For her moment of crowning glory, Harnaaz dazzled in a gorgeous gown curated by celebrity designer Saisha Shinde, who has worked with beauty queens like Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Sushmita Sen and even dressed Bollywood royalty, including Kareena Kapoor Khan.
In an exclusive conversation with Saisha, we found out what went behind creating the masterpiece for Miss Universe 2021.
How would you describe Harnaaz Sandhu as a person? How was it working for her?
When I met Harnaaz for the first time, I realised this girl is extremely centred and most importantly so well behaved! She had such respect for not just me but also my team, the ‘thank you’ was not limited only to me but also my karigars and Masterji. She is always with a smile, I think that speaks volumes about how she is as a person. Every time she would leave my office I would pray, “God, please let this girl win Miss Universe!”
Describe the dress of Harnaaz that everyone is talking about…
For Harnaaz’s gown, we took inspiration from the geometric and symmetric pattern of the phulkari motif which is synonymous with Punjab. I modernised it by making it abstract and simultaneously we had vertical lines which fanned out making her look even taller. Finally, the whole look came together with the strings of Swarovski chains cascading down in the front, giving it a waterfall effect. The gown took about 25 days to finish with intricate and extremely delicate hand embroidery made of bugel beads, Swarovski crystals and chains.
Your best memory with Harnaaz? Anything about her that you liked the most?
I can never forget when we first met for fittings. She had mentioned to me that she always dreamt of this moment, her discussing the final gown with me in my office. I was touched by how dedicated her dream was.
Apart from the professional high, what made the big win even more special on a personal level was that Saisha came out as transgender early this year. She is not only setting the bar high for the fashion world but is also making the LGBTQIA+ community proud.