common than people think. “Pageantry and fashion are a great way to express oneself. Both allow one to dream and be motivating forces to get one to act. Both also seem to draw out the inner confidence of many women,” Voltaire states.

“Critics might say that pageantry and fashion are superficial. Certain [aspects] can be that way but what happens inside and how it manifests in empowering them is far more significant,” he adds.

Celebrating individuality is key

With the current progressive changes in the respective industries, change in the relationship between the two is also inevitable. The shift, Voltaire felt, originated from the women themselves who are joining the pageants. “When they started to celebrate their [individualities] instead of confirming to existing norms, the pageant mold cracked and gave way to fashion.”

Voltaire Tayag with beauty queen-1

“In 2002, Russia’s Oxana Fedorova wore a flowy, white gown with an obi detail by Gucci. It was unlike any other of the pageant gowns but was very in style. In 2007, Japan’s Riyo Mori wore a black Gucci gown that Oprah Winfrey also famously wore,” Voltaire points out, attributing the onset of the heightened presence of beauty queens in the fashion industry when the two bagged the Miss Universe title during their times. “[It] probably got many thinking that updated styling was essential,” he mentions. “It’s beautiful to see that the pageant world has become more in tune with the current fashion trends.”

The rise of beauty queens in the fashion industry

Still, a fair amount of work needs to be done. “I feel that the pageant organizers need to send a stronger message to stylists and glam teams to be current,” Voltaire advises. “Look at what’s happening on the runways, find that style that suits the delegate and stay away from stale pageant looks that have been recycled for years,” He also dares people to “be bold in your choices.”

As for the future that Voltaire envisions for the collaboration of fashion and beauty pageants? “[It] has always been my dream for the couture houses to feature Miss Universe in their runway shows. That would be so amazing,” he gushes. “I would also love to see more pageants promoting fashion in their shows. Having fashion brand sponsorships in various pageants would be good for both industries.”