“When I came out on stage there was a huge gasp in the audience, which was awesome. That was a surreal moment for me. ”
This was Miss Canada, Chanel Beckenlehner’s reaction after she walked out in this extravagant, homage-to-hockey getup at the “National Costume” portion of the 63rd annual Miss Universe Competition.
Beckenlehner also told CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) the original story of her plans and what she wanted to accomplish, “I approached Alex [Kavanagh] about five months ago in the beginning stages of the design progress. I contacted her because she was a specialist in her field, which is costume design for film and television. For Miss Universe, you need something that needs to be grand, have a large stage presence, and really catch the eye, but I wanted to take it into a new direction. A lot of the costumes year after year are based on feathers and are very large in scale, but I wanted to do something with a light element that would really put Canada on the map and then take it in a different direction.”
Alex Kavanagh, a TV and film costume designer who has worked on movies such as Saw II, Saw III, Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, and The Vow, was the designer of this one-of-a-kind dress. The dress included: ten hockey sticks in the form of wings, a working scoreboard, a skirt made from a hockey net, knee-high ice skates, and a Stanley Cup tiara on top of a Marie Antoinette style wig. Kavanagh said, “I wanted to help her make a splash on the stage. Indeed, the 11 kg costume made a splash on stage and also on Twitter.”
According to Beckenlehner, the dress took a total of five months to create and takes about 40 minutes to put on. She also told Sportsnet.ca, “The whole costume weighs about 20 pounds, and what’s really neat and what people didn’t get to see — because it’s underneath and I’m corseted in — is that I had a custom molding made of my back in order to support the scoreboard.” Many fans were impressed by her neck and core muscles ability to support both the wig and the scoreboard.
There were many mixed feelings and reactions to her outfit. Some felt that her costume was too stereotypically Canadian, while others loved the fact that she thought out-of-the-box and asked for something different from the typical Miss Universe outfit. Although her costume received some backlash, Beckenlehner states, “Canada is so multicultural; so coming up with one specific identity or one theme is extremely difficult, just because we have the world in one country. So we have to go with a theme that most people would understand on the world stage that: hockey is Canada. Like it or not, basically, at the end of the day, I love it, and that’s what counts. Quite honestly, it’s received so much exposure which is exactly what I wanted to do. I wanted to get noticed with this costume and I have achieved that.”
It is also difficult to think about a theme that would be attractive to both the judges in the audience when you live in such a frigid climate. “There is no one thing we wear, other than a puffy parka, that would be considered a Canadian costume; so instead we honed in on what is the biggest part of the national spirit: hockey.” While many picture toothless men with helmet hair and black eyes when they think of hockey, Beckenlehner and Kavanagh were able to take some of the sports elements and turn them into something beautiful. “I wanted to present that and showcase that we can make it glamorous and pageant-friendly and beautiful at the same time, showing how dedicated we are to that sport,” Beckenlehner told Sportsnet.ca.
Whether or not fans love or hate her dress, Beckenlehner is proud of the promotion and publicity her dress has given both her designer and her country. By the end of the night, photos of her posing on stage in her out-of-this-world costume accumulated all over social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr. “Whether that’s good reviews or bad reviews, we’re still getting talked about,” Miss Canada said. “At the end of the day, mission accomplished.”
Beckenlehner made it into the top five finalists by the end of the night and then the final decision went to fans on Twitter. Unfortunately for Miss Canada, Miss Indonesia (Elvira Devinamira) beat her out for best costume by the end of the competition, but Beckenlehner continues to receive plenty of publicity for her striking outfit.
“Some people really, really hate it and others really, really love it – but everyone has noticed it, that’s for sure.”