Every year Pageant Planet compiles a list of the best pageant and prom designers from the previous year based on our Best in Pageantry Awards. This list may even help you find your next pageant dress! If your favorite designer isn't on this list, you can check out our entire list of pageant and prom designers by clicking Find a Designer.
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The Mac Duggal Couture Collection. Photo: Mac Duggal Website
10. Johnathan Kayne
I first became aware of Johnathan Kayne Gillaspie during the third season of Project Runway after he had been rejected from the second season auditions. From the first moment I saw him onscreen, I fell in love with his boundless enthusiasm for beauty pageants, his over the top fashion sense, and his warm, easy going southern charm. He was a humble, down-to-earth designer with a passion for making women look like queens, whether they were pageant contestants or not. He won the pageant gown competition of the show by designing the gown that Miss USA 2006, Tara Conner, would eventually wear at the Miss Universe pageant that year. Although he did not win Project Runway, it was clear that he was a designer to watch. Johnathan Kayne has proven himself as a visionary in the world of fashion, and his gowns are nothing short of spectacular.
He has found a niche that fulfills his artistic sensibility and a bevy of faithful fans that adore his uniquely dramatic and often avant-garde flair with design. His rise to pageant stardom has been exhilarating, and I have no doubt that we will continue to see even more sensational creations from this talented southern gentleman.
Miss Arkansas USA 2018, Lauren Weaver. Photo: Johnathan Kayne Facebook
9. Gregory Ellenburg
Another southerner who has channeled his creative spirit into elegant and sophisticated fashion is Gregory Ellenburg. Ellenburg, who didn’t even know how to sew, got a late start as a designer, enrolling in the Fashion Institute of Technology at the age of 30. But, since that time he has more than made up for being a late bloomer by building an impressive fan base with his classic, timeless designs.
This commitment to classic style over temporary trends has made him the go-to designer for not only titleholders in the pageant world but also movers and shakers in the entertainment field and the women who rule the upper echelons of high society. His gowns are graceful and polished, making the wearer feel like a true lady.
Miss California America 2017, Jillian Smith. Photo: Doug Hikawa/Gregory Ellenburg Website
8. Rachel Allan
Since 1985, Rachel Allan has successfully created dream prom dresses and lavish pageant gowns for teens, celebrities and pageant queens alike. Her coveted gowns are worn on red carpets and stages all across the world.
The line features fun and sassy short dresses, classic chiffon ball gowns, sultry jersey sheath dresses and structured Mikado evening gowns, all innovative and figure flattering. Rachel Allan never ceases to delight her devoted fans with her breathtaking creations and no doubt will continue to be a pageant staple for years to come.
Miss Global China 2017, Lily Wu. Photo: Official Miss Global Facebook Page
7. Walter Mendez
When you see a Walter Mendez design, it stops you in your tracks. His gowns are more like works of art than pieces of clothing. From the use of uniquely textured fabrics to the body-hugging silhouettes to the deeply saturated colors, each creation is a jaw-dropping testament to the female form.
Since he is based in Los Angeles, California, it’s no wonder that his designs are seen on every up and coming Hollywood ingénue, as well as Oscar winners alike. But, a talent like Mendez could not be kept a secret, and eventually, the pageant world discovered his awe-inspiring designs. I cannot imagine where this fashion genius is going to go next with his career, but I can’t wait to find out!
Beyonce in Walter Mendez Gown. Photo: Fashion Bomb Daily Website
6. Ieena Duggal
Ieena Duggal may be the daughter of the legendary designer Mac Duggal, but her creative vision is all her own. Ieena’s first collection debuted in 2015 and now includes sophisticated office attire, special event dresses and glamorous evening gowns. From the jumpsuits to the rompers to the couture ball gowns, every piece is carefully crafted to reflect her uniquely modern take on classic formal wear.
Miss Universe Iceland 2017, Arna Ýr Jónsdóttir. Photo: Jorge Esteban Facebook
5. Fernando Wong
In the same way that a perfect frame can complement a classic painting, a Fernando Wong creation highlights what is best about a woman’s figure. Everything in his line seems like it was made for the pageant world, including sophisticated interview outfits, sleek jumpsuits and ornate evening gowns.
