On Friday 15 July 2022, former Miss South Africa Lalela Mswane reigned supreme at the 13th annual Miss Supranational pageant in Nowy Sącz, Poland.
Lalela took home the crown, beating out 69 other contestants, including runner-up Miss Thailand, Miss Venezuela, Miss Vietnam and Miss Indonesia who all came in behind her. She made history by being the first black woman to ever win the title.
“I am overwhelmed; at the moment it still feels surreal. I am deeply thankful to all the amazing people who have supported and uplifted me, I couldn’t have done it without them. I want to thank the organisers of Miss Supranational, the Polish people, all my fellow contestants, the Miss South Africa Organisation and my South African fans. This title is not mine alone, it is South Africa’s victory,” said Lalela after the pageant via statement.
The beauty queen, who hails from KwaSokhulu in Richards Bay, KwaZulu-Natal, wore an intricately-designed corset dress by Johannesburg-based Willet Designs Couture while winning the award. The dress featured an embellished corset, draped sheer skirt and off-the-shoulder top.
For her national costume, she wore a showstopping Zulu-inspired printed dress by designer Lloyd Kandlin.
“I descend from a proud and strong warrior tribe, the revered Zulu nation – renowned for its prowess on and off the battlefield. My national costume captures some of my unassailable heritage.” Lalela said of the dress.
Designer Lloyd also used traditional beading techniques and incorporated a feminine silhouette using a beaded corset and long flowing skirt to represent Lalela as a “beautiful African Queen.”
The dress however, was more than just a costume for the show. “This is a very special costume. I am not just representing the Zulu people, I am an ambassador for the South African people and I take your support, love and blessings to Poland with me as well,” Lalela wrote on Instagram.
Another striking design was Lalela’s cocktail outfit by Juan William Aria. The outfit featured an off-the shoulder feathered top and midi skirt with mirrored-mosaic detailing - a wearable art piece if ever there was one.
For the preliminary show, Lalela wore another custom Willet Designs Couture creation. This time, the design was a sparkly, sheer strapless gown with tassel detail and matching gloves - an innovative take on the popular naked dress.
After her win, the 24-year-old model changed into a virginal white gown by Jolandie Fouche of Jolache Couture. She accesorised with her Miss Supranational sash and diamond head crown.