Lebanese designer Nadim Soudaiha

By Nawara Fattahova

The shimmery red fringe gown worn by Miss Universe 2020 Andrea Meza from Mexico while being crowned on May 16, 2021 was allegedly copied from a gown designed by Nadim Soudaiha, a Lebanese designer based in Kuwait. Soudaiha was surprised by the intellectual theft of one of his gowns, which he designed four years ago. "Actually the international media found out the dress that Miss Universe was wearing during the ceremony was copied from my design, but in a different color," he told Kuwait Times.

Pictures of Soudaiha's golden gown were posted in 2017 on his personal account on Instagram, as well as on the account of La Bourjoisie with a detailed video. He also participated with this design in a fashion show held in Kuwait in the same year. "American singer Carrie Underwood also wore it in 2017 during a popular awards show, where she was the main host," he added.

Miss Universe 2020 Andrea Meza

"It took me around 10 days to design this dress that was made from tulle with Swarovski crystals and fringe beads. But stylist Jacob de Alba revealed in an Instagram post that Andrea's gown was designed by Ivis Lenin, and that this haute couture dress took almost a year to put together," Soudaiha said.

Soudaiha came to Kuwait 17 years ago and started working for La Bourjoisie. He is saddened that his design appeared at a huge event like Miss Universe but his name was not mentioned. "On the other hand, there is a positive side to the story - that my designs have reached faraway places, and although this design was old, it was copied for such a big occasion. I have mixed feelings towards what happened," he added.

According to Soudaiha, this story gets more interesting as he is originally from Mexico. "The designer of the stolen dress is Mexican, the Miss Universe winner is also Mexican and my grandmother is Mexican as well. I think this information drew media attention, which is why they published the story," he concluded.