Miss Namibia 2021, Chelsi Shikongo will be sashaying down the Miss Universe catwalk like a proud flamingo with calculated and carefully rehearsed steps.
Flamingos symbolise beauty, balance, and grace, qualities Shikongo possess in bucketloads.
And like the elegant long-legged flamingos on Namibia’s coast, Shikongo will be the pride of the entire Namibian nation on that international stage in Jerusalem, Israel 12 December.
“Her national costume is an ode to the beautiful hues of pink salt pans and their well-loved flamingos,” said Miss Namibia pageant national director, Connie Maritz.
Shikongo’s hometown, Walvis Bay, sports the largest solar sea salt company in sub-Saharan Africa.
The off-white bodysuit is detailed with salt crystals, while the off-white chiffon cape and long train was hand-dyed towards the bottom to represent the water of the pans and pink of the flamingos. The head/neckpiece incorporates Odelela fabric of black stripes on a pink background constructed and weaved like the palm leave baskets made by the Awaambo people of northern Namibia.
It took six artisans 150 hours to create the gem.
Speaking to VIBEZ! Simeone Johannes, one of the designers behind the masterpiece and crème de la crème of the fashion industry, said creating a national costume was the scariest but beautiful thing ever.
“There was so much pressure and expectations from the entire nation,” he said, adding that although he was happy with the overall results, he feels it could have been even more amplified, but the country does not have the necessary resources to create magnificent national costumes like those of other countries.
Being a part of a bigger group that created the costume, Johannes added that he also had such a great experience collaborating with fellow creatives to help bring Chelsi’s vision to life.
“The brief was straight to the point and everyone made sure to make the overall process as smooth as possible. I was working hand-in-hand with Andeline Wieland, who played the biggest role in the design and execution of the costume. We bounced around concepts, sketches, and mood boards. I also made the cape, which she later hand-dyed,” he mentioned.
Other designers who helped bring the vision to life include The Snow-White Project, Anna Ward Shilongo, Jolene Visser, and Bettina Thomas.