Metro traffic nearly cost Pia her Miss U crown
LOS ANGELES—A week before the Miss Universe coronation night, fashion designer
Albert Andrada battled Metro Manila’s notorious traffic, made even worse by Typhoon “Nona” (international name: Melor).
“I sat in the car for five hours. It was so frustrating,” recalled Andrada, who was on his way to the airport to catch a plane to Las Vegas where Miss Philippines Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach was competing for the Miss Universe crown.
In his luggage were five delicately sewn gowns meant for Wurtzbach, who was going to pick the best one for the pageant’s final event on Dec. 20 (Dec. 21 in Manila).
Andrada’s original departure date was Dec. 18, but he thought it was prudent to leave earlier to allow for any alterations, if needed.
In the meantime, Wurtzbach’s team in Las Vegas found themselves in a bind just before the preliminary contest on Dec. 16.
One skyway away
The original gown reported to have been bought by the people behind Binibining Pilipinas Charities Inc. (BPCI) did not fit Wurtzbach well, and the team thought of using two of Andrada’s gowns meant for the finals.
But the traffic was unyielding, Andrada recounted.
“I wanted to jump out of the car and start running toward the airport. I was just one skyway away from my plane,” the designer added.
No thanks to the traffic jam, Andrada missed his flight which resulted in his—and his gowns’—delayed arrival in Las Vegas.
In a last-ditch effort to save Wurtzbach from wearing an ill-fitting gown that could have ruined her performance in the preliminaries, her team reached out to Los Angeles-based designer Oliver Tolentino.
Tolentino, who has dressed Hollywood stars, lost no time in stepping up to the plate. He immediately sent Wurtzbach nine gowns from his newly opened boutique in Beverly Hills.
And the rest was history.
Pearl of the Orient
Wurtzbach wowed the preliminary competition judges as she glided across the stage in an elegant red, sleeveless crepe de chine gown with Swarovski-encrusted bodice. Not surprisingly, the half-German beauty advanced to the Top 15 on coronation night.
For the finals, Andrada was ready with his five gowns, all with a Pearl of the Orient theme. Wurtzbach chose the stunning royal blue serpentina gown that, the designer said, “represents the serene, deep blue color of the Philippine seas.”
Andrada recalled the pride and excitement he felt as he watched the “confidently beautiful” Wurtzbach make it to the Top 5.
“She looked fantastic in the gown,” he said. “It was clear she was the winner.”
So when pageant host Steve Harvey mistakenly named Miss Colombia Ariadna Gutierrez Arevalo as Miss Universe, Andrada’s heart sank.
“What was running through my mind was, we all have to be a good sport. I should be happy (Wurtzbach) landed first runner-up,” Andrada said.
But when Harvey apologized for the mix-up and announced that Wurtzbach was the real winner, Andrada broke into tears of joy. “I felt so emotional,” he said. “We were all in tears. We were rejoicing.”
Andrada said he was proud to be part of history. It was the first time after so many years that a Binibining Pilipinas-Universe wore a gown designed by a Filipino.
It was, he hopes, the start of a new tradition.
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