Ms Nigeria - Mfonobong Essien won the crown as Ms Africa 2007/08!!! She also carted away other prizes!!!
Woh!! As a sponsor and official designer for the show, I had to be neutral! For their Intro wear, I tried to keep hers as simple as possible. Infact, I believe I made it really simple....but asked her to rock it! Its not about the dress anyway. After all, she is my home girl keh! I made her a one-sleeved short dress....no frilly laces or cleavage poppers or fancy things like I did for some of the delegates. So, I was neutral.
I didn't make her traditional wear, so, I reckoned she had something up her sleeve. We are on both on Facebook, and I wondered why she never contacted me to make her traditional outfit though. But.............when for the talent scene, the babe popped out the full regalia of the Calabar Maiden dancers!!! I smiled secretly and it dawned on me! She was going all CULTURAL COUTURE!!
She had the WHOLE COMPLETE THING!! From the arm and wrist bands to the dangling bells made of wood to the straws to even the white traditional dotted chalks on the cheeks, forehead and chin!! SHE WAS COMPLETE!!
And then, she started dancing!! NO AWILO dance!! The TRUE AND REAL Calabar dance steps!!!! The crowd went gaga!!!!
Ok, now for the Evening wear (that doubled as the traditional wear as well.....) Ms Nigeria came out in the COMPLETE, and I mean TOTALLY COMPLETE Calabar maiden Coming of Age regalia!!!! With the heavy matted head cover, ladden with the real gold combs!!! She told me her mum just returned from naija! yeah yeah yeah, the crowd halared at the designs I made, but when you see culture, abeg, you got to bow!!! Enuff talk, just see some of the pictures here, I will upload up and personal ones later!!!
Mfon made Nigerians proud that day!! And people traveled from far to come support her! The crowd was divided between Sierra Leone and Nigeria........
I had fun! I am patriotically proud my Naija girl won and also proud that one of the three girls I personally designed an exquisite george red carpet ensemble came second- Ms Sierra Leone! And Karen Koukou (Ms Liberia) that I designed for also made the final 5.
FIRST RUNNER UP:
Ms Sierra Leone - Elizabeth MBalu Conteh. She carted away so many other prizes: Miss Natural Beauty, Miss Voters Choice, 1st Runner Up in the Miss Africa USA Pageant. And she just turned 20 the day before the pageant!She is pretty, well spoken, and lovable. I already knew her family cos I designed a home-coming outfit for her cousin....and that family is blessed. She and her mother actually flew from Atlanta to Maryland to measure her and also sketch a design for her. Her mother wanted me to see her and feel what to design for her. And when I was done, they flew back to MD to pick it up.
Just like Ms Nigeria's mum, Ms Sierra Leone's mum went all out as well! Need I tell you how the mums were looking when their two girls were the last ones standing? !! I wish I was not actively involved, I would have loved to pick a camcorder and record reactions! ha ha ha....
Mbalu looked regal like a queen in the red dress I made her with sequined george fabric.
IN THE FINAL FIVE
It sure must have been a very difficult task for the judges! I am glad I was not one of them. because I would have been torn between so many things there. Like the fact that I designed personally for 3 of the delegates. And I also made the introductory wears for all the delegates, and two of the delegates are like my little sisters (Ms Sierra Leone and Ms Liberia). I am glad I was no judge!!!
Karen Koukou (Ms Liberia) also donned on one of my African couture designs. Made of Ghana fabric (I forget what it is called). It sure was a challenging task, but one I loved. You all know I love challenges. lol. Ms Liberia looked regal in my design as well...here are pictures below....
Tired and sleepless, I had fun!!! It was an amazing pageant! And worth every time, resource and energy put in it! It was challenging in a way, because I found myself redoing most of the introductory outfits there in the dressing room! I had sewn stuff that I flew in with, but when I saw some of the girls face-to-face, I just knew I had to change their designs into more sensual, more feminine and more graceful wears that would match the beauty, the friendliness, the happy, and united front they all had. For a second, one could forget that it was actually a contest! The girls had formed friendships! They were happy!! They were helping one other out!
On the right is me backstage doing ma thang. And Yes! My hair is blonde! lol.
One delegate that had left her shoes in another's duffel bag, and who forgot it at the hotel had others bringing out gold shoes to match her outfit! I was touched!
And as a fashion designer, a great highlight for me was meeting Super Model Noella in person! She is pretty!!!! Even without her make-up on! And she is nice, friendly and very and totally down-to-earth!! You would think she was one of the contestants! No airs about her! And I love her french accent the most! Keep it up Noella! I look forward to working with you soon!
On the right is Estella, Carmen and Lady Kate (CEO/Founder of Ms Africa USA Pageant)
I have never seen a beauty pageant like this! IT IS THE BEST AFRICAN BEAUTY PAGEANT IN THE USA to me!! Organized and well coordinated! And I am proud to be part of Lady Kate's events! She spared nothing to give people the best show!
And Ms Africa USA 07/08 has now set a new precedence for other African beauty pageants!!! The outcome of this pageant will now make people stick close to their cultures when they are competing in any African-related beauty pageant!
It would make people showcase talents that are purely African! Why sing like Beyonce at a Ms Africa pageant?! When Africans are known for dancing and shaking what their mama gave them? Come on! Let's be realistic!
I had advised all the delegates to stick close to their national costume, but U know all Africa now like to dress like Nigerians! But the irony is that the Nigerian delegate refused to wear the popular Nigerian fashionable wears, and she told me her mum reckoned that as well, being why they decided to do something different. Our Nigerian girl went really local into her village and dug out a no-longer-popular attire! But one that would still melt a king's heart (or judges at any show). THE CALABAR MAIDEN COUTURE!!!
I am looking forward to Ms Africa USA 2008!
Congratulations Ms Africa USA 2008!
Congratulations Lady Kate for a show well done!
And congratulations to all the delegates!!! You all were amazing!!
I am so proud of you all! You all have things going on in your lives academically! You are all focused and with drive and career-oriented!
You are all winners in your own rights, but only one winner was needed that night! I am confident that you all will make Africa proud someday soon!
Please DONT give up on all the platforms you already have. With or without a crown, you can still make a difference in our society and our continent.
Their website is http://missafricaunitedstates.com/index.php for more detail of event.