On Sunday night at Beirut’s Forum de Beyrouth, millions of viewers tuned into MTV Lebanon as an all-star jury selected Maya Reaidy to take home the prestigious title of Miss Lebanon 2018. After much deliberation, the panel, which comprised of Nancy Ajram, the current Miss Universe Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters, and designer Nicolas Jebran, chose the Lebanese-Russian pageant queen, who is studying pharmacy at the Lebanese American University, to go on to compete for the Miss Universe 2018 Crown in Bangkok in December. “Judging started a couple of days before the ceremony, so we really got to know the girls through one-on-one interviews,” reveals Jebran to Vogue.me. The designer admits it was his first time judging a Miss Lebanon beauty pageant. “The feeling that you are contributing to selecting the Queen who will represent the country is indescribable.”
In addition to being a member of the jury, Jebran was also tasked with creating not only the 22-year-old winner’s turquoise, feathered design, or first runner-up Mira Toufaily’s body-fitting, sequined gown, but all of the contestant’s dresses for the ceremony. “I met with each girl several times in order to create something that I believed they truly deserved,” adds the couturier, whose client list includes the likes of Beyoncé, Jennifer Lopez, and Kylie Jenner. “I spent a lot of time getting to know the contestants and their different personalities, so I could create something that really reflected their distinct characters.”
Of course, prior to the ceremony, Jebran had no idea that Reaidy would go on to claim the title. “While designing, I kept in mind that any of them could be the winner,” he says speaking about the 30 different fairytale gowns he dreamed up for the candidates. When it came to creating Reaidy’s jaw-dropping look, the designer took her physical features into consideration. “I chose a color that complements her light-colored hair and eyes,” he reveals. “It was fit for a princess.” Or, in Maya’s case, a Queen.