But pageant girls aren’t the only ones who crave his sensual, yet chic designs. Every celebrity and Las Vegas Diva has a Fernando Wong gown in her closet. His designs are just like the women who wear them: sexy, alluring and opulent but still very refined. (Read: How to Find Your Dream Gown Within Your Budget)
Miss Montana USA 2018, Dani Walker. Photo: Dani Walker Instagram
4. Micheal Cinco
A Dubai-based Filipino designer, Micheal Cinco Couture has become a formidable force in the world of pageant fashion. The gown that he designed for Miss Universe 2016, Iris Mittenaere, when she took her final walk, is indicative of his dazzling couture style.
He created a simple strapless column base gown with an attached crinoline-backed overskirt, but the fabric was made of incredible ombré red sequins. His work is regal and resplendent and appears almost old world. His dresses float and dance and seem to defy gravity. The woman that wears his designs is a woman who wants to be seen.
There is no other designer quite like Micheal Cinco, and it’s exciting to witness his growing popularity in the pageant community.
Miss Universe 2016, Iris Mittenaere. Photo: Miss Universe Organization
3. Mac Duggal
The name Mac Duggal is synonymous with pageantry, so it’s no surprise to see this designer in the top three spot on our list. Mac Duggal is the sponsor of dozens of national and international titleholders, including Miss USA, Miss America, Miss World, Miss Earth and Miss Universe.
At the 2017 Miss USA pageant, nine of the contestants chose to wear a Mac Duggal gown during the preliminary competition. These ladies could choose any gown they wanted, and the fact that they chose Mac Duggal says a lot. But, Mac Duggal clothing is not just for titleholders or celebrities.
This line has been created for every woman, regardless of her age, size or style. In fact, the brand has become so extensive that there are now as many different collections as there are events or occasions in your life. Mac Duggal will always be a mainstay in the world of pageantry, but his work is also relevant to the modern, sophisticated woman who desires to express her glamorous side to the world.
The Mac Duggal Couture Collection. Photo: Mac Duggal Website
Jovani is one of the most well-known gown designers in the world of pageant competition for a very good reason. It offers its clients near couture quality in every piece they create. When you put on a Jovani gown, one of the first things you notice is the immaculate workmanship that has gone into every part of the dress. From the neckline to the bodice down to the train, a Jovani gown feels like it was created just for you.
This brand is also so beloved by so many women because it offers just about every style, color and price point that you can imagine. Whatever you can envision in a gown, Jovani probably makes it. This commitment to pleasing every one of its clients has made it a brand with a dedicated following. Jovani isn’t just making dresses, but making dreams come true in the dresses.
Chiquinquirá Delgado. Photo: Jovani Fashion Facebook
1. Sherri Hill
Once again, Sherri Hill has been voted the number one pageant gown designer, and it’s really no surprise because there is something for everyone in this line. The brand has the unique ability to appeal to all ages and all levels of pageant competition. Sherri Hill always seems to have their finger on the pulse of what women want, while at the same time being a step ahead of the competition with the innovative designs.
When you look through a group of Sherri Hill dresses, you will find fresh feminine details like delicate lace and colorful florals, as well as sexy, cutting-edge sophistication in the form of tasteful cutouts, thigh-high slits and daring low back styles. But, the underlying factor in all of the gowns is that each one manages to capture the essence of femininity, and I believe that is what makes them so appealing to women.
Every woman, regardless of her body type, personal taste or stage in life, can see herself in a Sherri Hill creation. And, she doesn’t just see herself, she sees her best self!
Photo: Sherri Hill Instagram
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10. Ceci Couture
Ceci Couture features fashion-forward dresses for the modern woman. The evening gowns are designed with a woman's figure in mind. They are meant to be feminine and to flatter each woman's curves. The elegant designs are unique and will stand out for any occasion. In 2018, the brand will celebrate 20 years since its founding!
Photo: Ceci Couture
Known for elegant beading and figure-flattering gowns, Colors has dresses that are fit for a runway. With a wide variety of styles to choose from, there is a design for anyone. Colors has been worn by celebrities like Stephanie Beatriz, Erica Ash, Keesha Sharp and Hofit Golan on magazine covers, at award shows and on red carpets.
