Miss World 1997

By Julio Rodríguez Matute. PAYPAL.ME/RODRIGUEZMATUTE2

EVENTS OF 1997.-

                Princess Diana of Wales (Lady Di) dies tragically in a car accident in Paris. The peace treaty between Russia and Chechnya is signed while in Lima, Peru, the army rescues the hostages from the Japanese embassy after 4 months of kidnapping and kills the MRTA guerrillas. Tony Blair is elected Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Madeleine Albright becomes the first woman to hold the position of US Secretary of State. They find the remains of the guerrilla Ernesto “Ché” Guevara in Bolivia and are transferred to Cuba. The guerrillas in Algeria destroy entire villages in that country, murdering almost all its inhabitants. A terrorist attack occurs in Luxor (Egypt) at the Temple of Hatshepsut, when 62 people were killed, including 58 tourists, the majority Swiss. In Ecuador, they dismissed President Abdalá Bucaram on the grounds of “mental incapacity to govern.” The dictator Mobutu Sese Seko leaves power in Zaire, which is renamed the Democratic Republic of the Congo again and the United Kingdom transfers Hong Kong to the People’s Republic of China. The Soufriere-Hills volcano erupts on the island of Montserrat, burying the island’s capital with lava, leaving a trail of destruction. An earthquake hits the Venezuelan cities of Cumaná and Cariaco with hundreds of victims and thousands die in other earthquakes in eastern and northern Iran. Other earthquakes affect Coquimbo and Punitaqui (Chile), the Umbria region (Italy), Harnai (Pakistan), Jabalpur (India) and Chittagong (Bangladesh). Hundreds die after Hurricane Paulina in Mexico. The Spanish cities of Alicante and Badajoz suffer the worst floods in their history, and Poland, Germany and the Czech Republic are also flooded. For the first time in more than 100 years it snows in Guadalajara (Mexico). The Catia Retention Center in Caracas (Venezuela) is demolished, bird flu affects Southeast Asia and the VII Ibero-American Summit is held on Margarita Island. Comet Hale-Bopp passes close to planet earth, Hotmail passes into the hands of Microsoft and the DVD video format begins to be used in the US. This year the Asian Financial Crisis occurs and the capital of Kazakhstan moves from Almaty to Astana.

                The Hawaiian Brook Mahealani Lee gives the seventh Miss Universe crown to the United States in Miami, a city that a few days before is affected by a tornado in the middle of the contest that leaves damages of more than US $ 500,000, while Consuelo Adler becomes the second Venezuelan to achieve the title of Miss International in Japan. The British song “Love Shine A Light” by the band Katrina & The Waves, wins the Eurovision Song Contest in Ireland while the Mexican singer Iridián wins the OTI in Lima (Peru) with the song “Se Diga Lo Que Se Diga” and the film “The English Patient” wins the Oscar for Best Picture. In the cinema the films “Titanic”, “The Lost World: Jurassic Park II”, “Life is Beautiful”, “Men in Black”, “Tomorrow Never Dies” (from the James Bond series), “Better … Impossible”, “Hercules”, “My Best Friend’s Wedding”, “Fifth Element”, “Full Monty”, “Batman & Robin”, “I Know What You Did Last Summer”, “Liar, Liar”, “Free Willy 3”, “Anaconda”, “George of the Jungle”, “Home Alone 3”, “Scream 2”, “Anastasia” and “Volcano”.

                In Venezuela the youth soap opera “A Todo Corazón” is premiered, in the US the animated series “South Park” and the anime “Pokemon” begins to be broadcast on TV in Tokyo (Japan). The first Harry Potter book is published in London and the Cable channel “CNN in Spanish” is inaugurated in the US. On the radio we hear the songs “As Long As You Love Me” and “Everybody” by Backstreet Boys, “Barbie Girl” by Aqua, “Candle in the Wind” by Elton John, “How Do I Live” by Leann Rimes, “María” by Ricky Martin, “Don´t Cry for Me Argentina” by Madonna, “I’ll Be Missing You” by Puff Daddy, Faith Evens & 112, “Free” by Ultra Nate, “Bitter Sweet Simphony” by The Verve , “Spice Up Your Life” by Spice Girls, “Torn” by Natalie Imbruglia, “Bitch” by Meredith Brooks, “Alone” by the Bee Gees, “Corazón Partio” and “Amiga Mia” by Alejandro Sanz, “Si Tu Supieras” and “No Sé Olvidar” by Alejandro Fernández, “Lloran las Rosas” by Cristian Castro, “Laura No Está” by Nek, “Amor a la Mexicana” by Thalia and “Antología” by Shakira. In 1997, the Indian Manushi Chhillar (Miss World 2017) and the American TV personality Kylie Jenner were born. Besides Lady Di, the following personalities died in 1997: Mother Teresa of Calcutta, singer John Denver (in a plane crash), Egyptian Film Producer Dodi Fayed (Lady Di’s companion in the car accident), French oceanographer Jacques Cousteau, former Prime Minister of Grenada Eric Gairy (judge in Miss World 1970), former Colombian President Misael Pastrana, rapper The Notorious BIG (killed in Los Angeles) and Italian designer Gianni Versace (killed in Miami).

SEYCHELLES IS CHOSEN AS THE MISS WORLD 1997 SITE.-

                On March 24, 1997, the Seychelles were formally offered to host the Miss World ’97 event, in what was seen as a major boost to the islands’ marketing efforts. Eric Morley, president of Miss World, decided to choose Seychelles as the venue for the international pageant, which would take place, as usual, in November. He also offered the Seychelles to host the event at its discretion in 1998, with an option for another three years. In a letter sent earlier this year to Vice President James Michel, Mr. Morley expressed his confidence and extreme satisfaction with the professional manner in which Seychelles organized part of the event in 1996. He made special reference to the warmth and hospitality offered by the people from Seychelles and the personal support of Vice President James Michel to ensure that the event was organized with the precision of a clock.

Seychelles

               Morley stated: “This was the first time in the 46-year history of Miss World that everyone in the country participated in the event with pride and pleasure.” IDEAS, a division of the Ministry of Finance and Communications, negotiated the contract with the Miss World organization. IDEAS brought together a group of investors, including a major US investment bank that specializes in financing the entertainment industry, to subsidize all expenses for the contest. Kumar De, director of IDEAS, said the Seychelles government only offered the country as a venue, but would not spend public money for the event. Mr De said that the group of investors had delegated the entire management of the event to the Seychelles. Meanwhile, Walt Disney Special Events Co., the event management wing of the US-based entertainment giant, had expressed interest in producing the contest. “A team from Walt Disney Special Events is expected to be in Seychelles in April to finalize locations and other production formalities,” De said. He added that negotiations were underway with major television networks for a global live broadcast of the main contest and the sub-events. The traditional audience target for Miss World was Europe, Asia and Africa, where an estimated 2.9 billion viewers would see the event. However, De said, “we also want to penetrate the North and South American market,” where there are an additional 1 billion viewers. Having the Walt Disney name associated with the event will be a great help to penetrate this market. In addition, a strategic alliance was formed with the Miss World licensee countries in the US and Canada to help increase viewership.

                Mr. De said: “Our goal is to make this Miss World the best of all by bringing in the best event managers, producers, celebrities and judges. To increase audience interest, the proposed judges were expected to come from different walks of life and parts of the world, such as Hollywood stars, sports personalities, media moguls, fashion magazine editors, fashion designers, ex-beauty queens and Top Models”. Linked to the event, IDEAS also wanted to raise awareness of the Seychelles as an investment destination and was therefore considering holding an investor conference before or after the event.

GRAND POLICE BAY DISCARDED AS THE PAGEANT’S VENUE.-

                It was unlikely that Grand Police Bay was the site of choice for the Miss World competition. According to the information received by the newspaper “Regar” on July 18, the venues of several events of the contest were still under consideration and Grand Police had problems. Mr. Kumar De, from the Ministry of Finance, who was ensuring the liaison with the project entrepreneurs, did not confirm that there was a change in plans. But he told “Regar” that the directors of the company had analyzed various alternatives for various events during their recent visit and would decide at the end of August where they would be located. So far, it was a place near the Grand Police that had been mentioned as the possible site. But the difficulties of holding the event in such a remote corner of the island caused a change in plans, reported “Regar”. Since there was no existing infrastructure, the location would involve a great deal of work and expense. The event required electricity, water and telephone services, as well as parking and seating. The access road to the Grand Police was a major problem as it was narrow and poorly paved. There was no official information on the possible venue for the events. Aside from the occasional hotel, it was the Unity Stadium in Roche Caiman or an open-air venue in the area that could be the strongest contenders for the finals.

Plantation Club Hotel & Casino

NATIONAL COMPETITIONS.-

                As the Seychelles prepared to host the beauty queens, Barbados, Bermuda, Grenada, Denmark and Tunisia decided to decline the Miss World franchise. However, Cape Verde and Kazakhstan would debut, while Egypt, Honduras and Namibia returned to the competition after years of absence, and Nepal confirmed their representative, after several unsuccessful attempts. Guam, Kenya and Romania did not hold Miss World pageants in 1997 and the Miss Mauritius organization did not appoint a representative, which cost them the franchise. The national pageants in Bonaire and Curaçao were postponed until November, so this year, the islands would be absent from Miss World. The girls selected in these events would be sent to the Miss World 1998 edition. In Argentina and Ecuador, they made selection castings, where Natalia Pombo and Clio Olaya were chosen respectively. Clio had unsuccessfully competed at Miss Ecuador 1997 for Miss Universe. Meanwhile, Madame De Fontenay decided to send Miss World her Miss France 1996, Laure Belleville, who had already relinquished her national crown on December 13, 1996, so that once again a French holder would be the representative of that country to the contest of the Morleys, something that had not happened since 1993. In Malta, the franchise passed into the hands of a new organization, that of “Miss Maltese Islands”, which chose, in its first edition, Sarah Vella for Miss World. In the United States, Richard Guy and Rex Hult did not contest this year either, but at the end of July they appointed the New Yorker Sallie Toussaint, of Trinidadian blood, as the representative of the United States to Miss World ’97. Among the more than 90 countries that held a Miss World contest this year we have the following:

* MISS COSTA RICA.- Gabriela Aguilar Chavarría, a 19-year-old from Santana, was crowned Miss Costa Rica on Friday, October 18, 1996 at the Melico Salazar Theater, becoming the representative of her country in Miss Universe ’97. The first runner-up was Rebeca Escalante Trejos, a 21-year-old Industrial Engineering student (to Miss World ’97) and the second runner-up was Mónica Montero, 24.

* FEMINA MISS INDIA.- It was held on Saturday, January 18 at the SNDT Women’s University Field in Mumbai. The winners were Nafisa Joseph from Bangalore (to Miss Universe ’97), Diana Hayden from Mumbai (to Miss World ’97) and Divya Chauhan from Delhi (to Miss Asia Pacific ’97). They completed the Top 5: Diya Abraham (to Miss International ’97) and Sapna Kumar. 27 candidates participated.

* MISS SPAIN.- The Alicante Technification Center was the venue for the final of the “Miss Spain 1997” on Saturday, February 8. The winner was Miss Vizcaya, Inés Sanz Esteban, who attended Miss Universe ’97. The runner-ups were Miss Balearic Islands, Nuria Avellaneda (to Miss World ’97) and Miss Murcia, Isabel Gil Gamblin (also Miss Elegance and to Miss International ’97). The 8 finalists were completed by Miss Ávila (Patricia Fernández Cobos), Miss Soria (Cristina Urgel García), Miss La Coruña (Lola Pérez Fernández, who had been Miss Amazonas in Miss Venezuela ’95), Miss Melilla (María Reyes Álvarez) and Miss León (Patricia Jáñez Rodríguez). 52 participants competed.

* BINIBINING PILIPINAS.- It was held on Sunday, March 2 at the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City with 33 contestants. The winners were Abbygale Arenas (to Miss Universe), Kristine Florendo (to Miss World) and Susan J. Ritter (to Miss International). The finalists were Abiele del Moral and Marivic Galang.

* MISS ISRAEL.- 17-year-old Mirit Grinberg from Bersheva was chosen as Israel’s 48th beauty queen during her high school matriculation exams. Because of her age, she was sent to Miss World. The other winners were Dikla Hamdi (Beauty Maiden, to Miss Universe), Lital Shapira (Grace Queen, to Miss International), Alexandra Schwartztokh (Teen Queen, to Miss Europe and Miss Model International) and Chajki Oster (Beauty Princess). The event was held on Monday, March 10.

* MISS DOMINICAN REPUBLIC.- A new organization acquired the rights to the contest this year. The stage chosen as the venue for the 1997 National Beauty Contest was the La Fiesta theater at the Hotel Jaragua and it took place on Sunday, March 23. The winners were Cesarina Mejía as Miss Dominican Republic for Miss Universe, Carolina Estrella as Miss Dominican Republic for Miss World, Dominican Nuestra Belleza, Mariel Santelises (who renounced the title); Miss Dominican Hispanidad, Georgina Duluc (also renounced the title); Miss Dominican International, Elsa Peña; Miss Dominican Maja, Gisselle Herrera; Miss Dominican Latin America, Liza Guerrero; Miss Dominican Ambar, Jeimy Morel (dismissed); and Miss Dominican Coffee, Elizabeth Oquendo (also dismissed).

* FROKEN SVERIGE.- The Miss Sweden contest took place on Saturday March 29 in a Stockholm TV studio and had the participation of 10 girls. Victoria Lagerstroem, 24, a business consultant, won the title and the right to represent the country in Miss Universe ’97. Sofia Joelsson, 24, a Lufthansa flight attendant, was the first runner-up and went to Miss World ’97 and Jessica Johansson, a 22-year-old student, was selected as the second runner-up and representative for Miss Europe ’97.

* STAR HELLAS.- The final was held on Monday, April 7 at the Diogenis Pallas in Athens. As “Miss Hellas 1997” was crowned Evgenia Limantzaki (to Miss World ’97) while Elina Zissi was chosen “Star Hellas 1997” (to Miss Universe ’97). The event was attended by the reigning Miss World, the also Greek Eirini Skliva. For her part, Isabelle Darras was chosen “Greek Woman” towards Miss Europe. The finalists were Katia Sgouropoulou and Vanessa Stavrou. 29 candidates participated.

* MISS CZECH REPUBLIC- Terezie Dobrovolna won the crown on Saturday April 19 at the DK Invest in Pilsen, obtaining the right to represent the country in Miss World ’97. The finalists were Kristyna Frivaldska (to Miss Europe ’97 and Miss Universe ’98) and Gabriela Justinova (to Miss International ’97).

* MISS UKRAINE.- The contest was held on board the ship “General Vatutin”, on the Kiev-Kanev route, on Thursday, May 1. It was won by 18-year-old Kseniya Kuzmenko, from the city of Kharkov, who traveled to Miss World ’97. The finalists were Natasha Stafeeva, 18, from Odessa; Victoria Ivanchenko, 16, from Zhitomir; and Katya Potlova, 18, of Mariupol.

* MISS & MR. LATVIA.- The winner was 18-year-old Līga Graudumniece from Rezekne and Laura Valaine was the runner-up. For his part, Rets Renemanis won the title of Mister Latvia at the same event. 8 girls and 8 boys participated in the contest held on Saturday, May 3 in Riga.

* MISS PORTUGAL.- A curious event occurred in the finals of “Miss Portugal 1997” held on Thursday, May 15 at the Estoril Casino. Icília Silva Berenguel, a native of Porto, was called as second runner-up when she had actually been the winner of the contest, but immediately the host Humberto Bernardo, who had made a mistake when reading the results, corrected the error. Icilia attended Miss World ’97, Miss Universe ’98 and Miss International ’98. The First Maid of Honor was Kátia Fonseca (also Miss Photogenic) who was sent to Miss International ’97, and the Second Maid of Honor, Natalia Pinho. The top 5 were completed by Alice Félix and Tania Falcao. 16 candidates participated.

* EESTI MISS.- The Estonian beauty pageant was held on Friday, May 16 in Tallinn. The winner was Mairit Roosaar, who was sent to Miss World. The finalists were Marion (?) And Aljona (?).

* MISS KOREA.- It was on Saturday, May 17 at the Auditorium of the Sejong Center. The winner, heading to Miss Universe ’98, was Ji-yeon Kim. The finalists turned out to be Jin-ah Kim (to Miss World ’97), Hye-young Cho (to Miss International ’98), Eun-joo Chung, Sun-hong Lim, Hye-jun Yeo, Soh-won Ham and Yoon- joo cho.

* MISS BELGIUM.- Nineteen candidates competed for the crown of “Miss Belgium 1997” on Saturday, May 17 at the Forest National. The winner was Sandrine Corman, 17 years old and 1.74 m tall, from Liege (to Miss World ’97 and Miss Universe ’98) while the finalists turned out to be Wendy De Vos and Sophie Dewitte. Sandrine Dans and Fabienne Lorent completed the Top 5.

* FEGURÐARDROTTNING ÍSLANDS.- Harpa Lind Hardarsdottir won the title as the most beautiful woman in Iceland on Friday, May 23 at the Islandi hotel in Reykjavik. Her crown gave her the right to participate in Miss World ’97 and Miss Universe ’98. Her sister Brynja Björk had finished third at this same event in 1995. This year’s finalists were Guðný Helga Herbertsdóttir, Dagmar Íris Gylfadóttir, Eva Dögg Jónsdóttir and Þorgerður Þórðardóttir. 20 candidates competed.

* MISS KAZAKHSTAN.- The official Miss Kazakhstan contest was held on Monday, June 2, with the participation of 36 girls from 10 regions of the country. The winner was 18-year-old Zhamilya Bisembieva from Almaty, and her finalists were Margarita Pavlovskaya (to the 1997 Elite Model Look in Nice, France) and Azhar Makhatova.

* MIS LIETUVA.- It took place on Saturday June 7 at the Concert and Sports Hall of Vilnius, Lithuania. The winner was Asta Vysniauskaite, 20, from Kaunas, heading to Miss World ’97. Her finalists were Eva Bžezinska (to Miss Europe ’97), Inga Leipusaitė (also Miss Fotogenia) and Renata Voitechovskaja (who a few years later won Miss Bikini of the World 2000). 26 candidates participated.

