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Zozi Tunzi: Miss Universe Gowns are as Sky-high as her Stilettos

Here’s how much cash you’d need to splash if you want to steal the beauty queen’s iconic pageant looks. Birgit “Biji” Gibbs of Biji La Maiso...

Here’s how much cash you’d need to splash if you want to steal the beauty queen’s iconic pageant looks.

Birgit “Biji” Gibbs of Biji La Maison de Couture is the talented designer behind the one-of-a-kind looks Zozibini Tunzi wore on two once-in-a-lifetime occasions: the day she was crowned Miss Universe 2019, and the day she passed that title to her successor.

The sheer amount of skill, time and handwork that goes into crafting fully beaded couture creations such as these means they carry a much higher price tag than your average evening dress.

“I had never in my life invested as much time and effort into a garment as I did while making Tunzi's 2019 crowning gown,” says Biji.

Named the “Sunrise” gown, it took 1,400 hours and 132,000 beads to make. The price? R208,000, reports W24.

Factor in the cost of the dazzling Miss Universe “Power of Unity” crown — which features more than 1,700 diamonds — and you’d be looking at upwards of R70.6m to recreate Tunzi’s winning look.

This sombre creation is one of several celeb outfits now on display as part of the free #BespokeByBiji exhibition at The Diamond Walk in Sandton City, Johannesburg.
Zozibini Tunzi
Biji hopes to add the monochrome dress Tunzi donned during the recent Miss Universe pageant to the display, provided it arrives back from the US before the exhibit ends on June 6.

Tunzi wanted the gown she’d wear for her final moments as the reigning Miss Universe to honour her Xhosa heritage in a contemporary way. The resulting design took Biji about 800 hours to make and, according to W24, would be priced between R90,000 and R100,000.

Though there are no diamonds adorning the head wrap Tunzi wore to complete this look, it does have sentimental value. The beauty queen said on Instagram that it had been given to her by her mom.

Zozibini Tunzi was born on 18 September 1993 and is a South African model and beauty pageant titleholder who was crowned Miss Universe 2019. Tunzi had previously been crowned Miss South Africa 2019. 

She is the third woman from South Africa to win the title, and the first black woman since Angolan Leila Lopes was crowned Miss Universe 2011.

Tunzi was born in Tsolo, Eastern Cape to parents Philiswa Nodapu and Lungisa Tunzi, and raised in the nearby village of Sidwadweni. Tunzi is one of four sisters. She later moved to Cape Town, settling in the Gardens suburb in order to attend Cape Peninsula University of Technology.

She graduated with a National Diploma in public relations management in 2018. In 2017, Tunzi was working as a model and living in East London, Eastern Cape.

Prior to winning Miss South Africa, Tunzi was completing a Bachelor of Technology graduate degree in public relations management at Cape Peninsula University of Technology, and worked as a graduate intern in the public relations department of Ogilvy Cape Town.

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