By CityLife Arts Writer
Pint-sized powerhouse Ayanda Thabethe, Miss South Africa 2022 runner-up and the country’s representative at the 14th edition of the Miss Supranational 2023, has been one of the pageant’s favourites during the build-up to the finale.
Miss Supranational 2023 takes place on Friday evening, July 14, at the Strzelecki Park Amphitheatre in Nowy Sącz, Poland when the winner will be crowned by her3 predecessor reigning Miss Supranational and Miss South Africa 2021 Lalela Mswane.
There will be live coverage of the pageant on Miss Supranational’s YouTube channel.
This week Thabethe unveiled her preliminary dress which was designed by Juan Visser of the brand Juan William Aria, who is also responsible for her Miss Supranational finale evening gown. He has designed for many Miss South Africa title holders and the pageant finale. Famous clients include Miss Universe title holders Demi-Leigh Tebow and Zozibini Tunzi, Nandi Madida and Anele Mdoda.
He explains the inspiration for the gown: “The turquoise gown was inspired by the beautiful KwaZulu-Natal coastline and its bright ocean waters. Ayanda feels spiritually connected to water so we knew that we needed to draw inspiration from water as it was so close to her heart. In both gowns we played a lot with transparency and contrast. When Ayanda walked in the turquoise gown, we achieved the effect of crashing ocean waves. Our main goal with both the gowns was to be daring, bold and, most importantly, impactful.”
Visser says that Thabethe had considerable input with the designs: “It’s very important that her gowns are not just beautiful but have a special meaning to her so she will feel her most beautiful and confident. Both her gowns are bold and impactful and I think that sums up Ayanda’s personality. Both gowns were hand crafted and beaded and took more than 100 hours each to complete.”
This week Thabethe also won one of the top five Miss Supranational slots after a set of brilliant answers during the finals of #suprachat 2023, along with Canada, India, Peru and the Philippines. She was asked questions by Supranational News reporter, Ivan Padrez.
To a question that asked whether Love, Time or Death had given her a life-changing lesson, Ayanda responded Death. She told of her first experience with grief in Grade 10, speaking of the trauma and pain of losing her athletics partner who did not survive a routine surgery. Her biggest regret has been not going to her friend’s funeral, of not saying goodbye to her. She uses this memory of grief as a reminder of the preciousness of life and has taught her to cherish every single day.
Asked about an important method of communication, besides language, that she uses in her life, Thabethe said: “I think it’s how we show love. My love language is showering people with gifts. I also reciprocate feelings when someone shows me love.”
To the question about why she chose the Miss Supranational Experience given that “beauty queens are the subject of harsh criticism and booing” she said entering pageants is empowering for women, teaching them leadership skills. “It’s like a boot camp for women. It allows me to grow. About the bullying, you can choose to lock out the negativity and focus on the good things.”
The Miss South Africa Organisation CEO Stephanie Weil paid tribute to reigning Miss Supranational Lalela Mswane while also sending a message of support to Thabethe. Mswane represented South Africa at the Miss Universe pageant held in Eilat, Israel in 2021 and placed second runner-up. She went on to win 13th Miss Supranational title in July 2022.
“Lalela follows in the impressive footsteps of a number of Miss South Africa title holders who have done well on the international stage. We are so proud of Lalela’s amazing achievements during the past two years and wish her well going forward. We can’t wait to see what she does next. Ayanda has already captured the hearts of many during her time in Poland; she always gives it her all and we know she is going to do the country proud.”
Miss South Africa is presented by Weil Entertainment in association with Sun International. SABC3 is the official broadcast partner.