Dress for success
Creating that impressive gown for Miss Universe final
Toshami Calvin (centre), newly crowned Miss Universe Jamaica, being flanked by first runner-up Rachel Silvera (left) and second runner-up Shanique Singh at the contest's grand coronation held at the AC Hotel in Kingston recently. All the contestants were wearing gowns from Uzuri International. (Photo: Karl Mclarty)

MARK McDermoth, national director of the Miss Universe Jamaica Organisation, believes that the evening gown segment at the international pageant is an important one for delegates.

McDermoth, along with business partner Karl Williams, are the principals behind Uzuri International and the popular Dermoth/Williams Couture designs which has designed gowns for several local and international pageant delegates.

"Gowns are very, very important in pageants — and especially with the Miss Universe pageant, a third of the score is based on the evening gown. It's really about the suitability of the evening gown for the delegate, how it meshes with her personality, how the colour works with her and, very importantly, how she executes herself in the gown. How the gown fits is also very important," McDermoth told the Jamaica Observer.

He said a number of factors influence the design of the evening gown.

"The factors that influence the design of the evening gown for the delegate include the skin tone and what colours will mesh, blend, or contrast with the skin tone. How the gown will perform on stage, how it will move, sparkle, all of those things. The personality of the delegate is also important," said McDermoth.

Given that Jamaica is celebrating 60 years of Independence, McDermoth was asked whether that will be a factor in the creation of the evening gown for the current delegate, Toshami Calvin, to wear to the Miss Universe finals.

"Yes. I believe we're honouring that in as many ways as we can. Chances are, there might be some indication that we're in this celebration," said McDermoth.

Dermoth/Williams Couture has been in existence since 1998.

"It was in 1998 that we officially incorporated the Uzuri International company, which is the umbrella company. More so now, we are trying to distinguish the fact that Karl Williams and Mark McDermoth are the designers," said Williams.

McDermoth studied fashion design at Madame Francois School of Fashion Designing in the 1980s.

"I enrolled in the school on Red Hills Road to learn basic technical aspects. Then it evolved into me making things for my family. When we started the company a lot of it was on the job training," McDermoth explained.

The designer says they no longer have a store front and will now be focusing on an online presence, as well as two major fashion shows per year and trunk shows.

Uzuri International acquired the Miss Universe Jamaica franchise in 2013. That year, Kerrie Baylis represented Jamaica at the international pageant.

To date, Jamaican representatives to the Miss Universe pageant have made the top 20 on nine occasions, including eight top 10 placements. The highest placement came in 2010 when Yendi Phillips finished a first runner-up to Ximena Navarrete of Mexico.

The grand coronation of Miss Universe 2022 (the 71st edition) will take place on January 14, 2023 at the New Orleans Morial Convention Centre in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Miqueal-Symone Williams, Miss Universe Jamaica 2020, in a dazzling evening gown by Uzuri International
Davina Bennett, Miss Universe second runner-up 2017, wearing a gown designed by local fashion house Uzuri International.
Kaci Fennell, Miss Jamaica Universe 2014, in a classy evening gown by Uzuri International
Kevin Jackson

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