SASHES AND TIARAS.....Miss USA 2014 Evening Gown Portraits, The Best Gowns!

Miss South Carolina USA 2014 Christina Zapolski: Is this gown one of The Best? Keep reading and find out...

It's "Miss USA" time again and as you know--if you keep up on my NICKVERREOS.COM blog here, I love to talk Beauty pageants and especially Beauty Pageant Gowns so, needless to say, Miss USA is a "BIGGIE" when it comes to this dear subject of mine. The Finals of the Miss USA 2014 pageant are occurring this Sunday, June 8th, live from Baton Rouge Louisiana. Yes kids THIS SUNDAY--on the SAME NIGHT as the Tony Awards! It's like "SuperGay Sunday!" Not sure what I'll record and what I'll watch LIVE. Major Dilemma. Last year's winner was Erin Brady from Connecticut...

Erin Brady Miss USA 2013--We'll have to tune in Sunday night to see who will be the new Miss USA. But now to the important matters at hand: The Evening Gowns. The 51 contestants have been in Louisiana for the last couple of weeks for the preparations, welcome events, parties, and official photo sessions. One of these photo sessions involves the "Evening Gown Portraits" which the contestants take in advance of the Preliminaries and Finals. Lots of times, the ladies wear different gowns for these Portraits as opposed to what they wear for the preliminaries and/or Finals. In addition, some of them wear gowns provided by the Evening Gown Sponsor, Sherri Hill. In this post, I want to highlight my Top Favorite of these gowns in the Miss USA 2014 Evening Gown Portraits. Note: the All-Important Preliminaries occur tonight so I'll have a "Gown Recap" tomorrow of those and will be interested to see if there will be any "Gown Changes". But for now, let's get to my Top Gown Picks:

Miss Ohio USA Madison Gesiotto: from head to toe, this is perfection! Madison looks every bit a QUEEN in this blush fitted gown with silver/pewter flower-and-leaf applique. The fit is great and I love the heavy-to-light falling "rose branches". I would normally think the up-do bun and big ol' earrings would have been "Too Muchey" but here, it really completes the total look.

Gown Score: 9.7

Miss Louisiana USA Brittany Guidry: Since Miss USA 2014 is being held in Brittany's state, she has to make a fabulous impression. And she does in this golden sheath of a gown with silver sequined tulle overlay. She seriously looks like J.Lo attending the Golden Globes. I love it! One of the best of these Evening Gown Portraits.

Gown Score: 9.7

Miss Iowa USA Carlyn Bradarich: 5' 10" tall Carlyn looks fabulous in this statuesque black gown with sequined neckline detail. The dress is very "Couture"-impacting and makes a definite statement; perfect fit, perfect length.

Gown Score: 9.5

Miss Kentucky USA Destin Kincer: Of the white/ivory gowns on display in these Miss USA 2014 Evening Gown Portraits, this is one of the best. The gown features a Mermaid silhouette with an appliqued torso, drop shoulders and illusion front neckline and back. It's very impacting and accentuates her almost 6 foot tall frame.

Gown Score: 9.5

More "Very Good" Ivory Gown Ladies:

Miss Colorado (left) Eleanna Livaditis: I love the simple elegance of these two ivory "Goddess" gowns. Eleanna's features a full gathered skirt and sweetheart neck scooped bodice and scroll-like sequined midriff applique. Very nice.

Gown Score: 9.4

Miss District of Columbia (right) Ciera Nicole Butts: Ciera's gown is similar to Eleanna in silhouette but is definitely more Grecian Goddess-inspired with  the gold mettalic and sequined midriff panel. This gown is perfect for her. I just wish she wasn't crossing her arms like that.

Gown Score: 9.4

And BTW--Ciera's (Miss District of Columbia USA) gown is the same one Miss Wisconsin USA 2014 wore when she won that crown (yes, these same gowns get around...)--Bishara Dorre "Miss Wisconsin USA 2014" above.

Miss South Carolina USA Christina Zapolski: Just by looking at this photo, I can see why this six-foot tall beauty may be one of the favorites to take the crown; she looks like an All-American Olympic Skier/Volleyball/Surfing Champion. In regards to the gown, it's an impressive choice for Christina. The Mermaid shape is perfect for her and the strawberry-red color shines against her blond hair and skin. I also love that her hairstyle is modern, young, un-done but still quite red carpet. Once again, I may not have styled it with the big ol' "Miss Venezuela"-like earrings but, I am #not #hating.

