The West

Beauties rise above tragedy
Miss Universe WA State finalists Georgia Gibbs, Stephanie Wake and Courtney Read. Picture: Megan Powell/ The West Australian

It was devastating for the six Miss Universe WA State finalists last month when they learnt about the death of fashion designer Ruth Tarvydas, who had long been involved with the pageant.

But as the women prepare to take the national stage later this week, they are now more determined than ever to take home the title for WA to honour the late fashion icon's memory.

Georgia Gibbs, who is representing the State along with Courtney Read, Stephanie Wake, Felicia Kendrick, Bree Wilson and Lucy Ross, told AAA they wanted to "go out with a bang" by wearing a series of custom evening gowns created by Tarvydas.

"We want to go out there and showcase the dresses the best way we can," the Wanneroo 18-year-old said.

"We are so lucky to be wearing maybe one of the last things she worked on. We want to give it 100 per cent and make her proud."

The finalists will fly to Melbourne today before Friday's crowning ceremony and, after a preliminary program that has stretched from October last year, it is only now dawning on them just how close to the finish line they are.

From nerve-racking heats to catwalk parades, high-octane boxing classes, deportment workshops and a recent bonding trip to Bali, it has been an unforgettable experience and a "journey of self- discovery" for the women.

"When it all comes to an end I am not sure what I am going to do with myself," said Read, a 20-year-old occupational therapy student.

"I will probably still text the girls every day and say: 'Hey guys, what are we doing today?'"

For psychology graduate Wake, her involvement with Miss Universe has encouraged her to help other young girls develop positive self-esteem and the *Hillarys * beauty has already been running workshops with women on building their own personal brand.

"I would love to go further with that to inspire young girls to be more confident, especially in this day and age with social media and pressures to be older than you really are," the 22-year-old said.

Gibbs, Read and Wake all agreed they would not hesitate to recommend others to enter the pageant when registrations open for the next WA preliminary later this year.

The West Australian

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