EXCLUSIVE: Filipinos behind design-production of Miss U ‘19 swimwear

EXCLUSIVE: Filipinos behind design-production of Miss U ‘19 swimwear

/ 12:04 PM December 06, 2019

Hydee Ursolino (from left), G Sonsie owners Vico Yam and Carmela Sira holding one of the featured swimwear designs for this year’s Miss U pageant. INQUIRER/Elton Lugay

ATLANTA – Pia Wurtzbach and Catriona Gray’s successive Miss Universe triumphs opened the door not only to the possibility of the Philippines becoming a powerhouse nation in the pageant, but also to a historic first. This year’s competition swimwear was designed and produced by a Filipino team from a Los Angeles-based fashion company co-owned by a Filipina.

“It’s not only exciting but this was a very humbling experience for us,” Carmela Sira, the Filipina chief operating officer of G. Sonsie, told INQUIRER.net in the sidelines of yesterday’s press conference.


“We’re grateful, we’re honored to be part of this event because there’s a lot of much bigger companies that want to be part of this event and we’re so lucky Hydee reached out to us.”

Hydee Ursolino was the person who got everybody together after Jonas Gaffud, talent manager and co-founder of Aces and Queens – the beauty camp behind the 2015 win of Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach — reached out to her last month.

Recently appointed as the creative and events director of Miss Universe Philippines, Gaffud asked Ursolino to help look for a swimwear sponsor. She managed to book skincare specialist Olivia Quido to sponsor the production of 300 pieces of swimwear, covering both the preliminary and final competitions.

Miss USA Cheslie Kryst poses with G. Sonsie high fashion swimwear.  HYDEE URSOLINO

“After November 6th, the Miss Universe Organization (MUO) reached out to us, and David Profeta, the head of Miss U wardrobe, asked us to basically put together some sketches. We presented the ideas to them, the colors, the prints. We have a design team who put together the styling. The most important thing, according to David, is that it has to be fully lined, with more coverage from the body, to be more prestigious and elegant. And that’s what we’re good at,” Sira recalled.

Vico Yam, the founder of G. Sonsie and Sira’s business partner for 25 years since their university days, literally lived in China for 10 days to watch over the production. They had 20 days to deliver all 300 pieces of swimwear according to the size specifications and for some, customized to suit religious preferences. Profeta was impressed by the swimwear quality. He knew he came to the right place as soon as he touched the merchandise samples, Sira said.

Miss Philippines Gazini Ganados is among the crowd favorites and darlings of the press. She arrived in a Carey Santiago ensemble during yesterday’s press junket, the only candidate with a press escort.  INQUIRER/Elton Lugay

“We made prints because we want to be in trend for 2020. For the prelims, we’re using all prints in two-piece [wear]. We have a combination of florals, animal skin; we have tie-dye and more skin because it’s going to be a big thing in 2020,” she told INQUIRER.net.


Press coverage for the Miss Universe 2019 competition began yesterday with the unveiling of the Miss Universe Power of Unity Crown. Crafted by Mouawad, the newly minted crown is worth about US$5 million, featuring 1,770 white diamonds and three golden canary diamonds set in 18-karat gold.

“These hundreds of diamonds are set in intricate motifs of petals, leaves and vines, representing the communities of women from around the world whose bonds unite them and remind us we are stronger together than apart. The crown’s centerpiece, a shield-cut golden canary diamond weighing a magnificent 62.83 carat, and its harmony with the diamonds surrounding it, symbolizes the golden age of women, where they are celebrated for being strong, complex, diverse and unapologetically ambitious,” MUO said in its press release.

Outgoing Miss Universe Catriona Gray holding the new $5M crown for this year’s winner with Miss U president Paula Shugart and jewelry designer Fred Mouawad during the unveiling ceremony at Marriott Hotel in Atlanta. INQUIRER/Elton Lugay

MUO president Paula Shugart and Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray presented the Power of Unity crown, along with the Mouawad brothers at yesterday’s press event.


In an interview following the press conference, Gaffud said the stakes were high for Miss Philippines Gazini Ganados, because a back-to-back win would establish the country as a powerhouse in the prestigious competition where four Filipinas have taken the crown since 1969.

Observers say Ganados is already a crowd favorite and one of the darlings of the press. Clad in a Carey Santiago ensemble, she was one of the late arrivals at yesterday’s press junket and notably the only candidate with a press escort among the 90 contenders for this year’s crown.

Unveiling of the new $5M Miss U crown by renowned jeweler Fred Mouawad with CEO Paula Shugart, Miss Universe Catriona Gray and this year’s 90 candidates from around the globe. INQUIRER/Elton Lugay

“What it means for me to win the crown is for all Filipinos out there wishing for a back-to-back [victory] and I don’t see why not,” Ganados told INQUIRER in an interview at the sidelines of the event.

The preliminary competition begins December 6 for this year’s Miss Universe hopefuls. Starting at 8 p.m. Eastern time, the preliminary competition will be followed by the National Costume Competition at 10pm Eastern. Both events will be hosted by Catriona Gray and Nick Teplitz, a fan favorite.

The Miss Universe 2019 competition will be aired live over FOX on December 8 at 7pm Eastern.

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TAGS: beauty pageants, fashion, Miss Universe ’19, Miss Universe swimwear, Miss Universe swimwear designers
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