Miss Universe South Africa, Natasha Joubert, has revealed some of the outfits she will be wearing when the 69th Miss Universe pageant takes place in Florida in the US on Sunday, May 16, when our own Zozibini Tunzi will crown her successor at the end of the event.

Twenty-three-year-old Joubert, a B. Comm graduate, believes she is fully prepared for Miss Universe: “My preparations started when I was crowned Miss Universe South Africa last year. I have been looking forward to this event from the moment of my crowning and will carry the Miss Universe South Africa title with pride. I know that I have big shoes to fill following in the footsteps of both Zozi and Demi-Leigh Nel- Peters.”

Joubert’s national costume – which she showed off at her Miss Universe farewell as part of her #DestinyDesigned virtual fashion show – has been designed by designer to the stars Gert-Johan Coetzee while Jolandie Fouche of Jolache Couture is responsible for a number of evening gowns for the pageant.

Joubert will be carrying the children of South Africa with her when she walks onto the international stage in her national costume, as the fabric wings of her unique gown have been printed with drawings made by young children from Diepsloot and Randburg. The artwork tells the story of pre-school children’s very personal experiences of lockdown and how the Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted their young lives.

Explains Coetzee, who also designed Demi-Leigh’s final dress when she handed over the Miss Universe crown to her successor in 2018: “We wanted to create something special and proudly South African. We not only created a garment to show off our skills and for dramatic effect, but it also had to be something truly meaningful and represent a cause close to Natasha’s heart. That is why we decided to take sketches from local children, to portray how they currently see the state of world in their own ‘words’. We took their actual sketches, digitised them and printed them on white flowy fabric and created an angelic silhouette for Natasha to symbolise overcoming hardship through guidance.”

Joubert is delighted with the result: “The children were amazing and came up with images that truly reflect the regulations of lockdown; some funny, others poignant and meaningful.

A number drew the usual pre-school child’s image of the family, only the mum, dad and brothers and sisters were drawn far apart to show social distancing,” she said, adding that the drawings really moved her.

Fadziso Matanhike, Maths Clubs facilitator at Diepsloot based Olico – an organisation that makes maths accessible to township children – said they were proud to be part of the Miss Universe South Africa costume design.

“These drawings represent the difficulties that children have faced during the Covid pandemic. We are very proud that this artwork will be worn by Miss Universe South Africa at the pageant, taking some of South Africa with her.”

Hendrene Mintcher, principal of Toddies Pre-school and Creche in Randburg said the youngsters “put so much feeling into the drawings”.

“They came up with images of greeting each other by knocking elbows, of them wearing masks, of social distancing and they showed what they’ve learnt about Covid and the precautions necessary to prevent its spread.”

It was her first-time designing evening gowns for an international pageant says Jolandie Fouche of Jolache Couture.

“Designing for a beauty pageant is very different from any other designs. Pageants are extremely competitive. You have to make sure that your dress will make a lasting impression on the judges for all the right reasons, while at the same time complimenting the contestant and accentuating her beauty and personality.

“These dresses are something totally different from what you have seen before. Our focus was definitely on structure, hues of colour and a mature elegance. I think South Africa will love what they see and Natasha, with her exceptional radiance, will stand out above all in these unique dresses,” she concludes.

Joubert revealed her national costume and other gowns at her #DestinyDesigned virtual fashion show to empower and showcase 13 local fashion designers. #DestinyDesigned was Joubert’s Miss Universe South Africa social cause initiative and is close to her heart as she is a fashion designer who started her own company, Natalia Jefferys, in 2016.

The Miss Universe pageant takes place on May 16 in the US (02h00 to 05h00 on May 17 SA time). The reigning Miss Universe, Zozibini Tunzi – who was crowned Miss South Africa in August 2019 and who, because of lockdown, is the longest reigning Miss Universe – will crown her successor at a glittering event at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida.

Miss South Africa is presented by Weil Entertainment in association with M-Net, Mzansi Magic, Sun International, Brand South Africa and the City of Cape Town. #DestinyDesigned was sponsored by financial services company MaxProf, Woolworths, Sparkle Cosmetics SA, House of BNG, KISCH IP and Veaudry.