The West

Picture: AP

Perth's Miss Australia Renae Ayris has been battling a nasty flu ahead of the Miss Universe final in Las Vegas, which takes place tomorrow morning (WA time).

"Renae was really sick last week but we are hoping she is going to get past all of that," said Nikki Silverthorne, director and designer of Kooey Swimwear Australia.

"She has had a really bad cold. When she went into the interviews, she sounded a little bit nasally but I think she still did pretty well with them.

"I know she has been trying to rest up so she can try to be the best she can be during the big night she has worked so hard for."

For the past two weeks, Silverthorne has been in Sin City preparing for the world's most prestigious beauty pageant as her brand is the official swimwear sponsor of the event, which will reach an estimated two billion TV audience.

The Mandurah-based designer has had to fit each one of the 89 competitors in their swimsuits, which took her nearly 70 hours.

"Not only do I personally fit every single girl, I do all the alterations as well. We have a team of us here but I have to check each girl and make sure it is all right," she said.

"It took five 14-hour days. It was incredible. Every girl doesn't necessarily speak English either, so there were a few girls where it was a point-and-nod exercise."

Getting up close with each of the beauties allowed Silverthorne the chance to examine Ayris' competitors.

"I would be very surprised if Renae wasn't in the top 15. I think she is going to do really well against the other girls - she does stand out from them," she said.

"The South American girls always do quite well so they are the ones to beat but I think she has a really good shot. There hasn't been a blonde Miss Universe for quite a few years so I have got a feeling it will be a blonde."

Silverthorne has followed Ayris' journey from the beginning.

Along with being on the judging panel for the Australian and WA Miss Universe finals, she was a judge during the 22-year-old Connolly stunner's first heat in February.

"The first time I saw her I said to Miss Universe WA organisers, Troy and Sophia Barbagallo, that she was the one girl who had it in her to go all the way," she said.

Having her swimsuits displayed so prominently should be every swimwear designer's dream but the reality is yet to sink in for Silverthorne.

"Once it is all over, I will think about what all this means for the brand," she said.

The West Australian

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