Photo: Colors Couture
8. Ashley Lauren
Ashley Lauren is a favorite for several celebrities. Olivia Pierson and Genesis Davila are among some of the notable names to wear an Ashley Lauren design. Special attention is paid to every detail. The fashionable brand keeps today's woman in mind. Fun Fact: Ashley Lauren owns the rights to "National Dress Day", which takes place on March 6 each year. So remember on March 6th, wear a dres and it might as well be an Ashley Lauren.
Photo: Ashley Lauren
7. Rachel Allan
Despite serious controversy in 2017, Rachel Allan is still a popular name in the prom dress world as was told in the numerous nominations that they received. Their gowns are unique and are designed to help teenage girls feel confident and enjoy their prom experiences. The brand has various different styles and collections. Each dress is different, but the one thing that stays the same is the fun and flirty look each Rachel Allan dress embodies.
Photo: Rachel Allan
LaFemme's warehouse has over 150,000 dresses in stock at all times to ensure that no matter the occasion, it has you covered. The goal is to make LaFemme your first and last stop when searching for that perfect dress for any occasion. This pink gown is a classic prom dress, and you can't go wrong with this simple and feminine look.
5. Tiffany Designs
Tiffany Designs, owned by House of Wu, has an array of brightly colored and beautiful dresses. Its youthful approach to design is light and fun, making its styles great choices for prom. There are several elegant mermaid styles and ball gowns for you to choose from!
Photo: Tiffany Designs
4. Mac Duggal
Mac Duggal has various designs for several different sizes. The variety of beautiful prom dresses in the plus-sized collection Fabulouss is refreshing in an industry that often limits plus-sized girls' options. Fabulouss has mermaid styles, peplum dresses, ball gowns and more.
Photo: Mac Duggal
3. JVN by Jovani
JVN by Jovani has practical prom styles that would be comfortable on the dance floor all night. Jovani is one of the most recognizable names in the prom world. Jovani designs can be seen throughout the country each year as girls shop for the perfect gown. This red gown is both strikingly beautiful and would be easy to dance in. A Jovani girl will not only look her best on prom night, she'll also feel comfortable and confident.
Photo: JVN by Jovani
2. Ellie Wilde
Ellie Wilde is the perfect brand for any girl who wants a unique floral print. The floral gowns are some of the best on the market. There are also several other designs and solid colored gowns to choose from. The feminine styles are timeless and photograph beautifully! This blue gown would look flattering on any skin tone. The floral pattern in the midsection of the dress adds a dynamic flair to the design.
Photo: Ellie Wilde
1. Sherri Hill
If you ask a girl what her dream dress is, there's a high chance she'll show you a Sherri Hill gown. Sherri Hill dresses are the most coveted prom dresses on the market. Girls dream of them, pin them to Pinterest boards and save up money to buy the perfect one. As trends change, Sherri Hill adapts and predicts what the next big thing in prom fashion will be. Often, she sets the trends herself. This short blush gown would be easy to dance in while looking elegant and classy.
Photo: Sherri Hill
If you want to get a custom dress from any of these designers below you can click here and then click, "Want a Custom Dress" and we will email them for you to start the process. This is 100% free. If you're a designer or manufacturer you can add yourself to our listing for free by clicking here. Now, onto the Top 10 designers in pageantry!
10. Gaspar Cruz
Gaspar Cruz has created gowns for titleholders at the local, state and national level. One of his most easily recognizable gowns was worn by Miss America 2014 Nina Davuluri – she won both Miss New York 2013 AND Miss America 2014 in it! From the simple beauty of her yellow gown to a full sequin show stopper, Gaspar Cruz can create the perfect gown for any personality.
Miss America 2014, Nina Davuluri. Photo: Nick Verreos
9. Laine Berry
As Mrs. International 2008, Laine Berry knows a thing or two about what makes an incredible evening gown. She has since designed a high-end pageant gown line for Mon Cheri. Lace, cut-outs, trains and ruffles –these gowns have it all! If you're looking for a stand-out gown that will surely set you apart from all other contestants, Laine Berry's collection is perfect for you.
