Michelle Dee turned heads in an Apo Whang-Od-inspired gown at her grand homecoming parade on Sunday, Nov. 10.
During the event held at the SM Mall of Asia Complex in Pasay City, the country's Miss Universe bet this year greeted her supporters in a white bodice with a tattoo-esque beaded sleeve, straight-cut structure pants, and a flowy train.
According to its designer Mark Bumgarner, the beauty queen's chosen outfit is a "remix" of her evening look at the Miss Universe 2023 pageant.
"I wanted to incorporate the Kalinga tattoo design on the dress in a very subtle way as an homage to her Miss Universe finals gown," Mark told PhilSTAR L!fe.
"I wanted to create something that won't restrict MMD's movement during the parade. This design is true to my aesthetic: structured, clean, elegant," he continued, adding that its "edgy look" was intended to highlight the beauty queen's style and personality.
The Pinoy designer also revealed that they initially considered wearing the original Whang-Od gown to the affair but decided to make some changes.
"Her evening gown has been dubbed as 'iconic,' so it's just fitting that she wears a dress with a similar idea but executed differently. It's a fresh take on the tattoo design concept," he explained.
Michelle finished off her look with Jewelmer's golden South Sea Pearl diamond earrings, Jojo Bragais shoes, and, of course, her Miss Universe Philippines 2023 crown.
During her Unang Hirit interview last Nov. 27, Michelle talked about her Miss Universe 2023 gown and revealed that the iconic mambabatok is also aware of its concept.
"Alam niya that my gown was inspired by her," she said, adding that they are planning to meet soon. They were supposed to do so in October but it didn’t push through due to schedule conflicts.
Michelle returned to the country on Nov. 26—a week after the Miss Universe 2023 competition that took place on Nov. 19 (Philippine time) in El Salvador. She finished her journey to the crown in the Top 10 and bagged special recognitions, including "Voice for Change," Carnival Cruise Award, and Best in National Costume.
"Feels good to be back home. With or without the crown, all of you made me feel like I was a winner," she wrote in an Instagram post.
Michelle has also been named the country's new tourism ambassador early this month.
"I’ve always been proud to call the Philippines my home and to call myself Pinoy. To be able to work closely with the Department of Tourism to achieve our shared goal of promoting Filipinas is a dream come true," Michelle said on Instagram, calling it a "full circle moment."
"Maraming salamat sa tiwala," she added. (with reports from Melanie Uson)