Miss Universe 2021: Maristella Okpala Won The Best National Costume Award

Miss Universe 2021 took place on Sunday as Maristella Okpala of Nigeria went home with the Best National Costume award with a design by Filipino fashion student Kenny Gasper.

The preliminary competition for Miss Universe 2021 started on December 10, with 80 beauty queens vying for the prestigious Mouawad Power of Unity crown and the title of Miss Universe.

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.”

Her caption said:

This beautiful creation is inspired by a famous traditional masquerade of the southeastern tribe of Nigeria called “Mmanwa”. It is made of African Beed’s, stones, crafts.

Mmanwa is a female masquerade costume that’s designed for ceremonial and festive purposes to celebrate the rich Nigerian cultural heritage paying closer attention to the strength women possess. The 3ft tribal mask with the colourful ancient back cape With Mmanwa’s Face boldly crested on the mask and

It represents the beautiful Mmanwa who fought tirelessly to stop girl child mutilation and child slavery while the colourful patterns and embellishments portray the African dashiki which offers a visual appeal and forms meant to invoke the ancestral spirits.

I picked this particular costume because I see a self-reflection of my cause in this Mmanwa 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.


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Okpala’s costume marks the first time a Nigerian queen has won ‘Best National Costume Award’ and it is 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.

Harnaaz Sandhu of India was the big winner as she was crowned Miss Universe 2021.

Congratulations to Maristella Okpala, we are proud of you.


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