EXCLUSIVE: Story Behind Catriona Gray’s Gown In Miss Universe Colombia

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We’ve all seen the beautiful gown on our social media timelines, but do you know the story behind it? In this exclusive, we talk to Leo Almodal as he shares how he made his vision into a reality.

While Catriona Gray has since passed Miss Universe crown, she’s still making quite the buzz across the world—and most recently was during her short trip to Latin America wherein she was one of the judges for Miss Universe Colombia. During the pageant on November 17, the host introduced Catriona as an “Australian by birth” who represented the Philippines. Not only that, but her family name was also misspelled to “Garay” on the screen graphics for her introduction.

But as the host’s introduction did not please fans—who said it was disrespectful to Catriona—the organization has already apologized and assured everyone that there was no malice involved and that it was apparently due to the language barrier.

Photo from Justine Aliman’s Instagram

While Catriona’s short stint of being a judge for the prestigious pageant wasn’t as smooth sailing, her fits at her recently concluded sojourn in Colombia were undoubtedly impeccable. One outfit after another, she constantly surprised everyone with her show-stopping looks—most especially the yellow gown she wore at the coronation night. So with this said, it’s just right for us to reach out to its designer Leo Almodal and get to know the story of this iconic piece.

Leo Almodal
Leo Almodal

Brighter Than The Sun

It’s a given fact that Catriona Gray always makes it a point to wear Filipino designers whenever she has engagements here and especially abroad. It’s her way of showcasing Filipino talent and craftsmanship in the international fashion scene. So, for the coronation night of Miss Universe Colombia, she wore a custom made gown by couturier Leo Almodal.

Famed for creating such breathtaking collections that are heavily embellished with intricate beadwork and crystals, the couturier has already garbed the likes of Asia’s songbird Regine Velasquez, actress Bea Padilla, and Miss International 2016 Kylie Versoza, to name a few.

That’s why it’s really no surprise to see that he also ended up dressing the most beautiful woman of 2018. Leo shares to MEGA, this opportunity was all because of Catriona’s main stylists: Justine Aliman and Patrick Henry Mergano. “We have been friends with her team even before her winning as Miss Universe, that is why communicating with us about this project is a breeze,” he adds.

Photo from Justine Aliman’s Instagram

When the stylist duo sent in their inspirations, Leo had this brilliant idea during their Zoom meeting at the onset of finalizing what gown the beauty queen would wear. “The sun is the concept of my upcoming collection for 2021, with colors ranging from yellow, amber, yellow topaz, tuscany, ochre, and gold. So, it’s about this warm and beautiful celestial body where I drew my inspirations from,” Leo details. So, looking at it closely, his upcoming collection already speaks volumes to who Catriona is—a celestial beauty in the universe.

Yellow Is The New Red

As Columbians are known for wearing intricate pageant gowns, Leo Almodal had to ensure that Catriona Gray won’t blend with the candidates. “Originally the base dress is in a vintage bikini cut that is fully crystallized and patterned to give an illusion of a snatched waistline; where the skirt is attached and accentuated with a huge bow to give that Hollywood Barbie vibe,” the couturier explains. “I think [it makes the entire look] sexier and gives emphasis to her long toned legs.”

Catriona Gray Miss Universe Colombia
Photo from Catriona’s Instagram

While he admits that after the initial fitting with the beauty queen that the slit was too high and some crystals were poking her thighs when she sits down, his further adjustments ended up becoming even more phenomenal. He transformed it into the “bootleg cut” that made it quirky and uniquely contemporary. He was able to ace this gown by not opting for the conventional serpentine cut with a slit where she is known for wearing; rather they came up with a unique and striking modern couture masterpiece.

Now, when Catriona won the crown in 2018, she was wearing a red gown embellished with crystals alluding to her signature lava walk. Since we often associate her with the hue of red, Leo together with Catriona’s team thought of using a very distinct color, too.

“Red is a ‘fire color’ and so is yellow; her element that she feels more confident and radiating. Since she already wore red when she won as Miss Universe [and] blue for her farewell walk, her team opted for a yellow gown to have continuity in completing the colors of the Philippine flag,” Leo expounds. More than that, it was also timely because he’s releasing his yellow collection very soon. So for the couturier, what better way than to tease everyone with Catriona Gray wearing one of his creations.