Gown Score: 9.5

More "Very Good" Red Gown Ladies:

Miss Texas USA Lauren Guzman (left): Lauren looks chic, modern and red carpet-ready in this red gown with sequined waist and shoulder strap detail. It's a perfect example of how you can make the same impact in a simpler dress as opposed to a Big Ol' Krazee Mermaid "McMansion" of a Gown (those will be on my following blog post, kids!). And just a note: I could TOTALLY see Lauren as the "Entertainment Reporter" for "Access Hollywood"...or at the very least, she's the new gorgeous weather anchor for a top Texas local news station!

Gown Score: 9.4

Miss Missouri USA Erica Sturdefant (right): I think Erica looks sexy and modern in this Herve Leger-like sheath of a red gown. It's simple, to-the-point and really highlights her figure and in a non-vulgar way. It's so NOT a "Pageant Gown" and I'm so happy she wore it. That's why she's one of my Top Gown picks.

Gown Score: 9.4

Miss Maine USA Samantha Dahlborg: Naturally, what first got my attention was the photo and the fluttery chiffon overlay of the gown. It's like there was a fan but only on one half of her gown. Speaking of the gown, I like it. The rust/gray and teal gown features a plunging neckline, silver sequin applique at the waist/midriff and gathered bust. It is elegant and very "Spartan Queen". I give her (or her "Glam Squad' team) points for keeping the hair simple and elegant and avoiding the accessories; the gown is enough.

Gown score: 9.3

Miss Wisconsin USA Bishara Dorre: I LOVE the bright canary yellow color of this gown. I think it's perfect against Bishara's beautiful skin color. I also like the dress style--with the sequined bodice, defined waist and gathered full chiffon skirt. Her hair, drop earrings, and MILLION DOLLAR Smile finish the look. She looks sweet but above all very pretty; it's the perfect silhouette (and color) of a dress for her.

Gown Score: 9.3 

Miss Connecticut USA Desiree Perez: This black strapless gown may not be as "impacting' as some of the others (see below), but the fit is flawless and the simple elegant style is what leads me to put it here as one of my Top Gown Picks from the Miss USA 2014 Evening Gown Portraits. I like the draped/knotted bust and silver sequined "crown"-like midriff detail. Good job Connecticut!

Gown Score: 9.3

Miss California USA Cassandra Kunze: I am adding Cassandra--and this gown--in my "Top Gown" blog post just because she looks fun Disco Fabulous! Seriously, this golden/copper sequined gown is like a Disco Ball--a Sexy Disco Ball at that! It's impacting and Va Va Voom in its style and unabashed high-wattage factor. I don't think the come-hither-I-will-steal-your-husband-away pose helps but overall, she's owning this gown and I would hang out with her in this dress.

Gown Score: 9.0

Miss Oregon USA Emma Pelett: Finally, I placed Emma and this gown here because of the overt 50's Hollywood Glamour Goddess silhouette of this gown. the jewel blue taffeta gown features diagonal draping and pleating that ends up in a side "fall" with silver sequined accents at the side waist. It's the only one of its type within the Miss USA Evening Gown Portraits and it stood out for me. Her side-swept hair style worked but I would have done without the bracelet/cuff; the gown is enough.

Gown score: 9.0

***NEXT UP: My Picks for the "Uh Oh!" and "OOOOOH GURL!" Gowns from the Miss USA 2014 Evening Gown Portraits!!!

New Queen: Miss USA

 New Queen: Miss USA 2014 Nia Sanchez--Miss USA 2014 Finals, Baton Rouge River Center, Baton Rouge Louisiana

Last night were the Finals of Miss USA 2014. Fifty one contestants were vying for the top crown and of course, there could only be one winner. The 63rd Miss USA is Nia Sanchez "Miss Nevada USA". She stands 1.73 m (5' 8") and is 24 years old. Sanchez was born in Sacramento, California and is no stranger to pageants, in fact she was Miss Citrus Valley, Miss Hollywood USA 2011 and Second Runner-Up to Miss California USA 2011...

