On Sunday, Miss Belize will compete in the Philippines against 85 other women from across the world for the title of Miss Universe.
Her evening gown, however, is from a Carrollton dress shop.
Shimmer Boutique is owned and operated by Larissa Maner, who has been in the pageant and prom dress business for years. Her shop is a sponsor for the Miss Texas organization and she has helped dress women in the Miss America and Miss USA pageants. Miss Universe will be her highest achievement.
Rebecca Rath first stopped by Shimmer Boutique with her Texan godmother before competing in Miss Belize.
“When she came into my store, she was a beautiful girl, she was well spoken, and she just kind of had the look,” Maner says. “So when she said she was competing for Miss Belize, I kind of jokingly said, ‘We’re going to help you win the pageant and if you win the pageant, I want to dress you for Miss Universe.’ And she said, ‘Oh, I’m gonna win! I’m gonna win!’ So we were all kind of joking about it but being half serious.”
After Rath won Miss Belize, her first pageant ever, she texted Maner to help find her an evening gown. With the OK from her director and sponsors, she traveled to Carrollton in October to begin her search for an evening gown for the Miss Universe pageant.
Dress designer Fernando Wong designed an evening gown that Maner says Rath loves.
“Her evening gown was picked from a swatch of fabric. We had looked at other gowns, we had talked to her about different dresses, she tried on some samples,” Maner says. “And we started out with one dress and the dress we ended up with was completely opposite. Nothing she ever thought she’d be wearing. It’s really gorgeous. It’s going to be amazing.”
Maner says a woman’s personality plays a significant role in what kind of dress she wears. Typically, a woman tries on an average of four dresses before finding one she loves.
Maner also explains that if a woman is competing at the national level, like Miss America or Miss USA, their evening gown must be altered so the other competitors don’t recognize it.
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“In the pageant world, the girls are very educated on the gowns, so we don’t want anyone to say, ‘Oh, that’s a that gown, or that’s this designer gown.’ We want it to be something different, unique and original,” Maner says.
Maner’s knowledge of pageant evening gowns is extensive. However, she has never competed in a pageant herself, she just taught herself about the world.
“I’ve watched pageants all my life. When I was little, I watched them. I was 3 years old and loved the evening gown portion of it and one day, I said, ‘I want to dress someone from Miss America.’ And lo and behold, in my 40s, I started dressing girls for Miss America. I couldn’t believe it. I was very excited,” she says.
Watch Miss Universe at 6 p.m. Sunday on FOX to see Miss Belize’s dress.