MOSCOW – Newly crowned Miss Universe, Maria Gabriela Isler of Venezuela, took up her duties in Moscow on Sunday, wearing a jewel-studded swimming costume valued at $1 million.
Isler, 25, spoke to reporters a day after winning the title at a glitzy ceremony at a Moscow concert hall, saying she had stayed up all night talking to friends and family on the phone.
“I feel very happy to share my first day as Miss Universe,” Isler said. “I’m a simple girl. I just came to have fun, to enjoy the moment — and here I am.”
She said she felt “honored” at becoming the seventh Venezuelan Miss Universe, triumphing over 85 other women at the first competition held in Russia in its 61-year history.
Isler wowed the judges, including Aerosmith singer Steve Tyler, with her appearances in a bikini and sparkly silver evening dress.
She then won the final interview round by saying in response to a question about her greatest fear: “We should overcome all our fears and this in turn will make us much stronger.”
As the new face of an Italian lingerie company, she posed in a Moscow hotel in a white cutaway swimming costume featuring an emerald pendant and swirls of diamonds and rubies, with a fur boa wrapped around the hips.
“It’s very simple but very elegant, so it’s like me,” she said.
The organizers of Miss Universe said the costume was sewn with 900 stones and is worth $1 million (¥99.1 million).
“We do have armed guards, so don’t get any ideas,” quipped the president of the Miss Universe organization, Paula Shugart.
The organizers did not make clear whether the swimsuit was for sale. Isler said she did not know what would happen to it next, but she would like to keep it.
“I’m still asking: where are those guards, because I’ll run with it,” Isler joked, although her towering heels would have hindered an escape attempt from the hotel’s 20th floor.
The Miss Universe competition, which began in the United States as a promotional campaign for swimwear, includes several rounds in which the contestants are judged based on their appearance in bikinis and one-piece swimsuits.