From the sidelines

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In preliminary rounds of competition at the Miss Earth pageant, Japan's Marina Kishira bagged the Best National Costume award on November 13 at the Sea Links City Resort in Phan Thiet.

Earlier, India's Nicole Faria was crowned Miss Talent.

After being in sidelines for much of the competition, Marina Kishira made a statement by defeating 75 other contestants in the National Costume Competition.

"Simple and elegant" gown along with a "dramatic performance" helped Marina Kishira win Miss National Costume

She sashayed down the ramp in a sleek black gown with intricate designs inspired by Irezumi, Japanese art of tattooing. The blend of traditional designs in a sophisticated silhouette beautifully portrayed the modern Japanese woman.

Nguyen Cong Khe, member of the judges panel and head of the organizing board, said Kishira bagged the title not just because of her "simple but elegant" dress but also because of her "dramatic and striking performance."

"I wore this dress to bring hope and to show a different world for the modern Japanese women - who are not associated with kimono costumes anymore," said Kishira.

"This award is for Japan and the significance of this outfit," she said.

Audiences, who were impartial until the National Costume round, are now strongly rooting for Japan's Kishira.

Kishira has been lucky to find an "unexpected" interpreter, a reporter from a local newspaper.

She's often seen with an iPad a symbol of the technophilia prevalent in Japan. To the world press and audiences, Kishira has become an icon of the modern Japanese woman.

In keeping with the environmental theme of the pageant, many of the 76 contestants wore costumes representing their countries' climate, natural resources, flora and fauna.

Other favorites during the competition were the brightly colored costumes of beauty queens from Mexico, Brazil, Chile, and Ecuador.

Miss Ecuador is also a strong contender for the prized Miss Earth crown.

In response to a question about her gown, she said it represented her country's vivid oceans.

Her translations of Miss Brazil's responses also won her points with the audiences and media.

"I love Miss Chile's bronze gown. It is a tribute to her nation's natural bronze resources and the great escape of the miners recently in San Jose. What a meaningful costume," said Huy Bao, an audience.

Due to their busy schedule, the contestants try to catch forty winks at anytime

Miss Vietnam Luu Thi Diem Huong is also among top-favorites on the Missology website. Her peers say Huong is a fresh and warm person with a bright, dimpled smile.

Despite their busy schedules, the contestants must always appear beautiful and smiling for photo-ops.

However, according to Minh Loi, a photojournalist, it is the constant "performance" that makes it hard for him to get a "real and natural" portrait.

"What the lens can grab is usually faultless beauty. Sometimes, we need more than an airbrushed photo which barely says anything," said Loi.

That is why the photos of contestants talking on the phone with their families, video-chatting, applying first-aid, or even dozing off, are media favorites.

In some of the most poignant photos from this year's pageant, Miss Madagascar has been captured catching a cat-nap, and Miss Canada was shown with a laptop displaying the beauty of Vietnam to her boyfriend at home.

Miss Guyana and her mother

Miss Guyana seems to have a strong support in her mother, who has accompanied her daughter to Vietnam. The mother-daughter duo said they are enjoying their first time here and are sure to come back.

The journey to the crown will end on December 4 for the 76 environmental ambassadors of the Miss Earth pageant. With barely two weeks to go, all contestants are putting their best foot forward, showing their dedication to various environmental causes.

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