* MISS & MISTER HUNGARY.- For the first time, the Hungarians jointly elected the representatives of that country to the Miss and Mister World. The event was held on Friday, June 27 at the Vidám Szinpad in Budapest and was attended by six girls and six boys. The winners were Beáta Petes, 18 years old and 1.75 m tall, and Krisztián Chis, 22 years old and 1.88 m tall.

* MISS PERU WORLD.- It was held at the Hotel El Pueblo, on the outskirts of Lima, on Saturday, June 28. The event had 23 candidates and Antonio Vodanovic as the compere. The winner was Claudia Luque (Amazonas), 20 years old and 1.75 m. In second place and as Miss Peru International was Ana Matallana Illich (Ancash) and in third place, as Miss Peru Asia Pacific, Maia Cristina Larrañaga (Huánuco). The other finalists were Mariana Bedoya Berckely (Puno, to the South American Queen), Alejandra Barbosa (Tumbes, to the International Queen of Beaches) and María Verónica Bustamante (Tacna, to the Beauty of America and the Caribbean). The semifinalists were completed by Geraldine Cateriano (Piura), María Ángela Quesada (Arequipa), Lissette Mathey (San Martín), Minela Chavarri (Ucayali), Ana María Pareja (Ayacucho) and Ingrid Pizarro (Madre de Dios). The jury included the Venezuelan ex-Miss Worlds Astrid Carolina Herrera (1984) and Jacqueline Aguilera (1995). The contest was broadcast delayed a day later.

* MISS WORLD COLOMBIA.- It was won by Gladys Buitrago Caicedo, representative of Caldas, who was crowned on Monday, June 30 at the William Shakespeare Cultural Center in Bogotá among 30 candidates. As Vice-Queen, was the representative of Antioquia, Diana Mondragón Bedoya, while the first runner-up was the queen of Atlantico, Sandra Patricia Londoño Jiménez.

* MISS HONG KONG.- It was held at the Hung Hom Coliseum on Sunday, July 13. The winner and also Miss Photogenic was Virginia Yung (to Miss Universe ’98 and Miss Chinese International ’98) and the finalists were Vivian Lee (to Miss World ’97) and Charmaine Sheh (to Miss International ’97).

* MISS COMMONWEALTH BAHAMAS.- Alveta Adderly, a student at Norman Manley Law School in Jamaica, was the winner heading to Miss World ’97. The finalists were Terranique Miller and Beverly Rolle. 8 contestants competed. The final was held at the Atlantis Showroom at the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island, on Sunday, July 27.

* MISS SOUTH AFRICA.- The Sun City SuperBowl was once again the venue for this event, which took place on Saturday, August 2 with 9 finalists. It was won by Kerishnie Naicker (KwaZulu-Natal), who was also anointed Miss Photogenic. The finalists were Jessica Motaung (Gauteng) and Petra van Zyl (Northwest). Thembi Mbengashe (Western Cape) and Yolanda Schoeman (Free State) completed the Top 5. The organization acquired the Miss Universe franchise this year, so they decided to send the first runner-up to Miss World and leave the winner to debut in Miss Universe.

* SUOMEN NEITO.- Finland’s representative to Miss World ’97 was crowned on Saturday, August 9 among 10 contestants. The winner was Minna Lehtinen and the finalists Kati Nirkko and Anna Eskola.

* MISS WORLD CHILE.- The final was held on Saturday, August 9 in a TV studio on Channel 13 with 10 candidates and, as in the previous year, the election was carried out by telephone votes from the public. The queen was 17-year-old Paulina Mladinic, while the finalists were Elisa Collins and Marlen Olivari.

* MISS CANADA INTERNATIONAL.- This event took over the Miss World franchise starting this year. It was held on Monday, August 11 with 18 competitors in Toronto where Miss Annapolis Valley (Nova Scotia), Emily Ryan, was the winner. The finalists were Miss Manitoba, Mandi Hauchbaum and Miss Chathem (Ontario), Brooke Ross. However, Emily declined to participate in Miss World, so the organizers appointed Keri-Lynn Power, Miss Labrador (Newfoundland) , who had competed but not made the semifinalists in this contest, as the representative to Miss World because she could afford her participation expenses. Emily Ryan was dethroned in January 1998 for failing to fulfill her obligations as queen, being replaced by second runner-up, Brooke Ross.

* MISS IRELAND.- Andrea Roche, from Clonmel, Tipperary, took the crown on Monday, August 25 at the Burlington Hotel in Dublin, winning the opportunity to go to Miss World ’97 and Miss Universe ’98.

* MISS HONDURAS.- Hansel Cristina Cáceres, a 17-year-old student from Copán, won the Miss Honduras title on Saturday, August 30 at the Expo Centro in San Pedro Sula. The event was organized by Sandra de Hernández who took over the Miss World franchise that year. The finalists were Jennifer Parson, Julissa Espinoza and Miriam Vivas.

* MISS PANAMA.- Tanisha Drummond Johnson, a professional model from Colón, won the title of Miss Panama for Miss Universe ’98 on Saturday, August 30 at the Anayansi Theater of the Atlapa Convention Center. As Miss Panama for Miss World ’97 was crowned Patricia Bremner Hernández and as Miss Panama for Nuestra Belleza International, Iris Ávila Moreno. The honor roll was completed by Mónica Herrador (also Miss Photogenic), and Lourdes Priscilla Lewis. The event, which had the participation of 14 entrants, were hosted by formers Miss Panama for Miss World 1990 and 1995, Madeleine Legnadier and Marisela Moreno, along with Iván Donoso and the actor Francisco Gatorno.

* MISS WORLD OF PUERTO RICO.- Aurea Marrero, representing Dorado, was crowned Miss World of Puerto Rico on Saturday, September 6 at the Center for Fine Arts in the city of Caguas. The first runner-up was Jazmin Ortiz de Guaynabo, who weeks before had been a runner-up in the 1998 Miss Universe Puerto Rico. The second runner-up was Miss Hatillo, Mara Torres. Jéssica Díaz (Coamo) and Ilianys Rivera (Humacao) completed the Top 5.

* MISS TRINIDAD & TOBAGO.- Wendy Fitzwilliam was crowned “Miss Trinidad & Tobago 1997” to represent her country at Miss Universe ’98, on Sunday, September 7th in Port of Spain, just one day after the funeral of Princess Diana of Wales. For her part, Mandy Jagdeo was elected Miss World Trinidad ’97. The finalists were Nicole James (to Miss Caraibes Hibiscus), and Cheryl Ann Guevara, who was also honored with the title of “Miss Trinidad Internet”. Twelve candidates participated.

* MISS & MISTER UNITED KINGDOM.- It was held on Tuesday, September 9 at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London with 20 candidates. It was won by Miss Blackpool, Vicki-Lee Walberg, a 21-year-old professional model, and the finalists were Miss Lancaster, Abby Essien and Miss Leicestershire, Sarah Smart. The Top 5 were completed by Miss Wales, Melanie Jones, and Miss Cambridge, Elizabeth Simons. Brett Phippen from Swansea, Wales, but representing London, won the 1997 Mister UK title heading to Mr. World ’98 at the same event. (It should be noted that in 1997 there was no Mister World contest). The finalists were David Hutchings from Leicester and Natham Kempster from Bornemouth. 10 candidates participated. Eric Morley, who read the results in reverse order as usual, was booed by the audience. This was the last Miss & Mr. UK pageant to be broadcast on British TV.

* MISS VENEZUELA.- The dome of the Caracas’ Poliedro was once again the venue for the great event of Venezuelan beauty on Friday, September 12, in which for the first time there was a cybernetic vote to choose a Miss Internet among the 29 participants. As Miss Venezuela (for Miss Universe ’98) Miss Táchira, Veruska Ramírez was elected, while Miss Nueva Esparta, Christina Dieckmann, obtained the crown of Miss World Venezuela and the Miss Internet award; and Miss Aragua, Daniela Kosán, was named Miss Venezuela International. Curiously, Nueva Esparta took the title of Miss World Venezuela for the third consecutive year! The finalists were Patricia Fuenmayor (Zulia), Jairam Navas (Federal District), Yosmely Soto (Vargas Municipality), Maylen Noguera (Cojedes) and Catalina García (Federal Dependencies). This year was the debut of Maite Delgado, former Miss Tourism of the Caribbean and Central America ’86, as the hostess of Miss Venezuela, together with Napoleón Bravo and with the support of Alicia Machado (Miss Universe ’96) and Sandro Finoglio (who shortly after was Mr. World ’98).

* MISS MALAYSIA WORLD.- The final was held in the grand hall of the Legend Hotel in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday, September 13, among 20 contestants, winning Arianna Teoh Lai Poh, from the island of Penang. The finalists were Lavinia Tan Poh Ling, Priscilla Wong May Lee, and Cinthy Yii Yih Yee.

* MISS SLOVENIA.- It was held at the Cankarjev Dom in Ljubljana on Saturday, September 13. The winner was Maja Simec, 18, a student from Crnomelj. The finalists were Tina Orac (also Miss Photogenic), 19, from Novo Mesto and Tjasa Vidic, 22, from Zgornje Gorije, near Bled.

* NUESTRA BELLEZA WORLD MEXICO.- The contest was held in the Teotihuacán Hall of the Acapulco International Convention Center, Guerrero, on Saturday, September 13 and was conducted by Raúl Velasco. This was the second time that a separate event was held to elect the representative of Mexico to Miss World. The winner was Blanca Soto (Morelos) and the finalists were Felicidad Aveleyra (Federal District), Katty Fuentes (Nuevo León), Elizabeth Jiménez (State of Mexico) and Corina Torres (Nayarit). Blanca Soto also competed in the Nuestra Belleza Mexico finals, but there she was 1st runner-up, an event that Katty Fuentes won. 32 contestants participated.

* MISS WORLD SLOVAKIA.- Marietta Senchakova won the crown on Friday, September 19 at the Spa Hall in Trenčianske Teplice, defeating 11 other candidates.

* MISS THAILAND WORLD.- It was held on Saturday, September 20 at the Convention Hall of the Central Plaza Hotel in Bangkok. The winner was Tanya Suesuntisook, a 24-year-old student at the Faculty of Science and Medicine at a University in the North American city of Chicago, who was fluent in three languages in addition to Thai: English, French and Spanish. The finalists were Atchariya Buasuwan, Ransa Thong Wiset, Kamala Kamphu Na Ayuthaya, and Phanvisa Chuewong.

* MISS POLAND.- It was held on Saturday, September 20 in the Congress Hall of the Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw with 20 participants. The winner was Roksana Jonek, an 18-year-old high school student and 1.76 m tall. The finalists were Agnieszka Osinska (also Miss Elegance and Miss Audience), Sylwia Kupiec (also Miss Grace) and Urszula Kaminska.

* MISS SWITZERLAND – Tanja Gutmann, a 20-year-old Director of Rail Operations, from Biberist, was chosen on Saturday, September 20 in a TSR TV studio, (French-speaking TV) in Geneva, among 16 girls. Tanja, also Miss Photogenic, achieved the honor of representing her country in Miss World ’97 and Miss Universe ’98. The finalists were Tanja Vogt from Locarno and Elena Stadler from Mendrisio.

* MISS GIBRALTAR.- It took place on Saturday, September 20 at the Queen’s Cinema with 7 participants. The winner was Rossanna Ressa (to Miss World ’97) and the princesses were Karina Sánchez and Justine Hardy.

* MISS CAYMAN ISLANDS.- Cassandra Powell, 23, won the Miss Cayman Islands pageant on Saturday, September 20. The first runner-up was Mona Lisa Tatum, 20 (who later won in 1999), and the second runner-up was Tara Rivers, 22. Among the judges was Lisa Hanna from Jamaica, who was Miss World 1993.

* MISS GHANA.- Benita Sena Golomeke, 21, was crowned in Accra on Tuesday, September 23, on her way to Miss World. The finalists were Rachel Ohui Caeser, 18, and Paulina Yelibora, 20.

* MISS YUGOSLAVIA.- It was held on Wednesday, September 24 in Belgrade. The crown fell on the temples of 18-year-old Tamara Saponjic, from the city of Pancevo, on her way to Miss World ’97. The finalists were Jelena Trninic, from Belgrade (to Miss Universe ’98) and Jelena Bajagic, from Nis.

* MISS WORLD NEW ZEALAND.- The director of Miss New Zealand resigned from the Miss World franchise in 1996 so Ros Taylor acquired the rights in 1997 and made the first edition of “Miss World New Zealand”, which was won by Lauralee Martinovich on Saturday, 27 September in Auckland.

* MISS CROATIA- Martina Novosel, from Zagreb, was crowned Miss Croatia (for Miss World) on Sunday, October 5 in Opatiji. The finalists were Tijana Safer, from Rijeke, and Iris Rajcic, from Split.

* MISS NEDERLAND.- It was held on Friday, October 17 and was won by Sonja Aldina Silva, Miss Rotterdam, 20, being the second Afro-Dutch to win the title. Dunja Muskens, Miss Noord-Brabant was the first runner-up, and the second runner-up was Nadine Ben Moussa, Miss Leeuwarden. Completing the Top 6 were Ilona van Veldhuisen (who later won this same event in 1999), Esther de Graaff and Chantal Pirard. 12 contestants participated.

* MISS SINGAPORE WORLD.- Jasmine Wong won the title on Saturday, October 18 at the Neptuno Theater-Restaurant. The finalists were Nuntheni Sivalingam and Sharon Wong.

* MISS BRAZIL WORLD.- The Hotel Fazenda Mato Grosso in Cuiabá was the venue for the contest that brought together 22 candidates from all over the country. The winner was Miss Rio Grande Do Sul, Fernanda Rambo Agnes, who in a few days left for London for the first stage of Miss World. The finalists were Ana Carolina Nunes (Mato Grosso), Ana Carolina Busatto (Paraná), Cynthia Soares (Minas Gerais) and Resiane Mércia Duarte (Santa Catarina). The final was held on Saturday, October 18.

* BEAUTY OF RUSSIA (KRASA ROSSII) .- It was held on Tuesday, October 21 at the Moscow Youth Palace, with 28 candidates. It was won by 17-year-old Lyudmila Popova, from Yekaterinburg, on her way to Miss World ’97. The finalists were 18-year-old Olesya Nikonenko from Oryol and 19-year-old Ekaterina Petrova from Crimea. The Top 5 was completed by Maria Balkova (St. Petersburg) and Irina Shatalina (Kaliningrad).

* MISS WORLD GERMANY.- Katja Glawe, 19, from Berlin, was crowned “Miss World Germany 1997” on Sunday, October 26 in the city of Berlin, a few days before the concentration in London.

CANDIDATES

REPLACED:

DID NOT COMPETE:

SHE TRAINED IN INDIA.-

                Miss Seychelles, Michelle Lane, traveled to India on September 17, where she took a grooming and modeling course, sponsored by the Amusement Center. The two-week training course was designed especially for her by fashion photographer Atul Kelkar from Smiles agency in Mumbai. Miss India 1986, Mehr Jesia, would be the workshop advisor and she was expected to pass on her experience to Lane. The course would cover makeup, hairstyling, skincare, mental and physical conditioning, poses, catwalk, public speaking, manners, etiquette, and fashion. Along with the wardrobe for Miss World 1997, the total sponsorship of the Amusement Center was approximately R 100,000. Through the Miss Seychelles Association, Amusement Center also arranged for Miss Seychelles to donate a sum of money to a local orphanage in India, on behalf of the people of her country. She gave 24,500 Indian rupees (approximately R3,500) to the Akanksha Foundation, which helps educate street children. On her visit to Mumbai she also met Miss India, Diana Hayden. Miss Seychelles celebrated her birthday on September 28 in India and received no less than four cakes for the occasion. She said that she would have to control her weight and exercise regularly. “I have to go to the pageant with a winning attitude and, most importantly, be myself,” she said.

                Upon her return, Miss Seychelles said that she now felt better prepared and more confident to face the Miss World competition. “I think my chances are very good … I will be on an equal footing with the other contestants,” she said, adding that her clothes, designed by Tarun Tahiliani, one of India’s top fashion designers, was “fabulous”. Tahiliani, who designed the clothes for the Miss World fashion show last year, was preparing most of Miss Seychelles’ dresses for Miss World. She was due to return to India on October 23 for the final test, just before leaving for London to join the other Miss World contestants.

PLANTATION CLUB HOTEL & CASINO CHOSEN AS THE 1997 MISS WORLD VENUE .-

                An international team from the Seychelles, South Africa and the UK decided to merge talents to create a world-class event. On September 21 they were putting the finishing touches on the Miss World 1997 beauty pageant, the finale of which was being held for the first time in the Seychelles. The world’s most coveted beauty title would attract a record number of 91 contestants to the world’s most beautiful islands for three weeks in November, culminating in the coronation on Saturday the 22nd of that month. Miss World founder and president Eric Morley arrived in Seychelles on Thursday, October 2, on a short three-day trip to put his stamp of approval on the preparations for the event that would take place on a special stage at the Plantation Club Hotel & Casino in Valmer Beach, Baie Lazare, which has been designated as the Official Hotel of the event. Morley traveled with Alistair McMillan, in charge of directing the Miss World television show. The next day, Morley met Vice President James Michel for lunch at his State House. Also present were senior officials from the Ministry of Finance and Communications and local coordinators of Miss World ’97.

THRILL IN THE SEYCHELLES FOR THE CONTEST.-

                Known among discerning travelers as a group of 115 of the most beautiful and unspoiled vacation islands, the Seychelles was about to host one of the world’s most glamorous events in “eco-friendly” flair by putting its pristine natural environment at the forefront of the world setting and decoration. Starting in October, the Seychelles Islands media were excitedly publicizing the celebration of the forty-seventh edition of Miss World in that Indian Ocean nation. For the first time in the 47-year history of Miss World, the beauty pageant would be broadcast to the world from a Robinson Crusoe-style stage, with coconut trees and giant granite rocks in the heart of the lush vegetation of the island of Mahe. Seychelles’ initiative to put its pristine natural environment at the forefront of the stage and decoration of the Miss World beauty pageant, to be held on November 22, was described as wonderful and an example that other countries could follow. Commenting on this “green” style in which the Seychelles intended to host one of the world’s most glamorous events, Morley told reporters that harnessing the natural environment to produce something other countries cannot was an excellent initiative without it would certainly enhance Seychelles’ image as a leader in environmental protection.

