This Was How Michelle Dee Owned Her Mother’s Legacy in Her Miss Universe Gown

This Was How Michelle Dee Owned Her Mother’s Legacy in Her Miss Universe Gown


Always forwarding intention in her Miss Universe journey, Michelle Dee slithers her way into the preliminaries in a gown inspired by her lucky charm and inspiration—her mother, Melanie Marquez

By now, purpose has become second skin to Michelle Marquez Dee. Even in the preliminaries for the 72nd Miss Universe, she sheds her layers and bares her best for the crown with intention—from her refined “air walk” to her evening gown.

RELATED: Michelle Dee’s Miss Universe Stylist Puts Philippine Pride on Display

Michelle Dee preliminaries gown 72nd Miss Universe 2023
Michelle Dee owns her identity as the living legacy of her mother, Melanie Marquez

Luck in the look

In an exclusive interview with Filipino designer Mark Bumgarner, he revealed, “The emerald green color was inspired by Melanie Marquez, Michelle’s mom, when she won Miss International in 1979.” During her crowning moment, the older Marquez also wore a green beaded tube piece. 

Michelle Dee preliminaries gown 72nd Miss Universe 2023
Michelle and Mark patterned her preliminaries gown from Melanie’s winning look from Miss International 1979

Delving more into the intricacies of the design, Mark added, “The evening gown is fully encrusted with three shades of emerald green Swarovski crystals and contrasted black [ones] to give it a different dimension under the light. Overall, the dress is covered with thousands of crystals.” 

Power in form

Further integrating Melanie’s legacy of movement that forms into the letter S, Michelle decided to take it further by owning the snake symbol. “I wanted it to look like the skin of a green viper,” the designer pointed out. “It is a symbol of power, transformation, and wisdom.” 

In May of this year, Michelle donned a black creation from Bumgarner that surprised fans and the audience alike with its S-shaped beading. From incorporating the symbolism, the queen now becomes the snake herself. 

Michelle Dee preliminaries gown 72nd Miss Universe 2023
Swarovski crystals elevate the dimension of Michelle’s look, capturing her walk’s essence

Meanwhile, stylist Ryuji Shiomitsu also shared his thoughts during their deliberation process for the looks. “This was the gown that highlighted the essence of MMD,” he affirmed.

Keeping inclusivity in the picture, Michelle and her team also considered a design that was not only for her as it is also a piece that women will feel empowered in when they resonate with the intentionality of the gown’s cinched waist, column silhouette, high neckline, emphasized shoulders, and strategic cuts. 

Michelle Dee preliminaries gown 72nd Miss Universe 2023
As she makes a statement in her preliminaries, she becomes the snake that symbolizes strength, power, and change

More than its aesthetic value, the gown is an armor that keeps our Miss Universe Philippines aligned with her vision of winning the crown for the country and for instilling change through her advocacies. Through the frock’s prominent structure, we are reminded of the strength and discipline that queens need in order to lead. But what truly resonates for Michelle are the cutouts that best capture her in her truest form—baring her real self to the universe with a vision that is always unpredictable, but always puts her purpose forward.

Photos: MARK BUMGARNER and MICHELLE DEE (via Instagram)

Order your print copy of this month's MEGA Magazine:
Download this month's MEGA digital copy from:
Subscribe via [email protected]