Home » Miss Universe 2023: Flames, a plane and a train in national costume show

Miss Universe 2023: Flames, a plane and a train in national costume show

Australian Moraya Wilson placed third in the Miss Universe competition over the weekend after her floral national costume put the nation’s flowers on the world’s stage. 

Nicaragua’s Sheynnis Palacios took out the top spot, being crowned Miss Universe 2023. 

Coming in second place was Anntonia Porsild representing Thailand. 

This year’s competition was held in El Salvador, with a televised broadcast of the finale featuring singer John Legend. 

Miss Thailand Anntonia Porsild, left, came second, while Miss Nicaragua Sheynnis Palacios won the crown. (AP: Moises Castillo)

Push to become more inclusive

Beauty pageants can be divisive.

Over the decades, many have argued the concept demeans women and promotes unrealistic beauty standards, with questions over whether they have a place in modern society. 

Fans, however, would argue the competition creates opportunities and can be empowering. 

Starting in the 1950s, the Miss Universe competition has had to evolve to keep up with the times.

The pageant changed its rules allowing transgender contests in 2013, with the first transgender woman competing in 2018.

JKN Global Group Public Co. Ltd, which is headed by Thai business tycoon and transgender activist Chakrapong “Anne” Chakrajutathib, bought the Miss Universe Organization last year. 

Ms Chakrajutathib said she wanted to use the beauty pageant to inspire women like her.

On its website, the company says the competition “exists to advocate for a future forged by women”.

This year saw two transgender contestants, Marina Machete from Portugal and Rikkie Valerie Kollé from the Netherlands compete. 

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Body positivity activist Jane Garret competed for Nepal this year. 

“I’m so proud to be representing real size beauty around the world and breaking the stereotypes of beauty pageants,” she said on Instagram.

“That was life changing!”

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What was Australia’s national costume?

Perhaps the most talked about aspect of the contest is the National Costume Show — that’s despite the fact it was held a few days before the finale.

That’s when contestants showcase an outfit that represents their home countries in a theatrical, colourful display of fashion (more on that further down). 

Wilson wore a dress by designer Emma Daley, embellished with feathers and sequins.

“Drawing on one of Australia’s most prized assets, this dress is a celebration of our incredible and unique native wildflowers,” Daley said.

“This collection of flowers represent each state and territory and the magical connections to the Australian land, telling stories of cultural, historical and spiritual significance.”

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Here’s a quick wrap of some of the other national costumes and a few of the themes we noticed. 


Yullia Pavlikova wearing a mini dress with a golden feathered skirt and glittery golden wings

Miss Bulgaria Yullia Pavlikova as the golden owl which, as a bit of trivia for you, is the country’s largest nocturnal bird of prey. (Reuters: Jose Cabezas)

Faith Gillezeau wearing a bright red feathered ibis costume, complete with a glittery beak

Miss Trinidad and Tobago, Faith Gillezeau, honoured the iconic scarlet ibis with her costume — they’re just like the ibises we have in Australia, but they’re bright red because of their crustacean-heavy diet. (Reuters: Jose Cabezas)

Maria Brechane wearing a blue leotard with three big blue macaw heads on her head and shoulders

With three endangered blue macaws on her shoulders, Miss Brazil Maria Brechane’s costume aims to promote conservation. (Reuters: Jose Cabezas)

 Endi Demneri wearing a dark bodice with grand golden wings and a gold bird head dress

I’m no aeronautical engineer, but I’m pretty sure Miss Albania Endi Demneri could actually fly in this golden eagle costume.(Reuters: Jose Cabezas)

Modes of transport 

Delary Stoffers wearing a sparkly train conductor costumer with an engine and train track attached to her back

Miss Ecuador Delary Stoffers tips her train conductor hat to the Ecuadorian Railway, which was completed in 1908 (the railway, not the costume).(Reuters: Jose Cabezas)

Michelle Dee wearing a splarkly gold captains hat and a costume that has the wings of a plane

Michelle Dee’s costume is a salute to her role as an Air Force reservist as well as a “come fly with me!” call to encourage tourists to visit her home country.(Reuters: Jose Cabezas)


Lisa Andrea Narine wearing a large, winglike apparatuse decorated with greenery, flowers, turtles and reptiles

Miss Guyana Lisa Andrea Narine’s costume, which is a nod to her country’s rainforests, featured lilies, a sparkly toucan and an absolutely essential amount of glitter.(Reuters: Jose Cabezas)

Rikkie Kolle wearing a tick green glittery dress with orange tulip petals extending from her hips

Miss Netherlands Rikkie Kolle should absolutely re-wear this tulip costume if she ever auditions for a role as one of the singing flowers in Alice in Wonderland. (Reuters: Jose Cabezas)

Holding on

Mitchel Ihezue wearing a gold ornate bodysuit with a dark shimmery cape, gold headpiece and holding a staff

Miss Nigeria Mitchel Ihezue pays homage to Queen Idia and Amina, Queen of Zazzau, but the staff in particular represents Queen Moremi.(Reuters: Jose Cabezas)

Lorena Santen wearing a glittery knight's helmet, a yellow-and-blue leotard and holding a glittery axe

Miss Switzerland Lorena Santen’s nod to the Swiss guard comes with the ultimate accessory — a bedazzled halberd. 

Lisbeth Valverde wearing a blue leotard with a marine-like headress, a blue train and holding an ornate blue staff

Miss Costa Rica Lisbeth Valverde’s trident is an ode to coral reefs — and fabulousness. (Reuters: Jose Cabezas)

Headwear with flair 

Noelia Voigt wearing a head dress with the State of Liberty on it, along with the Empire State building and flags

Noelia Voigt looking how a US tourism promoter might look if they were in the enchanted castle in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast when all the people were transformed into magical objects — that’s an American souvenir stand that needs a musical number. (Reuters: Jose Cabezas)

Isabella Garcia-Manzo wearing a headdress that looks like the sun and a long dark red gown, all illuminated

Miss El Salvador Isabella Garcia-Manzo’s costume, which has a long train, working lights and a pop-out eruption of glittery flames, symbolising the rebirth of her country.(Reuters: Jose Cabezas)

Sending a message

Angelina Usanova wearing a bodysuit with blue ruffles, holding a golden baby doll

Miss Ukraine Angelina Usanova holds a gold baby, paying tribute to motherhood and the “defencelssness of children in the face of war”. (Reuters: Jose Cabezas)

Jane Garrett wearing a headdress that looks like smoke and missiles, holding a fake dove in a cage

Miss Nepal Jane Garrett’s costume made a statement about how conflict “often leads us to confine the peaceful dove to a cage” — but she freed the (fake) dove, throwing it to the audience.(Reuters: Jose Cabezas)