                During the three weeks leading up to the final, the 91 contestants would be photographed against some of the most beautiful natural backgrounds on the planet. On the preparations, Morley said that he was satisfied with what he had seen thus far, adding that he was optimistic that this year’s event would be a great show. “The thoughts that I had … that it is going to be a great show, have been totally realized from the preparations that I have seen so far,” he said. Eric Morley, who left the Seychelles on Saturday night, October 4, also said that the next step on his side was to gather the 91 Miss World contestants for a Great Charity Ball in London, benefiting Variety Club International and Outward Bound. As the entire world press was expected to attend the London performance, Mr Morley noted that showing them videos about Seychelles could have enormous promotional value for the islands. For his part, Alistair McMillan described the setting for this year’s Miss World pageant as “wonderful and exciting.” “It’s probably one of the best I’ve seen in recent years,” he commented. He said that he was particularly impressed with the variety of colors, the vegetation and the amazing diversity of the islands that he visited for the pre-contest filming sessions. Although there was a standard structure for Miss World contests, McMillan noted, however, that each year they tried to beautify it, adding to it some of the culture of the country hosting the event. “And that is certainly what we will do for this year’s event in Seychelles,” he said. Speaking about the spectacular tropical show that local organizers were putting together for the November 22 event, McMillan said it was a lovely idea and that it was very important to have local artists on show. However, since the event will be broadcast live around the world, it was also important to bring in other international artists for the show.

                The previous year, when Indian women’s activists demonstrated against the Miss World pageant in Bangalore, organizers took refuge on the shores of the Seychelles for their swimsuit shoot and fashion show. For this year’s pageant, the Miss World organizers were building a stage in the heart of the southern part of Mahe, with a backdrop of blue skies, tall coconut trees and the unmistakable granite rocks, as the Seychelles are the only oceanic granitic islands in the world. The locations selected for the photo shoot would include deserted beaches, rock facades, the Botanical Garden, as well as the UNESCO World Heritage site Valle de Mai, home to the world’s largest seed, the Coco-de-mer suggestive size. During the preparation for the contest, the contestants would learn about the islands’ strategic nature conservation program, in which almost the entire population participates in maintaining the environment, thanks to the prominence and excellent track record of Seychelles in this field. The Seychelles has two world heritage sites: the Mai Valley and the world’s largest lagoon, Aldabra, which is home to a unique ecological system, one of the largest populations of giant tortoises in the world, and one of the only flightless birds that remain on earth.

                The coordinator of Public Relations and Communications of Miss World in Seychelles, Mr. Gilbert Pool, said: “This event will show the natural beauty of the islands and the pageant broadcast on television will transmit this message to the rest of the world. You could call it ‘Miss World returns to nature’, the most precious asset of our planet”. On Saturday, October 11, an important South African team arrived in Seychelles, made up of Grahame and Jenny Beggs from Breakaway Ltd, responsible for coordinating Miss World in South Africa and obtaining international sponsorships, Mark West, Mariana Ferreira and Denise Palm, who were the creative production and design team for the program included Tim Dunn, who directed the lighting and sound, Ken Upton of Upton International, responsible for negotiating the television rights of the event worldwide, and the contest’s choreographer, Ken Warwick from the UK, who spent several days searching for video locations around Mahe, Praslin and La Digue. Almost 100 countries had confirmed they would take the signal from the event, with more expected in the coming weeks, bringing the expected audience to around 1 billion people. Mark West of the South African company Combined Artists Productions said: “For us, it is a great experience to bring the fantasy of a beauty pageant to a group of dream islands”. In giving a brief description of his company’s field of work, Mr. West said that Combined Artists Productions specialized in live broadcasts, great shows, and general entertainment. It has produced the Miss World pageant for the past seven years. He explained that the most important thing in the production of a pageant was to show the area and region where the show was taking place. Referring to this year’s event, he said that it was of the utmost importance to show the world a picture, not only of the contestants, but also of what Seychelles was like: its natural beauty, its friendly people and its rich culture. For her part, Mariana Ferreira, director of Starlight Productions, explained that given the short time left before the event and the lack of locally available equipment, it would be imperative that they bring their own equipment. She noted that eight to ten cameras would be needed for a show of this caliber, plus an online and offline editing suite that would run 18-24 hours a day, as well as a portable OB (external broadcast) unit. She said the editing suite would fly in on November 1, while the OB unit would arrive on November 15. On November 16, they would set up the unit, followed by rehearsals the next day.

AUDITIONS IN SEYCHELLES.-

                On the other hand, young talents from Seychelles were offered a unique opportunity to be a part of the Miss World ’97 show. Local event organizers were looking for more than 200 local talents, including models, entertainment entertainers and musicians for the tropical show. The entertainment for the contest and the coronation dance would offer a unique mix of Seychellois and South American influences and was expected to feature the best of Seychellois culture, traditional music and dance. In total, the organizers were looking for 50 dancers, 12 male models, 12 male bodybuilders, 30 drummers and percussionists, four guitarists, four fire eaters and 40 entertaining entertainers. Auditions would begin on October 2 at the old Youth Center near the Flamboyant Nightclub. These would be held over several days to also select a welcoming team made up of tall, attractive and outgoing young people for the 91 Miss World contestants to receive a warm greeting from the Seychelles upon their arrival on November 3. For the welcoming group, the organizers were looking for 40 young men and women. The organization of this section of the pageant was being supervised by John Etienne, Andrew Gee and Patrick Victor, who participated in the previous year’s Miss World Fashion Show in the Seychelles. Event coordinator Francis Savy said: “This is a unique opportunity for our talented young people to not only demonstrate their ability, but also help Seychelles put on a great show on the world stage”.

CONTEST LOGO UNVEILED.-

               Local Miss World organizers launched the event’s new logo on Tuesday, October 14. The logo projected the image of the Miss World pageant as a celebration of modern women and an extension of the organization’s long-standing motto: “Beauty with a Purpose”. The logo was designed by a South African company, The Ad Store, led by Isabella Burini, one of the team’s collaborators based in Seychelles. “Miss World is widely known for her charitable work and each year the winner spends a considerable amount of time traveling the world promoting the Organization’s work through projects linked to Variety Club International.” Gilbert Pool, the local coordinator, said: “Seychelles will also benefit from the goodwill of Miss World 1997, a particularly significant year when we are spreading the motto of ‘Caring and sharing’ “. Mr. Pool said that the new logo had been inspired by the fusion of the most beautiful women and the most beautiful islands in the world. “With an exciting new location for Miss World, comes a completely new look, one that simultaneously expresses the values ​​of the contestants and the islands”, said Pool. The designer described her work saying: “The lines of the logo embrace the elegance, fluidity and grace of the event; they dance like palm trees in the breeze or like waves gently lapping on a deserted beach. In a rhythmic swirl, the woman reveals herself embracing life with outstretched arms, in and out of a circle of typography that not only envelops it but serves as its stage. The blue of the logo is inspired by the vibrant blue that surrounds the Seychelles and is intended to be a blue metallic that catches the light to give the effect of waves that sparkle in the sun”.

TICKET PRICES ANNOUNCED.-

               The organizers of Miss World 1997 announced on Tuesday, October 14, the prices of the two key events of this pageant: The finals together with the coronation party on November 22 at the Plantation Club Hotel and Casino and the night of fashion on November 15 at the Hotel Berjaya Mahe Beach. Tickets to the final and the coronation party would cost about US $ 400 per person for local residents, while foreign visitors would have to pay about US $ 1,000. The cost of the ticket for the finals included all meals accompanied by champagne. The evening’s show would feature a welcome cocktail, the finale with a mixed Seychelles and Brazil cabaret show, and the coronation of the new Miss World, followed by the coronation party. The contest, which was to be broadcast live to about one billion viewers around the world, would be at 10 p.m. local time to coincide with peak TV time in Europe. On the other hand, tickets for the Miss Photogenic night and Fashion Show would cost US $ 200 per person and also included all food and drinks. That night would feature an international fashion show where Miss World contestants would parade exotic collections from Indian and South African designers. Reservations would be made at the Miss World offices in the Seychelles. Show organizers said: “This show is one of a kind and we are putting a lot of special things into it to make it a memorable experience. However, we are giving a special price to Seychelles people so that they can enjoy an event that takes place in their own land, for them and for the rest of the world”.

MISS WORLD 1997 STARTS IN LONDON.-

                The 91 contestants, along with Eirini Skliva, the 1996 Miss World from Greece, were due to meet in London at the end of October for a charity event before flying to Mahe on a special Air Seychelles flight. Therefore, October 27, 28 and 29 were the scheduled days for all of them to arrive in London. Although 93 girls had been elected in their respective countries, two of them had declined their participation a couple of months before the rally. Miss MACEDONIA (Adrijana Acevska) and Miss TAHITI (Hinano Teanotoga) apologized for various reasons. The organizers in Macedonia decided not to send their representative after debuting the previous year with an excellent candidate who passed without pain or glory and those in Tahiti decided that, starting this year, Miss Tahiti would not be sent to Miss World but to participate in the Miss France contest as before. Of the 91 remaining, Miss BANGLADESH, who was elected rather late, had visa problems, as did Miss SRI LANKA, a franchise that was in the hands of a new organization as of this year. For the opening press conference and the charity lunch, 78 of the 89 scheduled contestants arrived in London as there were several candidates who would arrive somewhat delayed just before boarding for the Seychelles and others who would arrive directly to the islands. Upon arriving in the British capital, the young contestants were received and lodged at the Hilton hotel in Park Lane, where they were also photographed for the program book. Miss Venezuela had a setback before her trip to the United Kingdom, and it was that she wanted to go to New York to buy jewelry for Miss World but her American visa was denied.

                On Thursday, October 30, a press conference was held at the Hilton hotel in Park Lane where all the contestants, who had arrived in the British capital up to that moment, appeared. The 78 Misses posed individually for the British media before going to the charity luncheon organized by the Variety Club International at the nearby Grosvenor House hotel in London, where the Miss United Kingdom had been celebrated months before. The auction of the national gift that each of the contestants brought from their home countries was commanded by Eric Morley and was co-organized by the Seychelles. The proceeds would go to two charitable trusts: the Variety Club of Great Britain to help underprivileged children, and the Outward Bound Trust to enable underprivileged youth to attend courses that help them discover that they have potential far beyond what they had previously believed. There are Outward Bound centers all over the world and thousands of young people have benefited in this way. The Variety Club of Great Britain was part of Variety Clubs International, which through its Lifeline program had provided medical aid to thousands of children around the world, mainly for major surgeries in hospitals in the US, UK, Israel and Australia. In one operation, 200 young people underwent cleft lip and palate operations in Sri Lanka for two consecutive years. In all, more than $ 150 million had been raised and distributed.

                This inaugural event was not attended by the expected representatives of Bosnia & Herzegovina, Cyprus, Gibraltar, Iceland, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Namibia, Nigeria, Swaziland, Ukraine and Zambia. Another who was absent was the reigning Miss World, the Greek Eirini Skliva. Featured gifts included Miss Seychelles, Michelle Lane, who offered a beautiful painting by artist Michael Adams and a model of La Marine’s ship, courtesy of Mr. Jean Louis Marchesseau. For their part, Air Seychelles and the Hotel Plantation Club, the official airline and hotel of the event respectively, also offered a Pearl Class vacation package to be auctioned. Lunch guests were also able to view an eight-minute video of the Seychelles and each received a copy of the late Mohammed Amin’s book “A Journey through Seychelles” with a special message from the islands’ president, France Albert René. In the end they managed to raise more than £ 25,000 at the auction.

                Thus, Miss World 1997 was officially opened with the presence of the Seychelles vice president, James Michel and a delegation from that country, as well as British dignitaries, a strong contingent of media and tour operators from the United Kingdom promoting the Seychelles. Also present were representatives of The Dolphin Group, Block Hotels and United Touring Company, international sponsors of this year’s event. The contestants stayed in London for three more days in which they took the opportunity to go shopping and get to know the most emblematic tourist places of the city, before traveling to the Seychelles. In those days prior to the trip, seven more contestants (Bosnia & Herzegovina, Cyprus, Gibraltar, Ukraine, Namibia, Lebanon and Zambia) arrived in London for a total of 85, who would board a special Air Seychelles flight on the afternoon of Sunday, November 2, heading to paradise in the Indian Ocean, accompanied by Eric and Julia Morley, and Gilbert Pool representing the organizers of the event in Seychelles. In a statement issued from London, Mr. Pool said: “It was a very successful launch and the interest from the media was greater than we expected. I think they were very excited about the idea of ​​Miss World going back to nature and the We are giving the pageant a strong fashion accent. It will be the most glamorous fashion show in the world set in the lush vegetation of the Seychelles”. According to Mr. Pool, the organizers of this year’s pageant were doing their best to give the event a sense of nature and ecotourism.

                Meanwhile, in Seychelles, organizers had upgraded the facilities in Bois de Rose and set up offices at the Plantation Club from where all production for the event would run. In fact, Saturday was an occasion for the welcoming ceremony to hold a rehearsal on site. In high spirits and defying the scorching afternoon heat, the welcoming team and traditional group of “Happy Islanders” who would provide the music, had an idea of what things would be like upon the arrival of the Misses.

JULIA MORLEY IS ROBBED.-

                Julia Morley had £ 170,000 worth of valuable gems stolen from her office. The 14 jewels were in a bag that was to be taken to the Seychelles, where the Miss World ’97 final would take place. Ms Morley, who offered a reward of £ 10,000 for her treasure, said: “It is a very sad thing for me. I had packed my suitcase for the flight and put all my personal valuables there”. Thieves raided the office in Golden Square in central London on Tuesday, October 28.

ARRIVAL IN SEYCHELLES.-

                For the first time in the commercial passenger airline business, an international flight would disembark its passengers on the sand to welcome them with a tropical beach party. The historic occasion was on Monday, November 3, when a scheduled Air Seychelles flight from Gatwick Airport brought the contestants from this year’s Miss World to the Seychelles after about 12 hours of flying time. A few minutes before the Air Seychelles plane landed, some 30 boys and girls wrapped in colorful sarongs were already grouped in a circle on the small beach near the southern end of the runway, while in the middle, a small group of muscle men dressed in colorful sleeveless ‘vests’ waited to serve fresh coconut water to the most beautiful women in the world. Folk troupe “Happy Islanders” was already cheering with some popular sega tunes, starting with Jean Ally’s “Labote Mon Pei”. The Air Seychelles Boeing 767-200 ER touched down in Mahe at 12:45 p.m. on Monday, November 3, after a delay of an hour and a half, with the beautiful participants accompanied by the owners of Miss World, Eric and Julia Morley. All immigration formalities were done during the flight, so no one had to worry about after landing. About ten minutes after the plane rolled onto the beach, the door opened and it was to cheers and cheers that the contestants disembarked for the grand welcome party, accompanied by Eric and Julia Morley from the Miss World Organization, as well as Mr. Gilbert Pool, local coordinator of Public Relations and Communications of the contest.

               Speaking to reporters, Civil Aviation Director General Gilbert Faure explained that the special 75-meter by 25-meter asphalt wing had been built by the Ground Transportation Division, while United Concrete Products Services (UCPS) had been involved in the cleaning of the reinforced rock and the collection of several sand mounds that were used to “extend” the small beach to the newly enlarged asphalt wing. This allowed the contestants to literally step onto the beach the moment they left the plane’s ladder. From the moment the Air Seychelles flight landed, the police, as well as security personnel and DCA were on hand to make sure the ceremony ran smoothly. Faure said the runway was temporarily closed and domestic flights had to be rescheduled.

                Miss Seychelles was the first of the contestants to go down the steps of the plane, followed by Miss American Virgin Islands and the rest of the girls, in alphabetical order. At the foot of the stairs was the Minister of Tourism and Transport, Ms Simone de Comarmond, to officially greet the candidates one by one, after which the contestants were escorted to the beach for a small party. Ms. de Comarmond thanked everyone who had tried so hard to make the welcome event exceptional. It didn’t take long for the contagious sounds of sega rhythms and the charm and warmth of the boys and girls from the welcoming committee to reach the contestants as they danced to the music. Once the participants got off the plane, a group of Seychellois children, dressed in island costumes and accompanied by local folk musicians, accompanied them to the seashore, where they were served fresh coconut water. “I can’t hold back the tears. Everything is so beautiful,” declared a happy Miss Malaysia, with a few tears still shining in her eyes as they caught the sun. “I already feel like I can live here forever,” said Miss Greece. “The place is so beautiful.” “Frankly, I could never have imagined such a welcome. When I return, I will tell everyone,” said Miss Ireland. As for Miss Thailand, the tropical welcome was more than she bargained for, especially after coming from the cold London weather. Miss Cyprus said that she had heard of Seychelles before, but going there was like a dream come true.

                For most of the Miss World ’97 contestants, the unique tropical welcome they received at Seychelles International Airport was far beyond their wildest dreams. While many had heard of the Seychelles, experiencing the island’s “breathtaking natural beauty” and the “warmth and charm” of its people for the first time in their lives would be something that would be forever etched in their hearts. The perfect setting to relax after a long flight from London! For his part, Eric Morley said that the candidates were looking forward to their arrival in Seychelles and Mr. Pool said that the welcome was exceptional and moving. When the high tide comes, the footprints of the beauties on the small beach will disappear, but the memories of this beach party will surely remain in their minds for a long time. After the party, the Miss World delegation boarded the air-conditioned limousines and minibuses via Pointe La Rue and headed to the Plantation Club, the official Miss World 1997 hotel.

