Emerging Edmonton fashion designer has career hopes pinned on Miss Universe Canada

·2 min read
Model Jade Tang wears a dress created by Edmonton designer Francheska Esguerra to be worn by Tamara Jemuovic, Miss Universe Canada 2021. (Crystal Tsang Photography - image credit)
Model Jade Tang wears a dress created by Edmonton designer Francheska Esguerra to be worn by Tamara Jemuovic, Miss Universe Canada 2021. (Crystal Tsang Photography - image credit)

The profile of an emerging Edmonton fashion designer will go from zero to runway next month when her evening gowns and swimwear are featured at the biggest beauty pageant in Canada.

Francheska Esguerra has been interested in pageants and sketching gowns since she was a kid. When the pandemic hit in 2020 and her career as a makeup artist ground to a halt, she decided to turn her passion for fashion into something more serious.

"I have two options," she recalled with a laugh during an interview with CBC's Radio Active. "I can either cook all day or study."

Esguerra registered for an online fashion diploma and bought a sewing machine. In the spring of 2021, she took a leap of faith and pitched the organizers of the Miss Universe pageant.

"It was a shot in the dark, when I emailed them," Esguerra said. "I just finished watching Miss Universe and I was like, 'I can do this. I want my gowns to be there.'"

Crystal Tsang Photography
Crystal Tsang Photography

In August, Esguerra got a response to go ahead with an evening gown for Tamara Jemuovic, the reigning title holder, to wear during the coronation of the next Miss Universe Canada, which will take place in Toronto on May 14.

By December, she was in conversations to design dresses and swimwear for the more than 50 contestants who will vie for the title.

Esguerra said the project has been an unique challenge, in terms of creating designs that would work on all different skin tones and body types.

It's also been a lot of work — all unpaid, she said.

"I didn't anticipate the stress and all the funds I would need for 70 dresses and 70 swimsuits," Esguerra said, adding that she received helped from Edmonton businesses Vo Jewellers and Fly & Fetch in getting the project off the ground.

Francheska Esguerra
Francheska Esguerra

She hopes this will lead to partnerships with other pageant contestants in the future.

Esguerra will fly to Toronto May 2 to deliver the garments and do fittings with contestants. The preliminary Miss Universe Canada competition is May 12 and the winner will be crowned May 14.

"I am pretty new in this field, here in Canada, so I would like to showcase what I can do, and take my talent to the national stage," Esguerra said. "I hope this can help me get noticed."

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