Inside the Making of a Gown (A. Nugent)

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GUEST BLOG: Venezuelan gown designer Gionni Straccia with Ali Nugent

Ali Nugent was the second Miss Texas USA I had the privilege to dress.

I met her through Julie Roberts, the owner of the boutique Elizabeth Anthony in Houston, TX and from the very beginning I knew the beautiful combination of light colored eyes, dark hair, and light skin tone had to be the focal point of attention.

Ali Side by Side

Design for Bianca Aljibes - Miss Venezuela International 2012

Every time I design a custom gown, I like to sit down with the customer and hear the ideas she has about her dress.

Whether it is a specific fabric, a color, or the event she is going to wear it this case there was no difference.


Miss Venezuela Universe 2012's gown

I sat with Ali and her team at the store and Ali was very open to any ideas.

She trusted my work and gave me the freedom to design, so the process began.

First, she started trying on some of my other gowns, just to see what shapes and colors worked best for her and while she was at it I was coming up with possible designs…

One of the pieces she tried on was a red 4 ply crepe dress I had designed for Blanca Aljibes, the Venezuelan contestant for Miss International 2012.

She loved it and the color made a perfect match with her skin tone, hair color and eyes, but for obvious reasons I could not repeat it, so I designed something similar.

"The inspiration for my gown came from a combination of a Gionni Straccia gown that was designed [for Miss Venezuela International 2012] and the the emerald green long sleeve gown that Miss Venezuela wore at Miss Universe 2012. I actually tried on that exact gown in person and fell in love with the fit! Jewel tones have always been my "go to". I feel they look best on me and so that’s why I chose the shade of red that I did.

The mixture between the gold and silver and clear beads and stones was so beautifully done on another design that I wanted to bring that into my gown in some form. The fabric chosen was Gionni’s most popular fabric choice I believe. The way it hugs you and fits is so flawless and beautiful that you cant help but fall in love with it."

-Ali Nugent


Gionni's original sketch for Ali's gown

The final version was this spectacular red 4 ply crepe gown, beaded with Swarovski crystals, plus silver and gold rhinestones, with a very sexy neckline.

The beading was done only in the torso, because as I mentioned previously, I wanted all the attention to be in Ali’s upper body. The crepe fabric added fluidness and grace to her walk.

Since I was not going to see Ali again before the pageant, I did a fitting using a standard muslin I had already brought with me. The great thing about her is that she has an incredible body and I barely had to make any alterations to the muslin.

Ali Fitting

Ali fitting her gown for the first time

After that, the rest is history, by mid April Ali was at Elizabeth Anthony picking up her gown and ready to leave the audience speechless.

Having over 18 years designing gowns for the Miss Venezuela, Miss World, Miss Universe and now for Miss USA pageant contestants,  I still get excited about every single girl that competes with one of my gowns.

It is extremely rare that I miss watching a pageant because it is important for me to see the girl perform on stage and even if it is from a distance, support and cheer for her.

It is also an opportunity to be my hardest critic. With Ali Nugent it was not the exception.

I loved the grace and poise with which she carried the gown and I was a little bit sad when she was not called into the Top 5, but you could imagine my happiness when she was picked as the 6th finalist based on the number of tweets received!

I like to think that somehow, my dress, was part of that whole team work that accompanied her that night.

Miss USA 2013, Telecast, Evening Gown, Top 10

(photos by Miss Universe Organization, Gionni Straccia, and Ali Nugent)

This article was written by Guest Blogger