Peru, Puerto Rico, Chile and Colombia

                Children from the five district schools en route from the airport to the hotel lined the roadside to give the girls a warm Seychellois welcome. Two hundred and seventy-four excited Cascade Elementary School students were among the first to give Miss World contestants their first taste of the island’s friendly welcome outside the airport. As soon as the Misses appeared, the children, dressed in their green uniforms that matched the much-publicized green of the islands, began to sing happily, welcoming the young women to “Seychelles, our paradise.” The children, who had waited patiently for more than an hour, were not disappointed because from the windows of their buses, the beauties greeted with enthusiasm and offered the best of their smiles to the young Seychelles children, who shouted “Miss World”, still happier. Along the way, a similar welcome awaited the guests. At Anse Aux Pins, Pointe La Rue and Anse Royale, the children gave them an identical reception by singing the same recital with the same sharpness and sweet unison, with their tender and sweet voices. The children sang in Creole, French, and English, but according to 12-year-old Steve Dubel, they had taken the precaution of learning to say welcome in Spanish, Latin, and other languages ​​as well, a point confirmed by the fact that the flags the children waved actually had the word “welcome” written in a variety of languages. Cascade School Principal Josianne Azemia confirmed that the children had been eager to do what they seemed to consider a noble and patriotic duty since morning.

               The scene at the Plantation Club was even more interesting, where 93 children from the Baie Lazare school paraded carrying bouquets of flowers, collected from their own gardens, to present to international visitors. At the head were Venice Adeline and Nelson Libanotis, who offered their bouquets to the owner and the president of the Miss World Organization, Eric Morley and his wife Julia. After that, it was left for the Seychellois, barely ten, but certainly kind and brave, to guide their “older sisters” to the hotel. With everyone watching, a mutual understanding quickly emerged between the beauty queens and their little guides. When the contestants were slow to offer their kisses, the children did and vice versa. When the beauty queens ‘hands were full of luggage, the little boys quickly grabbed the girls’ hands of their own volition, while other contestants, each eager not to interrupt the flow, gently urged the schoolchildren to take their hands. Some of the children even tried to help with the luggage. The beauty queens quickly struck up friendly conversations with them, which almost always began with the contestants asking for the children’s names. All the girls, happy and sometimes bewildered, were safely taken to their hotel for a break they all seemed to need after a day of partying and traveling.

                Meanwhile, at the Plantation Club, preparations were underway for various events, including the grand gala on November 22. That week, work continued on an old house on the grounds where the fashion show would take place, which would eventually host that event instead of the Berjaya Mahe Beach Resort. Elsewhere coconut trees were being transplanted into a swamp near where the stage for the finals is to be built. A dressing room had already been built for the contestants and sand had also been deposited in a field where a tent will be set up for the show, which will be attended by about 800 guests. Gilbert Pool, who accompanied the Miss World delegation on the historic flight from London, said: “Besides fresh tuna, Seychelles’ biggest export is our hospitality and our smiles. What better way to welcome the 90 potential ambassadors for our islands”. “Everyone on the islands is excited about this event taking place here and everyone is doing their best to make it a memorable event, a showcase of Seychelles to the outside world,” he added.

 FILMING BEGINS.-

                With the lush vegetation of Mahe and the dazzling white sand beaches as a backdrop, the photographic and pre-filming sessions for Miss World ’97 began on Tuesday, November 4 and would last until Saturday the 8th. the turquoise sea in Intendance, South Mahe, the evocative spice gardens of the Jardin du Roi in Anse Royale and the Creole architecture of the Craft Village in Val de Pres were some of the backgrounds in which the contestants filmed. These photographic and video sessions were part of the television package that would be broadcast to the one billion people around the world who were expected to watch the grand finale on TV.

                Meanwhile, Vice President James Michel put a stamp of approval on the progress of the work in preparation for the prestigious final of Miss World 1997 on Wednesday, November 5. “I am very satisfied with what I have seen today… I think we are in the objective, everyone is working very hard”, he told about 14 local and international media after taking a tour of the Hotel Plantation Club. He said that Seychelles was proud to be able to organize such an event and perhaps others in the future as well. He was asked if he had already picked a winner, to which he replied, “Last year Miss Greece stood to my right and I told her she would win, and she did … but no, I haven’t picked one yet this time”. The vice president spent almost an hour touring the facilities, including the stage where the final would take place, the Val Mer room that had been transformed into the participants’ restaurant, the electronic media production center, the administration offices, press, production, transportation, security, the medical room and the executive producer’s office. He was greeted in the stage area by Eric Morley. Morley told the media that the Miss World ’97 event seemed to be the best so far, especially because of the great welcome on Monday. “In the 47 years that we have been celebrating Miss World, this is the first time that no luggage has been lost, it is a world record,” he said, adding that he attributed it to the good organizing team and Air Seychelles.

                Executive producer Francis Savy told the “Seychelles Nation” newspaper that the set-up of the set had begun on Friday, October 31, and that it would be ready three days ahead of schedule. He hoped the stage, complete with a waterfall and artificial granite rocks, would be ready by Monday the 10th, in time for rehearsals scheduled for November 12-15. He said seats for the final would be outdoors, but tents would be set up in case it rained, while umbrellas would also be distributed to Miss World guests. He also said that filming for around 60 of the beauties had been completed in just two days. On Thursday, November 6, a photo session was held with the candidates on the nearby beaches and on Saturday, November 8, Miss SWAZILAND (Xoliswa Mkhonta) finally managed to arrive after overcoming problems with her visa. It was further confirmed that Miss ICELAND (Harpa Lind Hardarsdottir) would no longer arrive. In addition to money problems, Icelandic directors had ‘punished’ her for abruptly leaving the Miss Europe contest in Ukraine because certain unpleasant incidents had occurred. But the Miss World organizers were still waiting for two girls who were also having visa difficulties. However, Miss NIGERIA (Adanma Evoh) and Miss KAZAKHSTAN (Zhamilya Bicembieva) did not finally make it to the pageant, so the official number of contestants was 86.

THE SPONSORS.-

                The Block Hotels of Dolphin Group, Africa’s leading hotel chain, and United Travel Company (UTC), which was the world’s largest safari tour operator, were the main sponsors of this year’s Miss World beauty pageant. This was revealed to local media on Wednesday, November 5, by Mr. Jeffrey Zorn, senior vice president and executive personal assistant to the president and CEO of the Dolphin Group companies. Mr. Zorn described the sponsorship of the event by the Dolphin Group as an opportunity to demonstrate their continued commitment to the development of the Seychelles and its tourism resources. He referenced a five-star luxury hotel that the Dolphin Group planned to build in Beau Vallon.

                Commenting on the Dolphin Group’s association with this year’s Miss World pageant and the Seychelles eco-style approach in organizing the event, Zorn said the Group was a strong advocate for ecotourism, where resources were not abused but rather that were used to the maximum extent possible for everyone to benefit: the community, wildlife, the tourism industry, and similar. “We see Seychelles as a place where you can make a long-term investment because the region itself is a paradise, the people are wonderful and friendly and I think everyone will be interested in supporting the development of their country,” he added. For its part, UTC was recognized as a leading destination management company in Eastern and Southern Africa and was the world’s largest safari tour operator. The Dolphin Group, which was sponsoring this year’s Miss World pageant, expressed its confidence in the Government and the future of Seychelles, and that they had plans to invest more in that country. This was expressed by the president and CEO of Block Hotels and UTC’s parent company, Dolphin Group, Mr. Ketan Somaia, who revealed that 30 other companies that were potential investors were being invited and were also capable of promoting the Seychelles. Somaia said that Block Hotels and UTC had been very active in promoting ecotourism, adding that it was a responsibility of the tourism industry not only to help the development of host economies, but also to ensure the preservation and enhancement of local culture and environment. Also part of the event sponsors were the Seychelles Ministry of Tourism, Air Seychelles, the Plantation Club Resort & Casino, MG Labs, Lauren-Perrier, DHL, Tom Bowers, Michael Adams, Beith Digital, Nikon, Grundig, Wella, Kryolan , Carlton International and Sky One.

SELECTED LOCAL ARTIST FOR THE FINALS OF MISS WORLD.-

                Jany de Letourdie’s popular song “Tambour” was selected for the Miss World finals, as revealed on Friday, November 7. Jany was chosen as the only singer from Seychelles to perform in the beauty pageant on November 22 after the production team of both South Africa and Seychelles identified “Tambour” as the song that best captures the magic of that spectacular night. “Tambour”, which appeared on Jany’s first CD titled “Fanm”, is a typical Seychellois moutian tune and, depending on the production team that chose it, the song is visual and sensational, representing the local environment and real culture. For the finale, Jany would be accompanied by a local ‘ensemble’ comprised of 20 drummers, eight dancers, four backup singers, and three guitarists. Upon receiving the confirmation of her selection, Jany, who is also a theater actress and playwright, said: “I am going to do my best. It is an encouragement for my hard work and effort put into music,” she happily told the press after it was announced that she had been chosen as the only local vocalist to perform at the prestigious Miss World pageant. However, Jany said that she would have liked to see more local artists performing that night.

TICKETS SOLD OUT.-

                Tickets for the Miss World final and coronation party at the Plantation Club Hotel had been sold out, organizers said on Saturday, November 8. However, attempts were being made to reduce the number of tickets allocated to foreign visitors so that more Seychellois would have the opportunity to attend the event. As for Miss Photogenic, which was originally scheduled for November 12 at the Jolie Rose Restaurant in Intendance, but which was moved for the 15th at the Plantation Club Hotel, together with the Fashion Show, 512 places had been enabled and the tickets were still available. Reservations were being made at the Miss World offices at the Plantation Club. 800 seats had been set up for the finals, most of them for Seychellois. 200 had been allocated for the contestants’ parents, their directors and journalists, while about 50 had been reserved for guests from both the government and other organizations.

AN ECOLOGICAL MISS WORLD.-

                The next big thing before the grand finale on November 22nd was the tree planting on Intendance Beach by the contestants on Sunday November 9th, followed by a children’s beach party on the same day. Seventy-seven beauty queens from around the world delivered an ecological message as they helped Seychelles combat the scourge of Takamaka tree disease by participating in the coastal replanting program on Intendance beach, south of Mahe. It was probably the first time since the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1990 that representatives from so many different countries gathered for a tree planting ceremony in an effort to promote the environment. The message was clear: Seychelles took the issue of environmental protection seriously. The disease was killing the Takamaka trees that had been protecting the environment from marine erosion for so long. The coastal replanting program was an effort to replace dying trees with other species. Children from local orphanages (President’s Village, Foyer de Nazareth and St Elizabeth) and the National Council for Children, helped the beauties plant young trees of the species bonnen kare, bois rose and bois blanc. Each beauty queen and a child planted a tree, and at the end of the ceremony, 77 new trees were planted on the Intendance beach.

                The symbolic ceremony that began around noon under a benign sky after a light drizzle, represented the regeneration of an ideal environment for future generations around the world, according to the Miss World organizers. Vice President James Michel, who was also Minister of the Environment, noted that each of the Miss World contestants was leaving her mark in Seychelles on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. “If you come back from vacation, visit the tree and see how it is progressing,” he said. He added that, on the Seychelles’ side, he would take good care of the trees and ensure that the children visit the site as often as possible. The first tree was planted by Miss Seychelles, Michelle Lane, along with the vice president. The second was planted by the president of the Miss World Organization, Eric Morley. For some of the beauties, this was their first time handling a shovel and planting a tree. Later, during the lemon juice sodas served on coconuts at the nearby Jolie Rose restaurant, it was also the first time that some of the beauties had a taste of coconut pulp. The message they brought was eco-friendly, and they wore light green T-shirts, with the words “Coastal Replanting Program” engraved on the back and a small red “poppy” flower pinned to the front.

                Apart from that uniformity, the beauties were different each in their own style. Miss Lebanon, for example, wore black high-heeled knee-high boots. Some arrived in miniskirts, others in shorts and others in jeans like Miss Hong Kong, Miss Taiwan and Miss Singapore. While 77 of the beauties were doing their part for the environment, another 9 were on Praslin Island for filming. The beauties seemed to be in good spirits, and before catching their buses back to the Plantation Club where a beach barbecue awaited them, they had a polka dance with the kids at the Jolie Rose. The barbecue in the gardens adjacent to the hotel restaurant was an occasion for the beauties to entertain the most disadvantaged children. Earlier in the morning, some 40 contestants, including Miss Seychelles, attended Sunday Mass at St. François Catholic Church in Baie Lazare, along with the district congregation.

PRESENTERS AND INTERNATIONAL GUEST SINGER ANNOUNCED.-

                The Miss World’s press office in Seychelles announced on Tuesday, November 11, that South African fashion editor and broadcaster Khanyi Dhlomo-Mkhize and American actor Richard Steinmetz would host the November 22 finals. Twenty-four-year-old Khanyi Dhlomo-Mkhize was also a renowned model and presenter. Her association with South Africa’s M-Net had led her to host the 69th Academy Awards for a Los Angeles channel. In October 1997, she was voted the best dressed woman in South Africa. In addition to a vibrant broadcasting career, Khanyi was the editor for two years of “True Love” magazine, South Africa’s most widely read magazine for young, modern and upwardly mobile black women. As for Richard Steinmetz, recognized for his participation in “Batman Forever”, this was the fourth time in a row that he hosted the contest. At the same press conference, it was announced that the international singer invited for the finals was the Puerto Rican Ricky Martín, 25, with his famous song “María” with which he had reached first place in all of Europe. Since he started as a soloist, Ricky Martin had become one of the most popular artists not only in Latin America but also in the US. It was also known that more than 90 tons of equipment, mainly lighting that would be used for the Miss World ’97 final, were transferred to the country on Monday night.

This was the last year Richard Steinmetz hosted the contest after 4 years in a row.

BEAUTY WITH A PURPOSE.-

                Tuesday, November 11, was a day of excitement and joy, as well as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for hundreds of schoolchildren throughout most of Mahe when the Miss World ’97 contestants visited their schools. The beauties were divided into four groups of about twenty girls each and each group visited different schools in one of the four regions of Mahe, namely the west (Anse Boileau, Grand Anse, as well as the President’s Village), east and south. (Cascade, Pointe La Rue, Anse aux Pins, Anse Royale and Baie Lazare), central (English River, Bel Eau, Plaisance Primary, School for the Exceptional Child) and north (Beau Vallon, Glacis, as well as the Rehabilitation Center) . However, due to time constraints, the initial program had to be adjusted slightly at the last minute, while some planned site visits had to be canceled entirely. At each school the beauties visited, a warm and enthusiastic welcome awaited them. While some students lined the entrance of their school to welcome the contestants, others waited expectantly along the corridors and balconies, waving effusively and cheering as the air-conditioned buses carrying the beauties pulled up to the school grounds. An equally emotional farewell was reserved for the contestants when they left the schools.

                During their stop at each school, which lasted about half an hour, the beauties visited various classrooms where classes were in progress and had a short chat with both the teachers and the students. However, a special mention should be made to the students of the School for Exceptional Children for truly living up to their school’s name in every sense of the word. In fact, their way of welcoming the beauties was special and exceptional. In line along the corridor, some in wheelchairs, each one had a garland of flowers with which they greeted and welcomed their guests, who were visibly moved by this warm gesture of such special children. Most of the contestants said they had a great time getting to know the children and described the experience as exciting.

SEYCHELLES PRESIDENT’S BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION.-

              “Seychelles is helping to improve the image of the Miss World pageant and further enhance its status,” said the islands’ President, France Albert René on Friday, November 14. René made this comment while delivering his speech in the gardens of State House during a party organized to celebrate his 62nd birthday with some of the country’s most prominent elders. Eleven Miss World contestants also attended the party. President René said that as a result of his contribution to changing the way the Miss World beauty pageant was perceived, giving it a more positive perspective, Seychelles was writing another important chapter in its history. As a token of her appreciation for being invited to the President’s birthday party, one of the eleven Miss World contestants, Miss American Virgin Islands, Taisha Gomes, sang a personalized version of the Happy Birthday song to President René. Escorted by eleven gentlemen, mostly members of the National Assembly and District Administrators, the contestants met with elderly citizens. The eleven Miss World contestants who attended State House were Miss Brazil, Fernanda Agnes; Miss New Zealand, Lauralee Martinovich; Miss Russia, Lyudmila Popova; Miss France, Laure Belleville; Miss Malaysia, Arianna Teoh Lai Poh; Miss Tanzania, Saida Kessy; Miss Zimbabwe, Una Patel; Miss India, Diana Hayden; Miss Egypt, Amal Soliman; Miss American Virgin Islands, Taisha Gomes; and Miss Seychelles, Michelle Lane.

PREPARATIONS FOR THE FASHION SHOW.-

                The Miss World beauty pageant would take on another dimension on Saturday, November 15 when contestants celebrate the spirit of harmony and peace at an international fashion show. Preparations on site had been underway for three months to welcome this fashion show. For the past few days, a technical and creative team had been working around the clock to ensure the location was ready in time for the event. Meanwhile, the General Manager of the Plantation Club Hotel and Casino, Mr. Lionel Álvarez, said that it would be the first time that the establishment would have capacity for about 500 people, which would be the number of guests invited to the event. Typically, the largest number of customers the hotel dealt with was 400-420, and it was usually for events like New Years Eve. Preparations included the renovation of the old casino building that would serve as the backdrop for the fashion show and training of staff on both practical and psychological levels. On the subject of food for that night, Mr. Álvarez noted that the expertise of several local hotels was sought and that, together with the organizers, they had been working on a menu that was being closely monitored and improved to meet the needs of expectations of the event organizers. Although Mr. Álvarez was careful not to reveal in detail what the evening’s menu would comprise so as not to miss the element of surprise, he said it would be “typical Seychelloise.” In fact, the Creole aspect of the night was not limited to the food, as the decor and entertainment were expected to show the Seychelles culture in all its fascinating aspects.

