Miss Universe contestant Iris Mittenaere (centre R) of France is crowned the new 2017 winner by former Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach of the Philippines (centre L) during the Miss Universe pageant at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila on January 30, 2017. France was crowed Miss Universe on January 30 in a glitzy spectacle free of last year's dramatic mix-up but with a dash of political controversy as finalists touched on migration and other hot-button global issues. / AFP / TED ALJIBE Image Credit: AFP

The city of Dubai was front and centre at the final of the Miss Universe pageant in Manila, thanks to Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach. The beauty queen wore a sapphire ball gown for her final walk, designed by UAE-based Filipino designer Michael Cinco.

Definitely one of the highlights of the much-publicised event, Wurtzbach’s final walk, before she crowned Miss France Iris Mittenaere as her successor, was special in many ways, says Cinco, who set up his eponymous label in 2003 in Dubai.

“She didn’t really get a chance to enjoy her walk when she was crowned in 2015 due to the pandemonium,” Cinco tells Gulf News tabloid!.

Wurtzbach’s infamous coronation, when host Steve Harvey wrongly announced Miss Colombia, Ariadna Gutierrez, as the winner, will probably go down as one of the most scandalous coronation nights in Miss Universe history.

Wurtzback alluded to the incident on stage on Sunday night.

“Steve, I never got to thank you but thank you for making me the most popular Miss Universe,” she told the American presenter at the opening of the show.

The finale dress, fully made of beadwork and crystals, was kept tightly under wraps until Wurtzbach’s final walk.

“When she wrote to me, detailing to me the dress she wanted, Pia said it should bear similarities to the gown she was wearing during the 2015 pageant,” says Cinco. “She wanted me to create something that will encapsulate her first and final walk as Miss Universe.”

Wurtzbach met Cinco in Dubai for fittings in November during her visit to the city. She also wore other designs by the designer during the monthlong pageant.

At the preliminary rounds at the Mall of Asia Arena on Thursday, she wore a white fitted gown inspired by the Filipino terno, or butterfly sleeves, and the barong, the formal shirt worn by men. The dress featured intricate beadwork, made by minute bugle beads.

Later, the beauty queen changed to a black fully velvet sequinned gown, finished off with intricate butterfly wings threadworks from Cinco’s collection for online fashion store Couturissimo.

Cinco established his Michael Cinco Couture 19 years ago, catering mostly to wealthy Arabs. He has since made his mark internationally, with his clothes being worn by Hollywood celebrities including Beyonce, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears. He’s also featured as guest designer in the long-running reality show America’s Next Top Model, hosted by Tyra Banks.

The designer was honoured with the Philippine Presidential Award in 2014, one of the country’s highest civilian awards, for his contribution to the arts.