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See Her Looks – WWD


Miss Spain Athenea Paulinha Pérez was named Miss Congeniality on Saturday during the 2023 Miss Universe competition in Sal Salvador, El Salvador.

The model won the honor after the delegates voted for the competitor who inspired her peers with kindness, positivity and enthusiasm. In remarks shared by hosts Zuri Hall and Catriona Gray, Pérez said that “her biggest fear this week was forgetting this was a competition because she was so busy socializing and making friends.”

Pérez is being celebrated for more than being a steward of sisterhood. She made history as the first woman of color to hold the title of Miss Spain.

Miss Spain Athenea Paulinha Pérez, in the Miss Universe 2023 evening gown competition, on Nov. 18 in San Salvador, El Salvador.

Miss Spain Athenea Paulinha Pérez in the Miss Universe 2023 evening gown competition on Nov. 18 in San Salvador, El Salvador.

BENJAMIN ASKINAS

“I believe that diversity is the future and I’m an example of it,” Pérez said in an interview segment. “Currently, I’m collaborating with children’s villages with immigrant mothers and single-parent households because I was raised by a single mother who is an immigrant and black woman.” She continued, “I know that my story can help to inspire other people. Diversity is here, and diversity is now — it’s today.”

SAN SALVADOR, EL SALVADOR - NOVEMBER 16: Miss Spain Athenea Pérez attends the 72nd Miss Universe Competition - National Costme Show at Gimnasio Nacional Jose Adolfo Pineda on November 16, 2023 in San Salvador, El Salvador. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images)

Miss Spain Athenea Paulinha Pérez in the Miss Universe 2023 national costume competition on Nov. 16 in San Salvador, El Salvador.

Getty Images

Pérez, who ranked among the top 10 finalists, presented several looks. She paid tribute to Spain’s traditions in a flamenco-inspired dress by Siempreviva that featured dramatic ruffles around the train and wrists. During the evening gown segment she chose a sparkling gold dress that incorporated allover sequins and large cutouts.

Miss Spain Athenea Paulinha Pérez in the Miss Universe 2023 swimsuit competition on Nov. 18 in San Salvador, El Salvador, bikini

Miss Spain Athenea Paulinha Pérez in the Miss Universe 2023 swimsuit competition on Nov. 18 in San Salvador, El Salvador.

BENJAMIN ASKINAS

For the swimsuit round, she chose a bikini designed by Rubin Singer, the Miss Universe Organization’s collaborator for its first merchandise line. The opening number saw her in a blue one-shoulder cocktail dress by Clarisse Designs, which provided dresses worn by all delegates for the opening numbers, and Jojo Bragais was the footwear sponsor.

SAN SALVADOR, EL SALVADOR - NOVEMBER 18: Miss Spain Athenea Paulinha Pérez participates during the 72nd Miss Universe Competition at Gimnasio Nacional José Adolfo Pineda on November 18, 2023 in San Salvador, El Salvador. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images)

Miss Spain Athenea Paulinha Pérez in the Miss Universe 2023 opening number on Nov. 18 in San Salvador, El Salvador.

Getty Images

2023 represented the most inclusive and diverse Miss Universe pageant in its 72-year history. In addition to Spain’s first delegate of color, restrictions on age and marital status ended. Two competitors were their country’s first transgender representatives — Miss Portugal Marina Machete and Miss Netherlands Rikkie Kollé. In 2018, Miss Spain Ángela Ponce became the first transwoman in the competition after rules changed five years earlier. Miss Guatemala Michelle Cohn and Miss Colombia Camila Avella debuted as the first competitors who are currently married. Miss Nepal Jane Dipika Garrett was the pageant’s first plus size delegate, and Miss Pakistan Erica Robin was the first competitor to wear a burkini during the swimsuit round.

The pageant’s modern makeover began last year after Anne Jakkaphong Jakrajutatip, a transgender businesswoman, purchased the Miss Universe Organization for $20,000,000. She promised that under her direction, the pageant will have the “transformational leadership in order to enhance the organization’s longstanding heritage.”

Miss Nicaragua Sheynnis Palacios wins Miss Universe 2023 on Nov. 18 in San Salvador, El Salvador, crown

Miss Nicaragua Sheynnis Palacios wins Miss Universe 2023 on Nov. 18 in San Salvador, El Salvador.

BENJAMIN ASKINAS

Miss Nicaragua Sheynnis Palacios was named the winner of Miss Universe 2023. Miss Australia Moraya Wilson was first runner up, and Miss Thailand Anntonia Porsild was also one of the top three finalists. Miss Universe 2022 R’Bonney Gabriel of the USA presented Palacios with a crown created by Mouawad, the official jeweler for the Miss Universe Organization since 2019.



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