She is the FIRST Miss Nevada to ever be crowned Miss USA and the fourth Hispanic to win the title in it's pageant history. And if you watched the Finals last night, you also found out that Nia holds a 4th degree black belt in the Korean martial art of Taekwando. Incidentally, Shanna Moakler, who became Miss USA 1995 after Chelsi Smith won Miss Universe is currently the Miss Nevada USA Pageant Director. So congrats to her as well. It is somewhat poetic that for the last six years, the Miss USA Pageant had been held in Las Vegas Nevada and this year changed venues to Louisiana and it is now that Miss Nevada took the Top Crown! 

The Show: As I said above, the Miss USA 2014 Finals were held in the Baton Rouge River Center in Baton Rouge Louisiana. They were televised live on NBC as a three-hour show (It seemed a bit too long if you ask me, and I LOVE me some pageants!).

The intro featured a Mardi Gras Extravaganza of an opening number with the 51 contestants "riding" onto the stage on colorful, bedazzled and feathered floats. It was quite fabulous and worthy of a "Miss Universe" opening number as opposed to well, just Miss USA. For the Intro, the contestants wore mini sequined and appliqued cocktail dresses and ensembles. While I understood that they went with the whole festive/party Mardi Gras/over-the-top staging, some of the styles were two minutes from being a little Tacky-licious.

The Hosts: Thomas Roberts--who replaced Bravo's Andy Cohen after Cohen refused to host the Miss Universe Pageant last year in Russia for obvious reasons--and Giuliana Rancic did a great job hosting the Miss USA 2014 Pageant along with Jeannie Mai who did "Color Commentary". And ever the Fashionista, Giuliana made us fashion-watchers proud as she did three gown changes. #AtAGurl . Which Giuliana Rancic gown was YOUR fave?

Universal Judge: It was wonderful seeing the elegant and timeless beauty of Barbara Palacios Teyde Miss Universe 1986, the third Miss Venezuela to capture the Miss Universe crown. And yes kids, that's her back in 1986, TWENTY-EIGHT years ago when she won (right photo)...

La Diva: Barbara was recently named one of the Judges of the new Miss Latina Universo Pageant and Reality TV Show on Telemundo (part of the NBC/Universal family which co-owns Miss Universe/Miss USA), which for the first time in Miss Universe history, will choose one Latina beauty from the US to compete in the Miss Universe Pageant (date and location later to be determined).

Now, lets get to the important part: Recap/Review of the Final Telecast Evening Gowns:

Gown Parade: During last night's Live Telecast, there were the Intros of the 51 contestants and then a LOOOOONG drawn-out announcing of the Top 20. These Top 20 then competed in Swimsuit in front of the "celebrity" Live Telecast judges and then the Top 20 were whittled down to Top 10. These Semi-Finalists then competed in my favorite part of the pageant: the Evening Gown Competition...

For the Final Telecast, most of the contestants wore the same gown they had worn a couple of nights before at the Preliminaries (which chose who the Top 20 would be) yet some--including the winner--changed. Let's get to the Gowns:

Miss Nevada USA--and eventual Miss USA 2014--Nia Sanchez: Nia changed her gown for the Live Telecast. For the Prelims, she wore the lemon yellow Mermaid-style gown with sequined torso applique seen in photo below. I thought that this was a bit over-the-top and Gay Pride Float-like so I'm kind of happy she changed...

Obviously, Nia likes that mermaid silhouette because for the Finals, she wore that shape again, with decidedly less "Parade Float" poufs and no sequined applique. The red strapless gown featured a center slit opening, side stiffened flounces and side waist cascades. It was a nice gown but if there was any critique, it was too tight and it could have done without those side waist cascades. The bottom detail and bodice drape should have been enough and the center front slit was odd on such a structured gown.

Gown Score: 8.7

Miss North Dakota USA Audra Mari: First Runner-Up Audra wore an emerald satin gown with "one-shoulder" draped bodice detail sewn over nude illusion. The dress also had a sequined waistband. She also wore this same gown for the Preliminaries. I was a bit perplexed by this gown and not a fan to be honest. It seemed a little sloppy and lacked the sophistication and amazing execution one would see from a high level pageant gown. I also didn't understand why the designers--or whoever made this gown--would put a big ol' WHITE zipper on the side, for all to see.

