Fashion forward thinker: Catriona Gray’s ripple effect

Voltaire E. Tayag
Catriona's use of Filipino outfits from local textiles has opened many opportunities for designers

THE RIPPLE EFFECT. Catriona Gray's champion for Filipino designs and textiles has paved way for more designers to use local fabrics. Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

The victory of Miss Universe 2018, Catriona Gray, is made even sweeter by its ripple effect on the Philippine fashion industry. It all began with Catriona’s vision, which took months of meticulous curating.

During the Raise Your Flag Homecoming tribute, Catriona narrated how she prepared a PowerPoint presentation to guide her team and collaborators. She’s definitely elevated what it means to be a Binibining Pilipinas competing for Miss Universe. She embodied the empowered Filipina with a thoughtful consideration of her culture, heritage and those around her. (READ: Catriona Gray at Miss Universe 2018: Ambassador for PH culture, design)

She brought new meaning to “OOTDs” during her Miss Universe competition. Everyday, she came out in beautiful creations made by Filipino designers — from the Anthony Ramirez emerald green top with high waist pants she wore for her departure and arrival look to the sampaguita inspired Mak Tumang ensemble she wore during her homecoming parade. (IN PHOTOS: PH culture, textiles takes spotlight in Catriona Gray’s Miss Universe outfits)

Catriona wore a stunning Inaul inspired outfit by Jearson Demavivas, who was also her national costume designer. It featured an ethnic trousers that fit her like a glove and an asymmetric, fuschia top with a dramatic side draping detail. (IN PHOTOS: All of Catriona Gray’s stunning looks during the ‘Raise Your Flag’ special)

OPENING OUTFIT. Catriona in Jearson Demavivas. Photo by Jory Rivera


Jojo Bragais has been the official shoe sponsor of Bb. Pilipinas for the past several years and his involvement with Team Catriona and his custom made shoes for Catriona have cemented him as the go to pageant shoe designer.

Comfort is key for Bragais Shoes. Catriona has also wore Bragais Lipstick for her coronation look. She was also spotted carrying a Bragais leather backpack during her travels as Miss Universe.

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Maybe the most well-known of Catriona’s collaborators is Mak Tumang. He was already a well-established designer before Catriona. But because of the now famous lava-inspired “Mayon” gown worn during the evening gown competition, Mak is now a household name.

RED AS LAVA. Catriona in her famous 'Mayon' dress by Mak Tumang. Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler


Catriona wore Mak Tumang’s Perla Oriente gown for the finale. This gold and turquoise gown was the third option for her Miss Universe evening gown competition. It was a treat for pageant fans to see the alternate gown. She looked like a goddess with the drape detailing.


PERLA ORIENTE. Catriona is Mak Tumang's 'Perla Oriente'. Photo by Jory Rivera


During the homecoming festivities, there were hundreds of people wearing the “Three Stars and a Sun” by Tessera Jewelry. However, I think there were alot of knock-offs that could be purchased in Divisoria and malls. Of course, nothing beats having the original pieces from Tessera Jewelry which are available in limited supply.

FAMOUS ACCESSORY. Catriona's Three Stars and the Sun earcuff has been replicated by many. Screenshot from Instagram/@tesserajewelry


Filipiniana looks used to be relegated to ninang duties or Linggo ng Wika festivities. Young Filipino designers are reinterpreting the use of Filipino textiles, embellishments and techniques into wearable, modern and fresh looks. They’ve succeeded in integrating Filipiniana in chic outfits that are desired by a wider audience. They’ve made it cool to be wearing Filipiniana.

During this golden age of Philippine pageantry, the beauty queen and fashion designer tandem has been of great importance as they showcase the best of the Philippines.

  • 2015 – Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach and Albert Andrada
  • 2016 – Maxine Medina and Rhett Eala
  • 2017 – Rachel Peters and Val Taguba

One of the highlights of the Raise your Flag Homecoming tribute was the fashion show that featured the Binibinis that brought pride and joy to the country, with special participation of Maymay Entrata.

Seeing the past Miss Universe Philippines winners on one stage was a reminder of how far we’ve come in the world of pageantry and how many smiles its brought to millions. It was a beautiful timeline of the Philippines’ success in Miss Universe beginning with Venus Raj, Shamcey Supsup, Ara Arida, MJ Lastimosa, Pia Wurtzbach, Maxine Medina, Rachel Peters and Catriona Gray.