                In front of the old casino building, a raised walkway had been built and parallel to it were steel supports, each loaded with colored lights. White canvas tents were also set up, apparently to provide shelter in case it rained during the fashion show. However, right in front, the seats continued to be placed next to the elevated path. The workers were busy leveling the soggy sections of the soil that were being hardened with additional earth pressed by a motorized roller. The upper floor of the old casino building would serve as a dressing room from which the participants would exit and descend two flights of stairs that led to the catwalk. Behind the building, catering facilities had been arranged where meals would be prepared. On the other hand, a team with the best Indian and South African designers had come together to put on a show appropriate for the occasion, giving the audience a taste of what would be the grand finale. The show titled “Fragrances” and choreographed by Lubna Adam from India was sponsored by Cineblitz, a film magazine from Dolphin Media Group Publication. It took place in the ‘Plantation House’ at the entrance of the Plantation Club Resort hotel. In a fitting tribute to both the pageant and the islands, the event organizers said that the international Fashion Show would celebrate the spirit of joy and freedom that was so representative of the Seychelles. They said that although the textiles, colors, textures and silhouettes used by the designers had their roots in India and South Africa, they created a truly international look. “The collections are inspired as much by the richness and diversity of textiles and crafts as by the beauty and splendor of the Seychelles,” said Lubna Adam. A spokesperson for local organizers added that the show was staged as a preparation for the Grand Final and that, hopefully, the proceeds would go to charitable social causes.

FASHION SHOW-MISS PHOTOGENIC.-

                Guests, including Vice President James Michel, began arriving at 6:45 p.m. and they were greeted by smiling ushers, dressed in multi-colored traditional coats, who lined the driveway that led to the venue. Each of the nearby coconut trees was adorned with hundreds of lights producing a magical effect against the dark background of the night. A similar effect was achieved, this time with the dark sky as the background when the leaves of other adjacent trees were generously illuminated by hidden electric lamps. A local group, the Soulmates Jazz Quartet, entertained the guests as they entered. Powerful streaks of colored lights formed impressive patterns at the Plantation House, where guests kept their expectant eyes focused.

                The fashion show itself began at 7:40 p.m. with the appearance of the first group of 86 Miss World contestants who modeled for the first designer, who apparently had wildlife in mind because of the outfit the young women wore; it had patterns reminiscent of the spotted leopard or the reticulated giraffe. The show was one of the best international fashion events held in Seychelles. The clothes for different occasions and tastes were designed by a team of the best Indian and South African designers and were worn with grace and elegance by the Miss World contestants. The Creole environment gave them an even more special appeal.

                The clothing was designed by Sinuate Shankar, Rajesh Pratap Singh, Omana (Kavita Bhartia), Gitanjali Kashyap, Bhairavi Jaikishan, Rohit Bal, Madhu Jain Raghavendra Rathore, Monisha Jaising and Wendell Rodricks from India with Marianne Fassler from South Africa showing off her Leopard Frock collection. At the end of the show, the Miss World contestants were individually introduced by Stephen Morley to the guests who responded with applause and Miss Seychelles received the loudest standing ovation. Overall, the participants felt at home, relaxed and with smiles that seemed to come more from inner joy than from practice. After the show, at around 9 pm, the guests and participants enjoyed a Creole barbecue buffet and the “Happy Islanders” with their Moutian melodies, adding another dimension to the night with traditional music and dances. At 10:30 p.m., the Indian singer Sukhbar Singh played some songs and the local group Mercury ended the evening with dance music. Members of the local and international press were called to determine who should be chosen Miss Photogenic among the 86 Miss World contestants who participated in this fashion show. This was confirmed shortly before the event began by Mr. Gilbert Pool who, however, said that the decision would not be made until the end of that week, since a section of the international press had yet to arrive in the country. Taking the opportunity to make an impression, some contestants mingled with journalists and photographers and tried to build rapport with them. Some even brought photographs of themselves that they offered to journalists, introducing themselves to them. Shortly after the event, the contestants dined with the guests and members of the media.

                The Miss Photogenic event, which was part of Miss World 1997, was sponsored by Cineblizt and was therefore titled “the Cineblizt Miss Photogenic 1997 event”. Commenting on this, Mr. Karl Mehta, Managing Director of Cineblitz, said: “We are proud to participate in the sponsorship of the Miss Photogenic 1997 pageant and we are delighted to present the winner with a spectacular one-of-a-kind Baccarat crystal trophy along with a £ 3,000 cash prize”. When journalists asked why Cineblizt had chosen to sponsor the event, Mr. Mehta said that the pre-event was a curtain-opening act for the Miss World pageant, sponsored by Cineblizt’s international partners, the Dolphin Group, as part of the Group’s commitment to promote the paradisiacal islands of the Seychelles. He said the Dolphin Group was a diversified multinational group with interests in leisure and tourism, banking, industry, the media, agriculture and commerce. He added that the Group was committed to the philosophy that companies had a responsibility to contribute to the economic development of a country and to the conservation of the environment. Mr. Mehta added that few other events could provide as instantaneous global exposure as the Miss World pageant would. He said that, being the Seychelles the paradise that it is, it did not require more publicity, but his wife refuted this saying that Miss World would undoubtedly open the Seychelles more to the world. Ms. Mehta is the editor of “Cineblitz”, India’s best-selling biweekly film magazine with a circulation of 250,000,000 copies.

EIRINI SKLIVA’S ARRIVAL.-

                The reigning Miss World, Eirini Skilva of Greece, arrived in Seychelles on Monday, November 17 to crown her successor the following Saturday. On the same Air Seychelles flight where Miss World 1996 arrived was Kimberley Hill, Miss World 1980 from Guam. Ms. Hill arrived to serve as a judge in the finals on Saturday. Miss World, Eirini Skliva, said that she was very happy to be in Seychelles and commented that, apart from Spain, Seychelles was the only other destination of the many to which she had traveled and that she found particularly pleasant. When asked if her predecessor gave her any advice on how to carry out the responsibilities that accompanied the Miss World title, Eirini said that she did not receive any and that she also had nothing to say to the lady who was going to replace her on Saturday. “She will find out for herself,” said the beauty queen, adding that the situations she would face would likely be different and therefore unpredictable. Both Kimberley and Eirini said that traveling a lot had marked their routines as Miss World, adding that they couldn’t remember the many places they had been. Ms. Hill said that the title holder had to be an energetic person and, as a judge, she would be looking out for the girl who has “that something else.” She said that she had served on the jury twice before, and said that she would be ‘kind to young girls’ when judging. The ladies were accompanied by the Indian pop singer, Sukhbir, who said that he had rearranged one of his folk songs to suit the performance at the pageant, and was eager to surprise Saturday at the coronation ball.

THE JUDGES’ PERSONALITIES ANNOUNCED.-

                On Tuesday, November 18, the names of the panel of nine judges made up of renowned people were announced, some of whom had already participated as judges of previous pageants and who would determine who of the 86 beauty queens in the pageant should be crowned Miss World 1997. This information was released by the Presidential Advisor Gilbert J. Pool, who is the Director of Public Relations and Communications for the event. Pool said the contest could have between nine and eleven judges, but given the conflicting schedules of other potential judges, Saturday’s event would have only nine. Some of the expected judges, particularly from the fashion and film industries, were unable to attend for other reasons, including the flight connection. (See presentation of the judges below). That Tuesday the customary “Miss World Family Party” was held at the Plantation Club, a traditional English Christmas dinner for the contestants and where some of them enlivened the evening with an unofficial talent show.

FORMER PRESIDENT OF SEYCHELLES AGREES TO BE A JUDGE.-

                The former president and leader of the opposition, Sir James Mancham, said that he had accepted the Government’s nomination to be the representative of Seychelles in the panel of judges to elect Miss World 1997. He also announced that he would donate to the St. Elizabeth Orphanage the 25 percent commission from Dolphin Group, the holding company that is the international sponsor of the beauty pageant. Mr. Mancham made these announcements during a press interview in his office of the National Assembly on Tuesday, November 18. Explaining the origin of his commission with the Dolphin Group, he said that as a special associate of this leisure conglomerate, which was well established in the tourism sector of the region, it was agreed that he would receive a 25 percent commission for each sponsorship he helped to the group to be hired. Referring to a letter dated October 17 in which the business group claimed it would receive the 25 percent commission under the agreement, Mancham said the money would be donated to the aforementioned orphanage. Although he was unable to indicate the exact amount that would amount to the commission, Mr. Mancham noted that since he thought that the Dolphin Group’s sponsorship package amounted to “hundreds and hundreds of thousands of rupees”, the 25% commission would go down to be a significant sum. In the same interview, Mancham, who had already been a judge of Miss World in 1975, revealed that the Seychelles Government had nominated him as a judge to be part of the panel that was to choose Miss World 1997 on Saturday, November 22 at the hotel Plantation Club. He also said that the Miss World organizers had informed him of the Government’s choice and he accepted it, interpreting it as a “good gesture on the part of the Government.”

SEYCHELLES DID NOT PAY BROADCASTING RIGHTS.-

                Seychelles, by hosting Miss World 1997, would not have to pay television rights to broadcast the event live on November 22. Meanwhile, a notice posted outside the Miss World final event venue stated that no electronic media equipment would be allowed on site in the final and that television stations wishing to purchase images from the pageant were to contact the Managing Director of the South African company Upton International before noon on Saturday. However, Greg Upton said that the Seychelles, being the host country, would not have to pay, and the Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) could take advantage of the signals directly from the satellite. Speaking to local press yesterday, Upton said that other countries would pay for footage according to their respective sizes. For example, while some countries would pay only $ 1,500, some would have to remit $ 60,000 for the two-hour broadcast. Upton said that while he had 24 eight-ton television crews that SBC would not be required to directly participate in, the local television station had been a great help up to that point.

                Upton said that the equipment had to be brought in because the equipment available in the country did not have the capacity to push signals to the satellites and that the location of Seychelles in relation to the relay satellites was a bit strange because they were directly over the country, and the signals would have to be transmitted a bit from below, unlike the usual tangential dish to the plane of the satellite. For that reason, engineers were still trying to see which satellite would produce the best results. A total of 176 countries, as opposed to the less than 100 that had received the live broadcast of the contest in recent years, would take advantage of the coverage this year, which in effect would reach an estimated 1.6 billion viewers. The Director of Upton International confirmed that the major stations in the United States did not intend to subscribe, but one of the smaller cable stations in the southern United States did. While admitting that Seychelles would not derive direct income from live television coverage, Upton said the country would gain the most through international exposure and the marketing effect of it, adding that the promotional packages representing Seychelles, and which had been filmed continuously since the international press arrived in Seychelles, would undoubtedly be of great commercial value to the country.

OFFICIAL PRESS PRESENTATION.-

                Members of the local and international press freely mixed, interviewed and photographed the 86 contestants of Miss World 1997 within the facilities of the Plantation Club Hotel and Casino on Thursday, November 20, in the morning hours. Members of the media also filled out a form indicating their choice of who they thought should be voted Miss Photogenic, as well as two finalists. The interaction, which began near the pool, led contestants and journalists on walks that ended on the rocks by the beach and elsewhere within the hotel grounds, where the beauty queens posed for photographs alone or in groups. Most of them felt that reaching the Seychelles had been quite an achievement, acknowledging that the competition was very tough as only one of the 86 girls would be crowned in the finals. They said they had already accomplished a lot, having beaten dozens of other female candidates in their national finals. In the words of one of the girls, they had nothing to lose by saying that they were all winners. While some said they already knew a few things about Seychelles, many said they were overwhelmed not only by the beauty of the islands, but even more by its people. Miss Finland, Minna Lehtinen, described Seychellois as the kindest people she had ever met, saying that she expected a tropical paradise, and “this really is.” Aspiring cardiologist Kristine Florendo from the Philippines said she felt at home surrounded by beaches and palm trees. One contestant who received universal recognition from the girls was Miss Seychelles, Michelle Lane, whom they described as an excellent tour guide who tirelessly answered all of her questions.

Miss UK

CONTESTANTS INFORMATION.-

               Venezuelan Christina Dieckman Jiménez, 20, was a veteran of beauty pageants in Caracas. In 1992 she competed in the Chica 2001 contest that Jacqueline Aguilera (Miss World ’95) won and where she did not qualify, and then she participated in the 1994 Miss Beauty where she was the first runner-up, before entering Miss Venezuela. For her and her country, beauty pageants were a national passion. “Brazil has its football, we have our Misses,” said Dieckmann. Miss Bosnia & Herzegovina, Elma Terzic, 17, was 12 when the war broke out in the Balkans and she hated anything that had to do with politics. Being one of the youngest contestants in the competition, she left Bosnia for the first time to come to the competition in Seychelles. The 6 foot-one inch tall aspiring actress said she immediately became friends with fellow former Yugoslavia contestants Martina Novosel from Croatia, Maja Simec from Slovenia and Tamara Saponjic from Yugoslavia. Miss Australia and Miss Namibia competed together in the 1997 Miss Universe in Miami and Miss France had competed in the ’96 Miss Universe in Las Vegas. Miss Estonia participated in the Queen of the Year ’97, the Austrian in the Queen of the World ’97 and the Guatemalan in the International Coconut Queen ’95 where she was 3rd. runner-up. On her side, the Czech had been 2nd. runner-up in the Queen of the Year ’94 and 3rd. runner-up in Miss Tourism International ’93. In that same event, but in 1996, Miss Cyprus participated. Miss Colombia and Miss Costa Rica competed in the International Coffee Queen ’97, qualifying as 1st. and 2nd. Princesses respectively. This year was the debut of Cape Verde and Nepal in the contest. Here is a table with some interesting facts about each contestant:

 COUNTRYNAMEAGEDESIGNER
01AMERICAN VIRGIN ISLANDSTaisha Regina Gomes17Private Collection
02 ARGENTINANatalia Pombo22Miss Argentina
03 ARUBAMichella Laclé Croes20Jaime Arango
04 AUSTRALIALaura Csortan21Alexis George
05 AUSTRIASusanne Nagele17Tirolean Land Theatre Co.
06 BAHAMASAlveta Adderley23Percy Wallace of Grali
07 BELGIUMSandrine Corman17Stijn Helsen
08 BOLIVIAMitzy Suárez Saucedo21Consuelo Fiorillo
09 BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINAElma Terzic17Suzana Egonjic
10 BOTSWANAMpule Keneilwe Kwelagobe18Angelo John of Savvanah Creations
11 BRAZILFernanda Rambo Agnes18Alexandre Dutra
12 BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDSZoe Jenniver Walcott21Claire’s Collection
13 BULGARIASimona Nikolaeva Velitchkova17Zana Sekova
14 CANADAKeri-Lynn Power23Thomas Haffie
15 CAPE VERDECarmelinda Gonçalves22Anja Seidal
16 CAYMAN ISLANDSCassandra Powell23Lily Ruben & Henry Mutoo
17 CHILEPaulina Andrea Mladinic Zorzano17Ivan Grubessich
18 COLOMBIAGladys Buitrago Caicedo23Patricia Chávez
19 COSTA RICARebeca Escalante Trejos21José María Juneo Muñoz
20 CROATIAMartina Novosel18Dubravka Drk Mravlincic
21 CYPRUSGalatia Charalambidou18Maria Kiprianou Christou of Olyre Boutique
22 CZECH REPUBLICTerezie Dobrovolna22Libena Rochova
23 DOMINICAN REPUBLICCarolina Estrella Peña21Aurora Díaz & José Vásquez
24 ECUADORClio Minoska Olaya Prías19Cristina Santos
25 EGYPTAmal Shawky Soliman20Youssef Spahí
26 ESTONIAMairit Roosaar19Merike Paro Bastion Co.
27 FINLANDMinna Lehtinen19Marja Liisa Penttita
28 FRANCELaure Belleville21Florent D’Acy
29 GERMANYKatja Glawe19Edwin Ben
30 GHANABenita Sena Golomeke21Winigol Fashions
31 GIBRALTARRossanna Ressa18Rose Robba
32 GREECEEvgenia Limantzaki20Theodoros Tranoulis
33 GUATEMALALourdes Mabel Valencia Bobadilla20José Carlos Arango
34 HOLLANDSonja Aldina Silva20Marissa Allen
35 HONDURASHansel Cristina Cáceres Teruel17Walder López
36 HONG KONGVivian Lee Ming-Wai21Karen Chan
37 HUNGARYBeata Petes20Susanna Imrik
38 INDIADiana Hayden24Hemant Trivedi
39 IRELANDAndrea Roche20Fiona Whyte & Fiona Whyte Designs
40 ISRAELMirit Grinberg19Gotex-Rosh
41 ITALYIrene Lippi18Krizia
42 JAMAICAMichelle Moodie24Mark McDermott & Carl Williams
43 JAPANShinobu Saraie23Hisako Yamano
44 KOREAJin-ah Kim21Jin-A Kim
45 LATVIALiga Graudumniece18Natalia Jansone
46 LEBANONJoëlle Georges Behlok18——
47 LITHUANIAAsta Vysniauskaite20Jouzas Statheviceu
48 MACAUAgnes Lo Vai-Van23Fernanda Ng
49 MALAYSIAArianna Teoh Lai Poh24Victor Goh
50 MALTASarah Vella23Ray Ashley
51 MEXICOBlanca Delfina Soto Benavides18José Luis Abarca
52 NAMIBIASheya Shipanga22Nakara
53 NEPALJharana Bajracharya Rashid16Rajani Malla Fistorela
54 NEW ZEALANDLauralee Martinovich18Barbara Lee
55 NORWAYCharlotte Hoiaasen18Johnny Enderud
56 PANAMAPatricia Aurora Bremner Hernández21Anabel Quintero
57 PARAGUAYMariela Quiñónes García19Ricardo Aquino
58 PERUClaudia María Luque Barrantes21Ricardo Dávila
59 PHILIPPINESKristine Rachel Gumabao Florendo21Bob Mackie
60 POLANDRoksana Jonek19Teresa Slonicz
61 PORTUGALIcília Silva Berenguel21Josi Carlos
62 PUERTO RICOAurea Isis Marrero Nieves22René Cruz
63 RUSSIALyudmila Mikkhailovna Popova17Natalia Uvazora
64 SEYCHELLESMichelle Lane23Micheline Feillage & Mimose Texter of Mode-Soei
65 SINGAPOREJasmine Wong Chiew Peng21Candy Tang of Om De Bridal & Studio
66 SLOVAKIAMarietta Senchakova21Jana Ceckova Signum
67 SLOVENIAMaja Simec18Stanka Blatnik
68 SOUTH AFRICAJessica Motaung24Christa B.
69 SPAINNuria Avellaneda Gallego19Eddie Gomila
70 SWAZILANDXoliswa MkhontaN.A.Sheri Hill
71 SWEDENSofia Joelsson24Lars Wallin
72 SWITZERLANDTanja Gutmann20Lisbeth Egli
73 TAIWAN R.O.C.Su-Ling Fang21Han-Chang Fang
74 TANZANIASaida Joy Kessy23Saida Kessy & Mario
75 THAILANDTanya Suesuntisook24Duangjai Bis
76 TRINIDAD & TOBAGOMandy Jagdeo21Peter Elias & Meiling
77 TURKEYCagla Sikel18Cemil Rpekci
78 UGANDALillian Erongot Acom22Harriet Wandira of Uganda Elastic
79 UKRAINEKseniya Alexandrovna Kuzmenko18Tatyana Ivaniarko
80 UNITED KINGDOMVicki-Lee Walberg22Rohit Saini
81 UNITED STATESSallie Elizabeth Toussaint23GuyRex
82 URUGUAYAna González Kwasny20Pablo Suárez
83 VENEZUELAChristina Dieckmann Jiménez20José María Almeida & Antonio Betancourt
84 YUGOSLAVIATamara Saponjic18Lidija Dobronjovski & Uno Martin
85 ZAMBIATukuza Tembo21Sarah Galaun of Umutundu Africa
86 ZIMBABWEUna Patel20Basil Kapnias & John Nkomo

FAVORITES.-

                After three weeks on the scene, Seychelles audiences were identifying their own favorites. In an informal poll among those who had been in contact with the contestants and viewers who had consistently followed them, the public gave their opinion. Here, in alphabetical order, were the ten most popular girls:

* Miss Botswana, Mpule Kwelagobe – The 17-year-old student hoped to become a surgeon one day. She likes sports, particularly swimming and athletics and she also plays in a band.