Gown score: 8.5

Miss Georgia USA Tiana Griggs: Second Runner-Up Tiana wore the same gown she had worn for the Preliminary Competition. The strapless gown was in the ever so-popular Mermaid shape and featured a golden crystal bustier and white satin skirt section. The gown worked for Tiana, in both its shape and gold/ivory coloring. She also has the elegance and deportment to pull it off. I just wished it didn't have that illusion center front panel; I'm NOT a fan of the illusion center chest panels that have now become almost de rigueur for these "Prom-&-Pageant" gowns. But I get it, these women want PLUNGING but not really, since their "sisters" would literally be spilling out if that panel wasn't there.

Gown Score: 8.9

Miss Louisiana USA Brittany Guidry: Brittany was arguable one of the most beautiful contestants of this year's Miss USA. She was the "local girl" and the fave to take the crown. And when it came to the Evening Gown competition, she did not disappoint: this was my favorite evening gown of the Preliminaries and also during last night's telecast.

The color was stunning; the fit was perfect; the jeweled drop-shoulder bodice and empire-waisted multi-layered georgette skirt was sublime. Brittany looked regal and almost on a whole other level than the rest of the contestants. And maybe too regal and too unapproachable and therefore, she ended up with the Third Runner-Up position in the end. But for her Gown, she gets FIRST...

Gown Score: 9.8

Miss Florida USA Brittany Oldehoff: 4th Runner-Up Brittany Oldehoff wore this same gown to the Prelims and I liked it then. The "dripping" bugle beaded sequined fringe was stage perfect. Oh and yes, there's that nude/illusion center breast panel (WHY???). Speaking of breasts, if there was any critique, it's the fact that the gown was too tight up top and made her cha-cha's look smooshed.

Gown Score: 9.0

Miss Iowa Carlyn Bradarich: Carlyn was another absolute stunner in terms of her beauty as well as her gown. This was another favorite of mine from the Prelims and I'm glad she wore it for the Finals. The black velvet column gown is regal, emphasizes her statuesque frame and the neckline sequin detail is beautiful. She looks CLASSY and sexy all at the same time in this gown. It's a perfect example that there's no need to show Tacky-licious Cleavage and have a SLIT to your nether regions to get attention (read below on that).

Gown Score: 9.5

Miss California USA Cassandra Kunze: First off, Cassandra is VA VA Voom Gorgeous: look at that body! This is a Straight Man's Arm-Candy Dream! (or at least I would assume so!). I love her hair and Starlet-like makeup. Now, onto the gown: it's a pretty gown and fits her to a "T". Unfortunately, I just think she is doing her beauty a major disservice by showing SO MUCH SKIN; I'm distracted by her "sisters" and the too-high slit--it's so not necessary. This gown would have been more elegant--yet still sexy--an inch and half higher on the neckline and with no slit. It was "Too Mucheey". Oh and then there are those shoes! Sadly it seems that every contestant had to wear these Chinese Laundry platform heels and I'm not a fan.

Gown Score: 8.5

Miss Maryland Taylor Burton: Taylor wore this gown for the Preliminary Competition. The dusty rose completely beaded halter-style gown featured a keyhole neckline and jeweled neck-piece, and...

...a very high side front slit. I was a little scared for her when she was lifting it because it was getting DANGEROUSLY close to seeing something you wouldn't want to see on Primetime National TV. I like the gown, it just didn't need that slit. And yes, once again those AWFUL putty colored Stripper Heels.

Gown Score: 8.5

Miss South Carolina USA Christina Zapolski: Six foot tall stunner Christina Zapolski wore a Mermaid-style strapless ivory colored gown featuring a sequined torso and multi-layered organza bottom half. This gown fit Christina perfectly and was one of my favorites of the Prelims (she wore the same gown). She looks like the "Dream Child" of models Christie Brinkley and Elle Macpherson.

Gown Score: 9.4

Miss Wisconsin USA Bishara Dorre: The final contestant who made the Top Ten and therefore got the chance to be in the Final Evening Gown Competition was Miss Wisconsin. Bishara looked fabulous in this strapless canary yellow gown with beaded bustier and multi-layered georgette skirt. From head to toe, she looked great! I know that this style also had that illusion center front panel but who cares when you look like Bishara. And boy, did she WORK that skirt OVERTIME! #AtAGurl

Gown Score: 9.5

Congratulations to the new Miss USA, Nevada's Nia Sanchez!! And Best of Luck at Miss Universe. Miss USA has a Latina representative and soon the Miss Universe Pageant will have another one, with it's Miss Latina Universo pick.