Maristella Okpala, Miss Universe Nigeria, was awarded the Best National Costume at Miss Universe 2021. The 20-year-old Filipino student designer Kennedy Jhon Gasper is behind this costume. Last year Kennedy Jhon made the costume for miss Cameroon. It was only his second time designing a costume for Miss Universe. Despite that, he has created costumes for Miss Grand International Haiti 2021, Miss Utah Teen USA 2021, and Miss Supranational Kenya 2021. Recently, he also won the Best in State costume for Miss Utah Teen USA 2021.
The traditional masquerade of the southeastern tribe of Nigeria called ‘Mmanwa’ inspired the costume. Moreover, the costume is made of African beads, stones, crafts. Additionally, the three feet tribal mask with the colorful ancient back cape featuring Mmanwa’s face ties everything perfectly.
What’s more, Miss Universe Nigeria explained that it represents how the beautiful figure fought tirelessly to stop child mutilation and slavery. On the other hand, the patterns and embellishments portray the African dashiki which is meant to invoke the ancestral spirits.
Furthermore, she believes that the attire reflects her advocacy to protect children and women against abuse. Other than representing the rich cultural heritage, it also pays homage to the strong will of women.
The winners are not judged, but there were still many beautiful national costumes at the Miss Universe 2021 contest.