*Miss Brazil, Fernanda Agnes – The 18-year-old model was hoping to start college soon. Her hobbies include theater and she would eventually like to work in movies.

* Miss Cape Verde, Carmelinda Goncalves – The 22-year-old student speaks four languages: Portuguese, English, French and Creole. Her hobbies include karate. For those who knew her, she was the highest qualified for the Miss Personality award.

* Miss Guatemala, Lourdes Valencia Bobadilla – The 20-year-old was studying International Business and was also a professional model. Her hobbies include dancing.

* Miss India, Diana Hayden – The 24-year-old’s hobbies include horse riding, chess and music, and her ambition was to have her own record label.

* Miss Puerto Rico, Aurea Marrero Nieves – The 22-year-old was studying Business Administration and Marketing at university. She likes to swim and snorkel.

* Miss Seychelles, Michelle Lane – Although the local public was somewhat biased, the girl who represented them could not be absent, as she had what it took to reach the final.

* Miss Thailand, Tanya Suesuntisook – The 24-year-old student already had a degree in General Science and was hoping to become a Doctor one day. She likes to sing and play the piano.

* Miss UK, Vicki-Lee Walberg – The 21-year-old model would like to open a restaurant outside of the UK. Maybe somewhere where she can brush up on her French, German, Italian, and Japanese!

* Miss Venezuela, Christina Dieckman Jiménez – The 20-year-old fashion design student had a pretty tough act to follow: Miss Venezuela had qualified 12 times in the last 13 years. Many thought this year’s rep would surely continue the trend.

LAST DAYS OF THE COMPETITION.-

                On the night of Thursday, November 20, the Dress Rehearsal was held but with the absence of the star of the song Ricky Martin who had not yet arrived in the Seychelles. There, the awards were given to MISS PERSONALITY, chosen by her fellow contestants and which went to Miss THAILAND (Tanya Suesuntisook) and to the BEST EVENING GOWN, which was the one of Miss SWEDEN (Sofia Joelsson). The next day, Friday the 21st, was dedicated to the private evaluation with the judges. The nine personalities invited as members of the evaluation panel, interviewed each contestant individually and saw them in groups in bathing suits. This activity took all day. As was traditional, each judge had to select their 10 favorite candidates in two categories, in the interview where the character, personality, intelligence and verbal ability of each participant were determined, as well as their elegance in their gowns, and, in bathing suits, where beauty, bearing, body and catwalk were evaluated. The votes would be tabulated by an auditing company and saved until the Saturday’s finals. This year, Eric Morley did have the right to vote, as the judges had to be odd. The tension of the last few days was so great that stress took a toll on some of the participants. To Miss Venezuela, anxiety gave her to eat and eat. Her horrified chaperone saw how, in recent days, the Venezuelan served herself two and three times from the buffet, filled her tray with the most exquisite chocolate desserts and with a small bread she cleaned every last drop of fat from her dish … And is that the pressure to be Miss Venezuela forced her to classify no matter what !.

MISS PERSONALITY.-

                Miss Thailand, Tanya Suesuntisook, who was chosen as Miss Personality by the other 85 girls and whose award was announced during Thursday’s Dress Rehearsal, said that winning the pageant would give her the power that would catch the attention of everyone in her country, which she would use to combat the poor economy, corruption and poverty. Miss Personality said that she had prepared herself through meditation, an art that she teaches and that, according to her, helps to release the energy that is generally attached to all matter. Miss Thailand said her willingness to help her fellow contenders had contributed to her popularity among the other girls, who she said could be called upon when they needed her, even when they had minor medical problems that she had been treating with natural medicine. She also cited the generosity she had shown to her fellow participants.

                Speaking about her academic background, Tanya said that she went to the United States for her high school education before returning to Thailand, where she earned a Bachelor of Science. When asked about how she maintained her figure, Miss Thailand quickly listed the foods to eat and not to eat for a dieter, citing specific areas of the body where fat should be consumed by those who intended to lose weight. About her family background, joking in French during the interview that was conducted in English, she said that she has a huge and funny father, whose personality journalists suggested that she had inherited, and a mother who loved people. When asked about her singing, Miss Thailand happily performed a song that ended abruptly to the excitement of those present. Then, upon request, she melodiously sang another song in Thai. When asked to comment on choosing her as Miss Personality, the very eloquent Tanya said that she had no words to express how she felt, except to say that it was a great honor that the other girls had chosen her.

MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT OF SEYCHELLES.-

               “The holding of the Miss World beauty pageant in Seychelles should bring a new dimension to the theme of ‘Beauty with a Purpose’ and transform the pageant into a celebration of the role of modern women in society and in the development of a new world order: one in which the beauty of the person radiates from within through their dignity and human values”. This was an excerpt from President France Albert René’s message published in the official program of the event. President René said in the message that he was convinced that the presence of the pageant “in our islands and in the midst of our people will change the face and direction of Miss World as we approach the new Millennium,” adding that Seychelles saw the pageant as a vehicle for the growing number of women seeking the opportunity to make a difference in their children’s future. The message read: “These children hope that we create a lasting harmony between a healthy natural environment and a healthy social environment in which they can thrive. To this end, I wish to reiterate the support I recently pledged to the Nobel Peace Laureates who invited Heads of State to unite and work for a culture of non-violence around the world for the benefit of children. This is the message from Seychelles that I would like all participants in the contest to carry around the world on behalf of the people and the Seychelles government. That way we can make sure that every day more and more children can wake up smiling instead of crying”.

PROGRAM BOOK

THE 1997 MISS WORLD FINAL NIGHT.-

                Everything was set to combine the fiery pulse of samba and the intoxicating Moutia rhythm of the Seychelles. Such would be the atmosphere on the night of Saturday, November 22, for the finals of the 47th edition of Miss World that would unfold from a lush tropical garden of Eden that included a natural waterfall at the Plantation Club hotel, in Baie Lazare. Organizers said the delicate whispers of palm leaves blowing in the wind and the chirping of night birds would combine in a climax of music and dance with salsa from Latin American superstar Ricky Martin and Seychelles’ Moutia star Jany de Letourdie.

                At 10 p.m. (Seychelles time) the event kicked off, produced by Mark West and directed by Alasdair MacMillan. In Venezuela it was seen at 3 in the afternoon through Venevision (with a delayed hour) and in the United Kingdom at 9 p.m. through Sky One. The broadcast began with the images of what was the wonderful reception in the Seychelles together with the welcoming words of the outgoing queen, the Greek Eirini Skliva from a paradisiacal beach in Mahe. Then, with the sound of seashells, the opening began with a spectacular tropical show composed of 50 dancers in colorful national costumes and Sega dance costumes, as well as musicians who opened the show with drums to the sound of Brazilian samba “Beija Flor 1993”. The theme of the show was “A Good Harvest,” which represented the joy among the villagers when the fishermen arrived with a good catch during the southeastern monsoon, which was normally associated with rough seas and fish shortages. The animator Richard Steinmetz came dancing to the stage and after his welcoming words called his partner in animation, the South African Khanyi Dhlomo-Mkhize, on stage.

                They immediately presented the filming made in different parts of the Seychelles, showing the contestants in their Spectacular Costumes, introduced by Steinmetz, who presented themselves while showing images of their dresses. The first group, made up of the representatives of the American Virgin Islands, Argentina, Aruba, Bahamas, and Bolivia, did so from the Craft Village of Mahe. The second group, from the flagrant spice plantation, brought together contestants from Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Botswana. From the Seychelles Yacht Club, the third group of participants was presented with the girls from Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Cape Verde, Cayman Islands and Chile. The beauties of Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica and Croatia were presented from the Botanical Garden of the Seychelles. The next group did it from the Victoria Viewpoint, the capital city, with the girls from Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland and Ghana. Miss Dominican Republic, Miss Ecuador, Miss Egypt, Miss France and Miss Germany posed at the National Library. Young women from Gibraltar, Greece, Guatemala, Holland, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Italy and Jamaica appeared from La Digue Island. On the granite Island of Praslin the entrants from Israel, Ireland, Japan, Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Malaysia, Macau and Nepal were shown.

                Returning to Mahe, the next group of four candidates posed from the now defunct Hotel Equator, they were Miss Malta, Miss Mexico, Miss Panama and Miss Paraguay. Another quartet appeared from St. Andre, a place of old Creole mansions, made up of girls from Lebanon, Namibia, New Zealand and Norway. The next group of contestants appeared at the Hotel Plantation Club, the venue for the event. They were the representatives of Peru, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Singapore, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Slovakia, Seychelles and Slovenia. Girls from South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan and Trinidad-Tobago were on Anse Nord d’Est Beach. From the presidential residence (State House) the entrants from Switzerland, Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, Uganda and Swaziland could be seen. In the Bay of Port Launey, smiling young women from Ukraine, the United Kingdom, the United States and Yugoslavia recorded smiling. And finally, from the viewpoint of the Mission jungle, the candidates from Uruguay, Venezuela, Zambia and Zimbabwe were seen. While the viewer saw all these images, the participants performed on stage for the Plantation Club audience. The closing of the opening was made by the dancers with the same theme “Beija Flor 1993” with which they had started the show, as well as fire-swallowing men and a group of jugglers brought especially from Kenya with choreography by Daniella Rose.

                It was time to meet the first winner of the night and for this Steinmetz and Mkhize called the British designer Amanda Wakeley to the stage, who announced that the winner of the BEST SPECTACULAR COSTUME was Miss NEW ZEALAND (Lauralee Martinovich), a simple gown of white silk with transparencies and with an embroidery that simulated the leaves of a silver fern, a national plant of her country, designed by Barbara Lee. The New Zealand beauty received a small trophy in her honor. After the first commercial break, the animators commented on the 115 islands that make up the Seychelles and their population, which at that time reached 75 thousand souls. To illustrate the detail, they presented a short 2 minute video with images of the islands and their people. Next, Steinmetz and Mkhize announced the nine personalities of the judges, they were:

01.- Yves de Bohan, International Marketing President of Champagne Laurent-Perrier.

02.- Gian-Paolo Barbieri, Italian fashion photographer for Ferré / Dior / YSL.

03.- Kimberley Santos-Hill, Miss World 1980 from Guam.

04.- Ketan Somaia, CEO of The Dolphin Group (Block Hotels + UTC).

05.- Leigh Toselli, beauty editor of “Elle Magazine” from South Africa.

06.- Lou Gossett Jr., renowned American actor.

07.- Amanda Wakeley, British fashion designer.

08.- James Mancham, ex-President of Seychelles.

09.- Eric Morley, Chairman of the Miss World Organization.

              After meeting the judges, a video was shown with the awards that the new Miss World would receive. (See AWARDS). After the second commercial block, the animators presented the musical that the candidates filmed wearing their beach wear on the islands of Mahe, Praslin and La Digue with the theme titled “Seychelles Is Here For You” composed by Ray Monk and choreographed by Ken Warwick.

“SEYCHELLES IS HERE FOR YOU”

Mahé, Silhouette, La Digue, Praslin

When you feel in love
There is a place I know
Come along let’s go
I want to take you there

A secluded place
Where the palm trees sway
Here you want to stay
As the smiles go everywhere

Come and chanting
Magic go lie inside your dream
And the dazzling sky of blue
Come on and fly to our romantic rendezvous…
Seychelles!

Beautiful islands in the sun
A tropical hideaway
A garden of Eden
And it’s waiting here for you.

As the silver sand
Flicker through your hand
Here is the music
And see the crystal water go
Go, go, go, go!

Magic go lie inside your dream
And the dazzling sky of blue
Come on and fly to our romantic rendezvous…
Seychelles!

Beautiful islands in the sun
A tropical hideaway
A garden of Eden
And it’s waiting here for you.

Treasure every moment
As the hours slip away
This is where you want to stay
Forever and today…

Magic go lie inside your dream
And the dazzling sky of blue
Come on and fly to our romantic rendezvous…

Beautiful islands in the sun
A tropical hideaway
A garden of Eden
And it’s waiting here for you.

Treasure every moment
Seychelles is here for you!

Treasure every moment
Seychelles is here for you!

                As was traditional, the closing of the musical number was done with all 86 participants on stage, dancing in their spectacular swimsuits covered by sarongs. To present the second award of the night, the comperes called on stage actor Lou Gossett, Jr. who announced that the winner of the TOTAL LOOK IN BEACH WEAR was Miss INDIA (Diana Hayden), who was wearing a black swimsuit embroidered in rhinestones with a huge turban as a headdress. Gossett also released the name of the MISS PHOTOGENIC winner, who happened to be Miss INDIA (Diana Hayden) again. The beautiful Indian girl received two small trophies as a prize. The fact that Miss India won the award for best swimsuit was a slap in the face for conservatives who demonstrated against last year’s pageant in Bangalore, India. “It’s ironic isn’t it? The people who protested now will be celebrating because I took the title home with me”, she said later. Before concluding this segment of the broadcast and while the contestants changed into their evening gowns, the comperes presented the video where the girls did the ecological act of planting trees.

                After a new commercial break, the comperes presented all the competitors individually in their evening dresses, in a sequence that did not always respect the alphabetical order and the girls left both corners of the stage to find their location on it. The closing of the parade was with the “Un, Dos, Tres” by Puerto Rican singer Ricky Martin and his infectious song “María” accompanied on stage by the 86 participants. The most rowdy with the music were Miss Ukraine and Miss Russia, who had learned the song from “A to Z”. After Ricky Martin’s presentation, it was time to announce the ten semi-finalists. They were: Miss TURKEY, Miss AUSTRALIA, Miss MALAYSIA, Miss THAILAND, Miss UNITED KINGDOM, Miss UNITED STATES, Miss LEBANON, Miss INDIA, Miss SOUTH AFRICA and Miss NEW ZEALAND. After a record of Latin American women in the table the previous year, this year none of them made it to the Top 10, also the first time since 1989 that Venezuela failed to qualify in this event. Apparently, the command of English during the private interview played a fundamental role in the selection of the semifinalists.

                After the publicity, the ten semifinalists paraded individually in their evening dresses and each one took the opportunity to give a short message, obligatorily in English, on a theme chosen by them, addressed to the audience and the viewing public. All of them were accompanied by a male model dressed in the naval uniform of the islands, highlighting the affinity of Seychelles with the sea. For the first time in history, the judges would choose the 5 finalists based on the message that the ten lucky ones sent to the world, instead of the usual parade in swimsuits as before. It should be noted that for the FIRST TIME in the history of the contest, the individual parade of the semifinalists in swimsuits was suppressed. At the end of the presentation, the ten semi-finalists posed together for the final deliberation of the judges. While this was happening, the Seychellois singer Jany de Letourdie took over the stage to perform her theme “Tambour”, a moutya rhythm number, accompanied by drums and a group of dancers with costumes that reflected the atmosphere represented in the song whose lyrics spoke from “night, night sky and fire”. It should be noted that the original version of that song had been specially remixed and shortened for the occasion.

 SEMIFINALISTNAMEAGEHOMETOWN
01Miss TURKEYCagla Sikel18Istanbul
02Miss AUSTRALIALaura Csortan21Adelaide
03Miss MALAYSIAArianna Teoh Lai Poh24Penang Island
04Miss THAILANDTanya Suesuntisook24Bangkok
05Miss UNITED KINGDOMVicki-Lee Walberg22Noctorum, Merseyside
06Miss UNITED STATESSallie Elizabeth Toussaint23New York, NY
07Miss LEBANONJoëlle Georges Behlok18Beirut
08Miss INDIADiana Hayden24Mumbai
09Miss SOUTH AFRICAJessica Motaung24Johannesburg
10Miss NEW ZEALANDLauralee Martinovich18Christchurch

                Upon the return of commercials, the animators dedicated the segment to “Beauty with a Purpose”, with the Seychelles children’s choir led by the boy Bennett Accouche, performing a sensitive theme according to the occasion called “We Can Make a Difference”. Richard Steinmetz then proceeded to call the five finalists. They were Miss THAILAND, Miss SOUTH AFRICA, Miss NEW ZEALAND, Miss INDIA and Miss TURKEY. All of them came out from behind the stage where the semifinalists waited for the results holding hands. It was the turn of the serenade that Ricky Martin offered to the five finalists with the theme “I miss you, I forget you, I love you” while the judges placed the final ranking of each of them. For the first time in many years the final question was not asked, perhaps due to lack of time in the broadcast. After a short commercial break, the comperes called the Greek Eirini Skliva, Miss World 1996, to the stage for her farewell walk. Behind her came Julia Morley, the five finalists and Eric Morley, who went on to announce the results in reverse order, as was customary. The SECOND PRINCESS was Miss SOUTH AFRICA (Jessica Motaung), a Law and Psychology student, and the FIRST RUNNER-UP, Miss NEW ZEALAND (Lauralee Martinovich), a professional model. Both received their tiaras from Julia Morley.

