Dignified Elegance: Rabiya Mateo’s Final Walk as Miss Universe 2020
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A Queen in Dignified Elegance: Rabiya Mateo’s Final Walk as Miss Universe 2020

A Queen in Dignified Elegance: Rabiya Mateo’s Final Walk as Miss Universe 2020

Fashion | October 1, 2021
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Francis Libiran walks us through his creative process in designing Miss Universe 2020 Rabiya Mateo’s dress for her final walk.

For the last time, our very own Miss Universe Philippines 2020 Rabiya Mateo takes her final walk to crown the next queen who will represent us in Miss Universe 2021. Of course, Rabiya will be wearing one of my designs yet again, and it is truly such an honor.

A Dress Fit for a Queen

It all started when Rabiya’s stylist, Rain Degala, asked me to design her dress for her final walk. We’ve dressed Rabiya before, but we have not directly met yet. But this was the first time that I saw her in person, so I was really excited about it.

A rush of inspiration instantly came to me. I even contemplated between a couple of colors—do I create a blue gown or a red one? What style should I incorporate in the gown? Do I have to put in fancy details so I can make her stand out?

Then, it hit me. Standing out isn’t always about shining or being loud about details. Sometimes, even in dignified simplicity, you can be noticed by hundreds of people. It’s what I always tell my clients: being able to shine relies on how you carry yourself.

By the time Rabiya visited me for the first time in my atelier at The Peninsula Manila, I instantly felt her queenly demeanor. She was calm and collected—humble, even—but at the same time, she radiated so much inspiration. Though she did not bring home the Miss Universe crown, she has been persistent with her goals, and in following her dreams and advocacies.

Right then and there, I instantly knew what to create for her.

Of Purity and Innocence

Physically speaking, I wanted something that would compliment her figure. I thought of a tight-fitted style—something that would make her look broad and confident. The whole look and style had to give her a striking persona.

From there, I made two versions of the gown. But after much thought and several revisions, my team and I decided to add a soft, flowy cape to the gown to make her final walk regal and grand. I even used my signature art deco patterns on the intricate embroidery beadwork for the bodice of the gown.

Prior to meeting Rabiya in person, I mentioned to Rain that I was thinking of choosing very bold colors for her. Something with blue, red, or yellow crossed my mind. However, it did not match the vision I had—one meant for a queen.

While looking at Rabiya’s photos, I automatically envisioned her wearing white. It was perfect. Brimming with so much inspiration, I sketched her gown—excited to see her wearing it at the grand event itself.

You might be thinking that white is too simple. This is a beauty pageant, after all, where eccentric and sometimes outrageous gowns are expected to be seen. But there is something about the color white that I thought would make it so appealing for Rabiya.

White, after all, signifies purity and innocence. I knew that her character is indeed pure, much like the color. What’s more, she handles herself with so much wisdom, too.

Her reign in the Miss Universe pageant may be over, but her final walk means walking towards a bright new future—a journey leading to limitless possibilities. And like the white gown she proudly wore, it signifies a new reign and a new beginning.

Redefining Beauty

Rabiya Mateo’s final walk symbolizes her readiness to embrace this new world. She has become an inspiration to so many people. And without a doubt, her chosen path will lead to success, as she is ready to change the world in her own way.

I am proud and happy to have met such a wonderful person. Working with Rabiya Mateo has further inspired me to redefine the word beauty—that is, to make a difference in this world of uncertainty through magnificent, wearable art.

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Francis is a Filipino architect and fashion designer. His love for travel, nature, architecture, and patterns is very apparent in his creations. Being in the business for more than two decades, Francis is considered as one of the Philippine’s premier fashion designers and his brand is dedicated to producing original, high quality, wearable art pieces which promote Filipino beauty, artistry, talent, and craftsmanship on the global arena. Francis Libiran’s international success, awe-inspiring designs and creations, and keen eye for detail opened the doors of opportunities to dress some of the biggest stars the world over.
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