Maymay Entrata opened the segment in a lava-inspired knee length, full skirt bustier by Mak Tumang

SPOTLIGHT. Maymay Entrata in Mak Tumang. Photo by Jory Rivera

Bb. Pilipinas 2018 2nd Runner-up Samantha Bernardo wore a black, assymetric, butterly sleeve with cape Filipiniana by Chris Nick delos Reyes.

DIFFERENT TAKE. Samantha Bernardo in Chris Nick delos Reyes. Photo by Jory Rivera


Bb. Pilipinas 2018 1st Runner-up Vickie Rushton wore a Nino Franco creation called “Manata” which is inspired by the Bagobo Tagabawa Tribe. 


MANATA. Vickie Rushton in Nino Franco. Photo by Jory Rivera


Bb. Pilipinas Globe 2018, Michele Gumabao, wore a design by Jor-El Espina made with Kalinga fabric.


GLOBE FASHION. Michel Gumabao. Photo by Jory Rivera


Bb. Pilipinas Supranational 2018, Jehza Huelar wore a statement piece Jaggy Glarino consisting of a heavily embroidered/sequined top and a full red skirt.


EDGY. Jehza Huelar. Photo by Jory Rivera


Bb. Pilipinas 2016 First Runner-up Angelica Alita wore a red weave gown with a satin peplum by Benjie Panizales.

CLASSIC. Angelica Alita. Photo by Jory Rivera


Miss Universe 2010 4th Runner-up, Venus Raj looked gorgeous in her red bouquet inspired gown with a touch of t’nalak by Jearson Demavivas.

GAME CHANGER. Veus Raj. Photo by Jory Rivera


Miss Universe 2011 3rd Runner-up Shamcey Supsup was in a red modern suit dress by Vin Orias.

SLEEK. Shamcey Supsup. Photo by Jory Rivera

Miss Universe 2013 3rd Runner-up, Ariella Arida was in a red bustier jumpsuit with a sheer cape by Erwin Flores.

EXOTIC. Ariella Arida. Photo by Jory Rivera


Miss Universe 2014 Semifinalist, MJ Lastimosa dazzled in a sheer, shining, shimmering creation by Rex Nicdao.

MJ ALL THE WAY. Mary Jean Lastimosa. Photo by Jory Rivera


Miss Universe 2016 Top 6 Finalist, Maxine Medina wore a red silk halter gown with swarovski crystal coral embellishments by Noel Crisostomo.

ORIENTAL. Maxine Medina. Photo by Jory Rivera


Miss Universe 2017 Semifinalist Rachel Peters wore Louis Pangilinan gown with a high center slit, plunging neckline, and stiffened peplums.

THE GAZE. Rachel Peters. Photo by Jory Rivera


Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach dazzled the crowd in her ultra chic and sophisticated Anthony Ramirez gown featuring a voluminous off white silk top and a very, very fitted mermaid skirt.


QUEEN PIA. Pia Wurtzbach. Photo by Jory Rivera

Catriona closed this segment wearing her now iconic lava-inspired evening gown by Mak Tumang.

For those who did not witness her compete in Bangkok, to see the gown in person as it sparkled unlike any other gown was a treat.

Photo by Jory Rivera

Photo by Jory Rivera


The universe has conspired to bring Filipino artistry to the world. With the support of the Bb. Pilipinas Charities Inc., headed by Mrs. Stella Araneta, Filipino designers have once again been afforded the opportunity to showcase their talents.



THANK YOU. Catriona present a bouquet of flowers to BPCI chairperson Stella Araneta. Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

Many anti-pageant sentiments criticize pageants for not being relevant. The charities and advocacies are the obvious reasons that give meaning and relevance. But what many fail to see is that the successes of our queens like Pia Wurtzbach and Catriona Gray is that they set into motion a trickle-down effect – recognition of the world-class talents in hairstyling, make-up, pageant training, and fashion design brings in international attention. These help generate employment for many Filipinos that in turn allow them to provide for their households.

When the dream of one young woman is realized, it’s not just her that reaps the benefits but also an entire community. There is nothing more relevant in uplifting the image and livelihood of the Filipino and boosting the morale of an entire nation.  For that, we should always be thankful that we recognize the value that pageants bring to the world. –

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Voltaire has 10 years experience in the fashion industry. He previously worked with a luxury clothing and accessories brand in Los Angeles, CA. He graduated magna cum laude from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, major in Fashion Design. He also holds a BS in Applied Economics and BS in Marketing from DLSU. He is now doing real estate but finds ample spare time to pursue his passions.