                And MISS WORLD 1997 was … Miss INDIA !! Diana Hayden, dressed in a tight white suit, with a high neckline embroidered in rhinestones and bare shoulders, accompanied by long white gloves, became the third woman from India to achieve the coveted Miss World crown in her 47 years of existence. Julia Morley put the sash on her that identified her as the new ruler of world beauty. After sitting on the throne, specially adorned with white flowers, she received the Miss World crown from her predecessor, the Greek Eirini Skliva and proceeded to take her triumphal walk to the chords of the song “We Can Make a Difference”.

                Thus concluded the 2-hour and 10-minute broadcast event while the night sky was lit up with a spectacular fireworks display that ended the show that was broadcast to a record 1.6 billion people in 176 countries around the world. After posing for the press photographers, the winner and her honor roll gave an interview and then went on to the Coronation Ball, which was attended by some 800 guests, including the President of the Republic, Mr. France Albert René, Vice President James Michel, government ministers and other VIPs. The relatively good weather that prevailed during the Finals was a far cry from the weather conditions in the early afternoon when heavy and persistent rain flooded the entire outdoor venue under coconut palms and granite rocks where the party was to take place. This forced the organizers to move the Coronation Ball inside the Plantation Club hotel.

AWARDS.-

                This year there was an increase in prizes. The first runner-up received £ 5,000 and the second runner-up £ 2,500. It was also revealed that Miss Turkey had been the third runner-up with a £ 1,000 prize and Miss Thailand, the fourth runner-up, with a £ 500 check. For their part, both Miss Photogenic (India) and Miss Personality (Thailand) received a cash prize of an additional Three Thousand British Pounds for each. The new Miss World would receive £ 60,000 (about $ 95,000 and almost half a million rupees) in cash from the organization, which would be divided into 10 thousand at the time of winning, a monthly salary of 3 Thousand British Pounds for the next ten months and a £ 20,000 bonus upon handing over the crown to her successor. She also obtained the following awards from the sponsors:

                A fabulous seven-day, all-expenses-paid safari vacation in the heart of Africa for herself and one lucky companion. This award, valued at US $ 10,000, was sponsored by Block Hotels and UTC Dolphin Group Companies. From MG Labs, Miss World 1997 received an annual supply of skin care products worth US $ 20,000 so that she can stay in top shape during her year of reign. She received a spectacular bronze sculpture of Paille en Queue, the Seychelles national bird, from Tom Bowers Sculpture Studio in Seychelles, as well as jewelry from Kreol ‘Or. From Nikon, the winner got an amazing Nikon Pronea 600i camera along with a 24-70mm Nikkor lens. This would allow her to capture and preserve forever all the new memories of the coming year of her. And from Grundig, she received a professional care and comfort package. Finally, Miss World 1997 would have the wonderful opportunity to return to the Plantation Club Hotel in Mahe for the one-week Pearl Class vacation package sponsored by Air Seychelles and the Seychelles Ministry of Tourism.

                In the Coronation Ball, the Continental Beauty Queens were announced, as was tradition in the contest and who would receive a trophy but not a cash prize as in other years. Of them, the only one who did not make it to the semifinalists was the girl who won for the Caribbean Islands:

AFRICAMiss SOUTH AFRICAJessica Motaung
AMÉRICASMiss UNITED STATESSallie Elizabeth Toussaint
ASIA & OCEANIAMiss INDIADiana Hayden
CARIBBEAN ISLANDSMiss JAMAICAMichelle Moodie
EUROPEMiss TURKEYCagla Sikel

FIRST WORDS OF MISS WORLD.-

                Brand new Miss World 1997 Diana Hayden from India, a 5 feet 8 inches tall gray-eyed brunette who ran her own celebrity management company in Mumbai and hoped to launch a record label, said the title meant a lot to her. “I still have the feeling of floating in the air,” she said. She commented that she had not yet spoken with her family but that her directors had already congratulated her. She also added that she intended to keep her promise to donate some of her prize money to charities. “That is a promise I made in case I won the Miss World title, and I intend to keep it”, a delighted Diana Hayden told the press minutes after being crowned Miss World 1997 at the Plantation Club Hotel and Casino on Saturday night. And she remembered her own words that she said during the pageant: “Between dreams responsibilities begin” quoting the Irish poet W.B. Yeats. Hayden added that with her money she would also help her family and she would “maybe spend a little” on herself. “I think I’m entitled to that right now,” she said laughing. However, during a press conference Sunday morning, November 23 at the Plantation Club Hotel, Hayden said she planned to buy a house for her family and some other gifts for close relatives, including a computer for her cousin, with the money. that she had won. She also commented that she had woken up with “a big smile” on her face. “Even in my wildest fantasies, I never imagined this,” she said still excited by her triumph. Hayden also said that she would postpone her wedding to fulfill her duties as Miss World. She confessed to being in love with an Irishman, 37-year-old businessman Mark Cohen of Rathgar, whom she had been dating for the past three years. “Right now he’s my boyfriend,” she said. Mark and his mother were present at the Miss World finals. When asked what her priority would be as Miss World 1997, Hayden said, “Let me soak it up first. Let me soak in all of this and feel it.”

                Speaking to the local and international press that surrounded her with many cameras, Miss Hayden said that she owed part of the brilliance of her success to the journalists who had chosen her as Miss Photogenic. However, Hayden said that she had not even imagined that she could win the Miss India pageant, much less the Miss World title. She admitted that she had little idea of ​​the plans the Miss World Organization had for her. Regarding her name and her non-Indian heritage, Diana said that she was in the process of tracing her family tree. The Mumbai resident said that some of her ancestors were English “four or five generations ago”. Of protests the previous year by groups that felt the pageant was an insult to women and Indian culture, she said it was “very unfortunate.” “I’m sure the rest of India was very happy with that”, she said. This year was the third time an Indian beauty queen had won the coveted Miss World title since the pageant began in 1951. The previous two times were in 1966 with Reita Faria and in 1994 with Aishwarya Rai.

THE FAREWELL.-

                Most of the Miss World girls left on an Air Seychelles flight to London on Sunday afternoon, November 23. To see them off were, among others, Miss Seychelles, Michelle Lane, whom the contestants had previously described as a wonderful hostess. On the same flight was the president of the Miss World organization, Eric Morley, who individually said goodbye to each journalist, security officer and the entire Miss World staff, in addition to shaking hands with each of the Happy Islanders dancers. As they waited for boarding time, the obviously tired contestants sat on nearby ledges and on the grass to enjoy the mute music played by the Happy Islanders. Some, however, could not resist the rhythms and joined the dancers in the dance. Many still had the energy to chat happily with reporters, including Miss Namibia, Sheya Shipanga. Some spoke of injustice. Regarding the results, Miss Puerto Rico said with resignation: “It was not our day.”

FIRST ACTIVITIES OF MISS WORLD 1997.-

                On Tuesday, November 24, Diana Hayden, newly crowned Miss World 1997, began her routine as Miss World with a visit to President France Albert René at State House and then held talks with First Lady Sarah René before visiting the pregnant women and newborn children at Victoria Hospital. She then returned to the State House where she was invited to lunch by Vice President James Michel. Also present at the luncheon in the great hall of the old State House building were Miss Seychelles, Michelle Lane, opposition leader James Mancham, Minister of Tourism and Transport Simone de Comarmond, Ambassador Allan Butler-Payette and financiers Norman Weber and Francis Chang Leng, both from the Ministry of Finance and Communications and the Central Bank of Seychelles. Also present was the High Commissioner of India in Seychelles, his Excellency O’Neil River Wallang.

                During a press interview that followed her conversations with the President, Miss Hayden revealed that discussions with the Head of State had focused on charitable causes in which she was likely to be involved, noting that 75% of the Seychelles population was made up of young people. She noted that First Lady Sarah Rene was Patron of the Committee on Drug and Alcohol Awareness, Resilience and Education (CARE), and that she, Diana, was scheduled to visit schools and hospitals with a view to further spreading the ideals that CARE kept. Miss World, who was escorted to the State House by Miss Seychelles, Michelle Lane, said her first real exposure to the Seychelles was during the previous year’s fashion show that took place at the Berjaya Mahe Beach Hotel. She said she found the Seychellois to be very similar to the Indians in their appearance and hospitality, and said that in her opinion the Irish (referring to her boyfriend), Indians and Seychellois had the widest smiles.

                At Victoria Hospital, Miss World was greeted by Senior Secretary Noellie Alexander, Health Commissioner Dr. Rubell Brewer, Chief Planning, Research, and Statistics Chief Jude Padayachy, and the doctors and nurses who drove her to the prenatal care room where she spoke with the expectant mothers. In the maternity ward, Miss World spoke freely with the newly delivered mothers, as well as with the doctors and nurses. When the mothers congratulated her on her victory, Diana congratulated them on her babies. One of the doctors, the gynecologist Charumathi, spoke highly of Diana saying that she was made for the title and that she did not have the nervousness seen in some of the other girls competing for the title of Miss World. Dr. Charuathi said that she attended a party Monday night where Diana was present, and the new title holder carried herself with the proper poise and dignity that others tended to acquire only towards the end of her terms.

                In the afternoon, members of the Indo-Seychelles Friendship Association held a traditional Indian farewell ceremony for Miss Hayden before she left for London that evening. Vice President Michel said that Seychelles would definitely host the 1998 Miss World pageant. Noting that Seychelles had a whole year to plan for it, Minister Michel said the country would ensure that it was not just another success, but that Seychelles would take advantage of it. the experiences acquired this year and would continue to promote the event. Describing Saturday’s show as “great”, Vice President Michel said that he was very proud not only of himself but also of the Seychelles and its people. “(That night) Seychelles was like a shining star in the Indian Ocean that shone in many countries around the world”, the vice president told SBC reporters shortly after Miss India was crowned Miss World 1997.

A CLOUD OVER THE TITLE.-

                A possible conflict of interest charge in the evaluation of the Miss World pageant cast a small cloud over the triumph of Diana Hayden of India. While the fact that she could carry the Miss World title cannot be disputed, her link to the Dolphin Group, the event’s main sponsor, had caused a stir. The company represented by one of the judges in the Miss World contest distributed the artist records managed by the winner, Miss India. Speaking to reporters on Sunday, Diana Hayden, head of the Artist Management Division of Mumbai-based BMG Crescendo, confirmed to the press that she worked for BMG Crescendo, an entertainment company in Mumbai, who were suppliers to the Group. Dolphin but dismissed suggestions that the fact that the Dubai-based Dolphin Group, which distributed recordings of its Hindi pop musicians Anaida and Mehnez, could represent a conflict of interest. “There were nine judges that day, and I had all of them come up and tell me, you did really well,” she said. “If I may say so, for the final round, I did pretty well in my opinion.” Dolphin’s boss, Ketan Somala, an Indian businessman, was one of nine judges who selected Hayden from a field of 86 contestants to receive the award and contracts for one-year public appearances. Three days before the event, Dolphin announced a $ 40 million investment in a resort and shopping complex complex in Mahe together with the Seychelles government, which obtained the license to host this year’s event. Kenyan of Indian origin, Somaia jumped to the pages of the Nairobi newspapers, where he was accused of having kept the money destined to pay for a delivery of weapons to the Kenyan security forces.

                Block Hotels and United Touring Co., wholly owned by Dolphin, were the main sponsors of the event. Their participation was confirmed less than a month before Saturday’s pageant. The founder and owner of the Miss World franchise, Eric Morley, noted that Dolphin was a sponsor obtained by the Seychelles licensee, Talent Promotions Ltd., an offshore company created by the Seychelles government. “These are not our sponsors at all; they are from Seychelles,” he said, adding that the issue could lie in the Miss World Organization’s decision to grant Seychelles the second-year option in their contract to host the event the following year. “(Diana’s) company is not run by Dolphin,” Morley’s wife and business partner Julia said later. “This girl is a winner in her own right.” On his side, Mr. James Mancham, who was reportedly a partner in Dolphin, stated on SBC TV that his affiliation with Mr. Somaia had not influenced his judgment of the contest in any way.

                On the other hand, Eric Morley, the owner of Miss World, “let the cat out of the bag.” Responding to a question from SBC TV, Morley made it clear that Seychelles would have to cover the cost of running the beauty pageant. “It is the host who has to cover the costs,” he said and it is up to the Seychelles to find sponsors to help. This was a fact that local organizers and the government had done their best to keep secret. The Ministry of Finance never gave a statement of what Seychelles had to pay and did not even acknowledge that the responsibility was from the country. A conservative estimate put the cost at $ 3,000,000. Morley also anticipated that Israel was seeking to host the following year’s Miss World pageant as part of the celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Jewish nation. Two other countries that were interested in hosting in 1998 were Jamaica and Puerto Rico. However, after years of wandering the world as if she were a social outcast, Miss World hoped to become a permanent resident of the Seychelles. The organizers were negotiating with the government to make the islands the permanent home of the contest. On the other hand, Gilbert Pool, a spokesman for the Seychelles government, said that he did not expect, during the first year, to make any profit from the investment of 3 million dollars to stage the contest in the islands but “it will probably be recovered in the second year”. The Miss World was expected to help spread the Seychelles as a tourist destination.

MISS VENEZUELA SAID THAT THERE WAS DISCRIMINATION TOWARDS LATINAS.-

                On Wednesday, November 26, Venezuelan Christina Dieckmann, who had returned to her country on Monday, said she felt discrimination against Latinas in the contest. “It was a disaster, they didn’t leave anything to the Latinas. For me, and because of the comments I heard, there was a political, economic and racism movement there.” Christina believed that she had had a lot to do with the suspension of the contest in India, where it had to be one or two more years, but given what happened the previous year, they had to suspend it. “The treatment of us was different. For example, Latinas could not leave their rooms without chaperones, while Europeans and those on the Indian Ocean side, went out alone and walked around the hotel, which we were not allowed”. “When Miss India was chosen as Miss Photogenic, many photographers left the place knocking down their chairs. Miss Uruguay, my roommate, was not allowed to wear a swimsuit that I had lent her because she had come out with another one in beige color in the video but they allowed Miss India to change her swimsuit, she put on a black one and came out with stockings”.

                “When I saw that there was only one of the ten left to name and they did not name me, I got depressed, then I cried like anyone whose illusions fall. I had even combed my hair to wear the crown and when I saw that they did not even name me as a finalist, I couldn’t control crying. But not anymore, I have nothing to regret. While there I lost three kilos and the dress was too big for me. I had a very great pressure and it was being Venezuelan”. “I don’t feel like a loser, now all that remains is to prove who Christina Dieckmann is. At first I felt like I had failed, I felt alone, but after talking with my mother I concluded that I am a winner because I gave my best. But the contest disappointed me, that belonged to the Latin girls and they knew it. Then I realized that there were queens with a crown and queens without a crown, now I feel like a winner”, concluded Christina Dieckmann.

THE MISS WORLD 1997 REIGN.-

                Diana arrived in London accompanied by Julia Morley on Wednesday, November 26. Her first international trip was in early December to Germany, to a car show that was already traditional among the Miss World. She then returned to London where she was present at the Variety Club of Great Britain Christmas Luncheon which that year paid tribute to the composer, lyricist and playwright Lionel Bart. Diana returned to India on Tuesday, December 16, being greeted like a hero. But her return to her country sparked a political controversy in Andhra Pradesh after she agreed to model for a series of videos to promote the government. The opposition party and the BJP alleged that the government was using Hayden for political purposes in anticipation of the upcoming elections. Hayden, who visited the city of Hyderabad for the first time since she won the crown, has been promoting the government’s social welfare program called “Janmabhoomi” (Homeland).

                During her reign, Diana was required to make about 50 appearances to promote the Seychelles. Based in London, she traveled at least three times a month to various parts of the world, throughout the year. Some of the countries she visited were Switzerland, Spain, Canada, the United States, France, Germany, the Czech Republic and, of course, the beautiful Seychelles. More or less every month, she returned to India. If she wasn’t for work, she was for a quick visit to catch up with her friends and family. “I think there is nothing like traveling to grow yourself”. Some of the cherished memories of her were her visit to Cannes for the Film Festival; Puerto Rico, where she visited a school for disabled children and where she made a special new friend there. His name was Fernando, and he was 12 years old. Her contract with L’Oreal, as her new “L’ Oreal International Girl “, ensured that she traveled to Paris often. In the UK, she learned about the work of the Variety Club, which was helping underprivileged children not just in the UK, but around the world through New York-based Variety International. She also had the privilege of presenting ten Sunshine coaches for disabled children in Ireland, where she appeared in a Miss World charity fashion show.

               “This summary of my year would be incomplete if I did not mention some important people who supported me and helped make my year so special. Eric and Julia Morley, their guidance, advice and friendship have been invaluable. Thank you for your support. As my reign as Miss World is coming to an end, I would like to give the following advice to my successor: Absorb it, enjoy it and appreciate every moment. Not many people have the privilege of being Miss World”. Hayden relinquished her Miss World crown in November 1998 in the Seychelles, where she also was a judge.

BIOGRAPHY OF DIANA HAYDEN.-

               Diana Hayden was born on May 1, 1973 in Hyderabab, India to an British-Indian Christian family, the daughter of the plumber Aubrey Hayden and the teacher Dahlgrel. She has a brother named Shane. She and her family lived in Keshav Nagar in Mettuguda, Secunderabad. She attended St. Ann’s High School in Secunderabad. Her parents separated from her when she was in school, so she moved with her mother to Mumbai and she had to start working at the age of 13. “I grew up very simple. I worked as a receptionist and telephone operator, I had at least 15 jobs. Life was very basic. Our educational base was good, so even though I could have been a dropout, I always received books as a Christmas present and I read several books becoming a curious and romantic person”. She worked for an event management company called Encore when she started taking on modeling duties. At the age of 21, she worked as a Public Relations Officer at BMG Crescendo, where she assisted in managing the careers of singers Anaida and Mehnaz Hoosein.

                At the age of 23 she won the title of “Femina Miss India World” in January 1997, which led to the Miss World, held in Seychelles on November 22 of that same year. That night she was crowned the third Miss World from India. “From that point on, my life would never be the same again. I was catapulted into this fairy tale existence where I traveled the world first class, stayed in the presidential suites and was treated like royalty.” One project she will never forget was one that she did during her reign in Hyderabad (India). It was a cause in which the police took poor children off the streets and gave them education, medical care and vocational training. There, Diana donated US $ 66,000 to the police to help them with this project. “Most of my work was charity oriented and I will continue to do so in the future after my reign is over,” she said at the time. “Winning the Miss World title was an incredible experience. What kept my feet on the ground was exercising the motto of ‘Beauty with a Purpose’ through my involvement with people less fortunate than me. Seeing that only your presence, or a smile or a touch can bring so much joy it is an enriching experience. In the course of a year, I learned more than I would have learned in my life and if I could turn back the clock I would not change a second”.

                After her victory in Miss World, she was hired for L’Oréal, Colgate and Chopard in India. She has been associated with various charities, including “Child Rights and You” (CRY), Greenpeace, PETA, and the Spastic Society of India. She has supported various causes to spread awareness about cancer and HIV / AIDS. After handing over the crown to her, Diana studied acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and also at the Drama Studio in London. In May 1998, she attended the “Variety Club Annual Sports Awards” as a guest. In 2001 she made her screen debut in the film version of Shakespeare’s Othello in South Africa. She hosted Miss Europe twice in 2001 and 2002 in Lebanon, along with Miss Lebanon 1997 and Julien Lepers. In April 2002 she participated in the launch of the Bollywood Show in London called “From India with Love” and in May of that same year she attended the “Asian Woman Achievement Awards” also in London. In 2005 she was a judge in Miss World held in Sanya, China.

                In 2006, Diana became the Ambassador for the Avalon Academy and served as a guest speaker for airline personnel training programs. She reappeared in the news in 2008 when she entered the second season of the popular Indian television show “Bigg Boss” from which she appeared until the 13th week of this reality show. In April 2011 she hosted the reality show “The Incredible Indian Bride”. She wrote a book called “A Beautiful Truth” which is an encyclopedia on self-care and is also about developing personality and building confidence. It took her two years to complete the book, which was published on August 6, 2012. In 2013 she met Collin Dick, an American businessman from Nevada, the man she married at age 40 in a private ceremony on September 13, 2013 in Las Vegas. On January 9, 2016, she gave birth to a girl named Arya Renée. The girl was born from an egg that Hayden had frozen 8 years earlier. In November 2017, Hayden confirmed that she was pregnant for the second time and in March 2018, she gave birth to twins, a boy and a girl, Rhys and Taylor, also thanks to technology.

                In 2018, Biplab Kumar Deb, the chief minister of the state of Tripura, made a controversial statement about Hayden during a public speech. Deb questioned the logic behind crowning Diana Hayden Miss World in 1997 and claimed that all international beauty pageants were a sham. Deb expressed, “Tell me, did [Diana] deserve it? People might say I’m creating a controversy. I can understand that Aishwarya Rai was, at least she has features of an Indian beauty.” Deb added that “for the Indians, the goddess Lakshmi and Saraswati exemplify beauty. I do not understand the beauty of Diana Hayden.” Deb’s comments received a massive backlash from netizens and social activists. Hayden responded to Deb’s comments by saying, “I have fought against this prejudice of brown skin since my childhood and have succeeded. I am a proud brown-skinned Indian and I am wounded. I had to fight the “fair skin is better” problem that we have in India. I felt it so strongly that I turned down a cream ad because it went against my beliefs. The minister ranks high and should be careful what he says”. Later, Deb expressed her regret and apologized for her redundant comments about Hayden. Diana lives with her family in Las Vegas, Nevada.

FROM THE OTHER CONTESTANTS.-

                The girls from Belgium, Portugal, Switzerland and Ireland participated in Miss Universe ’98 in Hawaii where the Irish achieved to sneak into the 10 semifinalists. For her part, Miss Botswana made her country debut in Miss Universe ’99 and won that crown !!! Miss Portugal also competed in Miss International ’98 and in the International Coffee Queen of that same year. The Latvian participated in Miss International 1998 and Miss Intercontinental 1999. The Polish won Miss Tourism International ’98, the Finnish was 3rd. runner-up of Miss Europe ’99 and the Ukrainian was semifinalist in Miss Europe 2001. For her part, the Colombian was semifinalist in Miss Latin America ’98 and Miss Macau participated without pain or glory in Miss Chinese International 1998. Miss Thailand competed in Miss Illinois USA 2000 where she reached a position as a semifinalist. She currently resides in Deerfield, Illinois. Miss United States was Miss Connecticut USA and she competed in Miss USA 2000 where she clapped. In 2001 she tried to participate in Miss Trinidad-Tobago without success because she was already over age. The Venezuelan participated in Miss Blonde International in Austria in 1998.

                New Zealander Lauralee Martinovich went to live in Brisbane, Australia and retired from public life. South African Jessica Motaung, daughter of South African soccer legend Kaizer Motaung, was the host of Speak Out, an investigative news program produced by the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) in 1998. In 2014 and 2015 she was nominated as one of the most influential women in her country. Since 2003 she has been the Marketing Director for her father’s Kaizer Chiefs soccer club in Naturena, a suburb of Johannesburg. She is married to Ken Simmons and has two sons, Kenneth and Donald. The Turkish Cagla Sikel is a dancer, actress and famous TV presenter in her country. She is also a blogger and has a YouTube channel. She got married on August 10, 2008 to Turkish pop singer Emre Altug. She lost a pregnancy in December 2008 due to illness. On October 31, 2010 she gave birth to her firstborn Kuzey and in 2012 her second child Uzay was born. The couple divorced on January 12, 2015. Australian Laura Csortan became an actress and TV presenter, as well as a master of ceremonies. She resides between Hollywood (California) and Sydney. Between 2000 and 2008 she hosted the show “The Great Outdoors” and she also co-hosted the Australian version of “Wheel of Fortune”. In 2009 she was a newscaster on the Fox Sports channel. Since 2012 she has appeared regularly on “The Morning Show”. In 2017 she gave birth to a girl. Lebanese Joëlle Behlok is a Fashion Designer, Actress and TV Host in her country. She has been married to Adel Nader since 2007 and has three children. In 2004 she brought journalists in Dubai to trial whom she accused of defamation. Britain’s Vicki-Lee Walberg was the last Miss United Kingdom to advance to the Miss World semifinal. In 1999 she starred in a scandal when it was discovered that in 1994 she had married Marco Alberto Sara-fini, 32, in Las Vegas for which she had competed in Miss United Kingdom and Miss World secretly married. Walberg later went on to work on television on the Bruce Forsythe show “Play Your Cards Right” on ITV in 2002. Today she is Mrs. Forzard and has a daughter. American Sallie Toussaint worked for a time as an actress and currently runs an online store where she sells clothes and accessories. She is the mother of a boy and a girl. She lives in San Francisco, California.

                Miss Botswana, Mpule Kwelagobe, after achieving the Miss Universe crown in 1999 was appointed Goodwill Ambassador to the UN and has been recognized as a human rights activist in health, especially for her fight against HIV-AIDS and advocacy so that young people and women have greater access to sexual reproduction services and education. She is a co-founder of QuesS Capital LLC, a private equity firm with investments in financial services, renewable energy, and agriculture in Africa and South Asia. In 2001, Kwelagobe received the “Jonathan Mann Health Human Rights” award from the International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care (IAPAC). In 2003, she was selected as a Global Leader of Tomorrow (GLT) by the World Economic Forum, and in 2006, she was selected by the same organization as a Young Global Leader (YGL). In 2015, Kwelagobe signed an open letter for the ONE Campaign, for which she had been collecting signatures; the letter was addressed to Angela Merkel and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, urging them to focus on women, as they were heads of the G7 in Germany and the AU in South Africa, respectively. Kwelagobe is a member of the board of directors of the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences, a pan-African network of Centers of Excellence in mathematical sciences founded by 2008 TED Prize winner and quantum physicist, Professor Neil Turok. She had a relationship with businessman Sean Johnson from New York with whom she had her first child in 2008. She married Abhijoy Gandhi in October 2015, with whom she has two more children, a boy (2016) and a girl (2018). She currently lives with her family in Atlanta, Georgia (USA).

                A Tale to Believe in Christmas” in 2012. She was one of the presenters at the 2013 Grammy Awards alongside Lucero and Omar Chaparro. She participated in the movie “Divine Confusion” (2008) and “Regresa” (2010). The film “La vida blanca” (2007), led her to win the award for best actress and the award for best short film at the New-York International Film and Video Festival that same year. In 2010 she starred in the soap-opera “Eva Luna” alongside Guy Ecker for Univision. In 2011 she took a step in the theater, in “Los monologos de la vagina” and in 2013 she joined “Obscuro Total”. In 2012, she starred in the soap-opera “El Talismán” for Univisión alongside Rafael Novoa. That same year she returned to Mexico to star alongside Fernando Colunga in the soap-opera “Porque el amor manda” for Televisa. In 2004 she was widowed by Bill Holefelder whom she married in 2003 and is divorced from her second husband, Jack Hartnett, after five years of marriage (2006-2011). Another who was successful in acting was the Nepalese Jharana Bajracharya Rashid who not only worked in her country as a renowned film actress but also came to Bollywood. She has been married since March 2015 to Rahul Agrawal.

                Venezuelan Christina Dieckmann was a very successful model and exclusive image of many brands. She was a model in the program “Cuanto Vale el Show” at the beginning of the 2000s and a showgirl in several Julio Iglesias world concerts in 2002. She participated in the soap-operas “Amantes de luna full” and “Gata Salvaje” and later in a Brazilian soap-opera titled “Seus Olhos” to later make her first leading role in “Toda una dama”. At the end of 2002 she went to live in Miami with her boyfriend, the singer Florentino Primera. In 2013 she signed an exclusive contract with the Telemundo network for the telenovela “Dama y Obrero”. She is currently a businesswoman and lives in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Irish Andrea Roche was a successful model before opening her own modeling agency named after her in October 2010. Among her discoveries is Irish Miss World Rosanna Davison. She is a fashion magazine editor and a TV personality from her country. Andrea was for many years the National Director of the Miss Universe Ireland pageant in the Trump era. In 2008 she won the Most Stylish Woman award at the VIP Style Awards. She was married from 2006 to 2010 to PJ Mansfield. Then she married again in Ibiza, Spain in 2012 with businessman Rob White with whom she had a daughter named Sophie, born in March 2014. The Dutch Sonja Silva became a television presenter, actress and singer in her country . She interviewed artists such as Ricky Martin and Lionel Ritchie. She was married three times, first to Eddie Stuy from 2004 to 2006, with whom she had her son Damian; then with Declan Vermaat in 2012 and with whom she barely lasted a few months; and finally with singer Pyke Pos, with whom she married on November 1, 2014. She suffered from bulimia and suffers from chronic fatigue disease. She lives in Schermerhorn. Miss Aruba, Michella Laclé, dabbled in her island politics. She is married to Lennard Steenvoorde and has two children: Loghan and Guizza.

                The Belgian Sandrine Corman began working in 1998 as a TV presenter and later as a radio presenter. In 2011 she hosted the Miss Belgium pageant. She married in June 2004 with the model Xavier Fiams with whom she had a son named Oscar in March 2007. She separated from her husband in 2008 and on September 12, 2014 she remarried, this time with the tennis teacher Michel Bouhoulle with whom she had her second son named Harold, on November 3, 2015. The Brazilian Fernanda Agnes made a career as a model in Europe, residing two years in Milan and two years in Paris, as well as Lisbon, Portugal. It was there that she met the hotel manager Paulo Jorge Pereira da Cruz, whom she married on August 21, 2004, in the city of Santa Cruz do Sul, RS (Brazil). Her daughter with Paulo Jorge, Valentina Agnes da Cruz, was born on March 12, 2005. She participated in the 2nd program “Hypertension” of Red Globo, which took place in 2010, and it was there that she began the romance with fellow participant Billy Martins of João Pessoa. The following year she appeared on the cover of Sexy magazine. She became a fashion entrepreneur, running the Missy Brasil bikini company, which she later sold to a group of European investors. She was also one of the hosts of the television program Studio Pampa. Today Fernanda, separated from Paulo Cruz, lives in Jurere, Florianópolis where she works with real estate investments.

                Colombian Gladys Buitrago Caicedo graduated as a Journalist and is a renowned Television Hostess in her country, especially of lottery programs and Miss World Colombia. She married Néstor Martínez on January 9, 2021 in the middle of the COVID pandemic and lives in Bogotá. French Laure Belleville worked as a choreographer in the artistic direction for the Miss France committee of the Pays de la Loire. She married in August 2006 in Tahiti and is the mother of two children. She was part of the Miss France Regional Committee for the Pays de la Loire region for fifteen years. Since then, she has been a nursery assistant in the Annecy region. After living in Paris from 1996 to 2001, she moved to Angers in Pays-de-la-Loire where she lived from 2001 to 2015. She then moved to Haute-Savoie. Puerto Rican Aurea Marrero is still doing modeling jobs and owns Across Model & Talent Management. She is married and has three children. Russian Lyudmila Popova continued modeling, appeared in a movie in a supporting role, and lived for some time in Moscow. She is currently married, has a 16-year-old daughter, lives in her native Yekaterinburg, and continues to model from time to time.

                Miss Ghana, Benita Sena Golomeke, studied 4 years of Fashion in London. Then, in 2003, she returned to her country to work in the fashion industry. She subsequently dabbled in politics. Benita herself resigned as an organizer of the National Democratic Congress of the Ledzokuku constituency in the Greater Accra region. She competed for the party’s primaries and defeated then-MP Nii Nortey Dua to represent the Democratic National Congress in the constituency. She won the elections in 2012 to represent the Ledzokuku people in the Ghanaian parliament. She became the first Miss Ghana to be elected as a member of parliament. She also served as Deputy Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection of Ghana from April 2013 to June 2014. She was also Deputy Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture of her country. Benita lost her seat to Dr. Benard Okoe-Boye, who was on the New Patriotic Party list in the 2016 parliamentary elections. She is married to Steve Okity-Duah. Greek Evgenia Limantzaki is a businesswoman and runs Hatzi Mansion, an exclusive venue where mostly weddings are held on the outskirts of Athens. She is married and has two sons.

                Israeli Mirit Grinberg is a cancer survivor. She ran a well-known bar in Tel-Aviv called “Jimmy Who”. She is married and the mother of four children. The Italian Irene Lippi lived for many years in Dublin, Ireland before settling back in her country, this time in Milan. She has been married since 2015 to Lorenzo Baglioni and has two daughters. Norwegian Charlotte Hoiaasen turned twenty years of marriage on February 24, 2021 with Roar Salvesen and lives in the city of Vennesla. She has two children, Josefine and Theodor. Panamanian Patricia Bremner is the Director of Operations of an insurance company in her country and is the mother of a girl. Paraguayan Mariela Quiñónes is a businesswoman in the textile industry in her country and the mother of three boys. Peruvian Claudia Luque is the mother of a girl and worked for the Falabella group in Lima for many years. Filipina Rachel Florendo worked for many years as a nurse in Cleveland, Ohio and is the mother of two young children, Isla and Jacob. She currently lives in Forster City, California. Polish Roksana Jonek is married to soccer player Kamil Kosowski, with whom she has two children, Antoni (2007) and Julian (2012). Swedish Sofia Joelsson lives in Miami Beach where she develops as a successful interior designer. Miss Gibraltar, Rossanna Ressa, is the director of the “Mrs. Gibraltar” pageant since 2015 and is the mother of three children. Guatemalan Lourdes Valencia married a Brazilian named Saraiva and lives in Teresópolis, Rio de Janeiro.

                Miss Seychelles, Michelle Lane, is married to Bobby Brantley Jr., son of the former governor of Florida (USA) who bears the same name. Both run a finance company called Sterling Offshore on Eden Island (Seychelles) where they reside. The Swiss Tanja Gutmann is an actress and TV presenter in her country. She is romantically involved with Siro Micheroli and has a son named Ian, born on April 29, 2014. The Yugoslav Tamara Saponjic also dedicated herself to acting. Miss Tanzania, Saida Joy Kessy, is the director of the NGO Dunia Moja Pamoja in her country, which collects food and helps those most in need. Ugandan Lilliam Acom reigned as Miss Uganda for 4 years. At one point in her life, Lillian tried her luck as a gospel musician in New Jersey, USA. She married and divorced Nick Okore. She currently she is Mrs. McLung. She serves as a preacher and motivational speaker and also runs a fashion company named after her.

                The Ukrainian Kseniya Kuzmenko, after Miss Europe in 2001, resumed her modeling activities both in her native country and in Russia. She married, has 3 children: Alexander, Plato and Michelle, and lives between Kiev and Brussels. She continued modeling until 2017, when she retired from public life. She was in a relationship with the Ukrainian billionaire Oleksandr Onyshchenko. The Croatian Martina Novosel married Ante Todoric in Zagreb on November 9, 2002, with whom she had three children, Emma, ​​Lucia and Ivica. They divorced in 2017. She currently lives with her children in Vienna, Austria. Ecuadorian Clio Olaya lives in Los Angeles (California) and is a swimwear designer. Finnish Minna Lehtinen married in Marbella, Spain in 2007 to Tomas von Rettig, heir to a wealthy industrial family and with whom she had a daughter in 2008. They divorced in 2010. Miss Bahamas, Alveta Adderley, married Nigel in 2009 Knight and has two sons, Miss Cape Verde, Carmelinda Gonçalves, practices as a Dentist in her country and Honduran Hansel Cáceres currently lives in Boston, Massachusetts.

THE WAY THEY LOOK TODAY

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