Miss University of Georgia 2016, Annie Jorgensen. Photo: Laine Berry Facebook Page
8. Fernando Wong
Fernando Wong has dressed countless pageant contestants and other celebrities, including Toni Braxton, Janet Jackson and the members of Destiny's Child, just to name a few of his past celebrity clients. His gowns often have features such as low necklines, low backs and high leg slits. Describing his own designs, Wong states that the fit is what sets him apart from other designers, highlighting the fact that many of his designs fit tight on the waist and a little looser on the hips, allowing for the "natural woman" to wear them.
Miss Kansas 2016, Kendall Schoenekase. Photo: Miss America Organization
7. Tarik Ediz
Tarik Ediz designs are arguably some of the most unique gowns in the pageant world. With intricate details, often including elaborate beadwork, illusion panels and low back designs, pageant titleholders wearing Tarik Ediz are guaranteed the "Wow" factor. One of the most memorable pageant moments of 2016 was Miss Michigan's decision to wear a jumpsuit during the evening gown portion of Miss America, designed by – you guessed it – Tarik Ediz!
Miss Michigan 2016 Arianna Quann. Photo: Miss America Organization
6. Juan Carlos Pinera
Often featuring daring neck lines, lace and patterns, designs by Juan Carlos Pinera are sure to leave a lasting impression on the judges. The brand also frequently uses corsets to ensure the perfect fit for each wearer. One of Juan Carlos Pinera's designs was worn by Miss America 2013, Mallory Hagan when she won Miss America!
Miss America 2013, Mallory Hagan. Photo: Judy Eddy / WENN
In my opinion, any designer that is worn by Nicki Minaj and Beyoncé is a definite winner. Costello's gowns are often solid-colored, and the details are usually in the shape and cut of the gown! Michael Costello is the epitome of high fashion, and his designs are beyond fierce. It's no wonder he was Nia Sanchez's designer choice back at Miss USA 2014!
Miss USA 2014, Nia Sanchez. Photo: Reuters
Both in prom and pageantry, Jovani is one of the best-known and most frequently sought after designers. Jovani gowns range from simple to extravagant, often featuring bold colors and a lot of beading. It's nearly a given that a few of pageantry's "It" dresses for the year are Jovani styles. Especially with the past year's "Jovani It Girl" contest, the brand is as popular as ever.
Miss South Carolina 2016, Rachel Wyatt. Photo: Miss America Organization
3. Gionni Straccia
Gionni Straccia has dressed many high-profile pageant contestants in pageants such as Miss Ecuador, Miss Honduras, Miss Peru, Miss Teen USA, Miss USA, Miss Universe, Miss World and Miss Earth. He gained a lot of attention in the mid-2000's when he dressed two Miss Universes back to back: Miss Universe 2008, Dayana Mendoza, and Miss Universe 2009, Stefanía Fernández (both from his home country of Venezuela)! A Gionni Straccia gown never bores, as they usually feature big, bold details like ruffles or beading patterns. His most recent major success is dressing our new Miss Teen USA 2016, Karlie Hay!
Miss Teen USA 2016, Karlie Hay. Photo: Darren Decker / Miss Teen USA
2. Mac Duggal
The favorite designer of Miss World America 2016 Audra Mari, as well as countless other titleholders around the world, Mac Duggal designs in the world of pageantry are here to stay. With the addition of Mac Duggal's daughter, Ienna Duggal, to the brand, there are even more options for gown styles. You can find a Mac Duggal gown with just about anything you could possibly want, including trains, capes, dramatic necklines, swooping backs, slits, velvet... the options are endless!
Miss Wisconsin USA 2017, Skylar Witte. Photo: Future Productions
1. Sherri Hill
It's no surprise that Sherri Hill is number one on our list – you can find multiple Sherri Hill gowns at nearly any competition. Sherri Hill is a trendsetter, and with the frequency of prints and dramatic details in her designs, her gowns are any pageant girl's dream. She even dressed Miss America 2017, Savvy Shields, at the national pageant! Sherri Hill gowns are top of the line in 21st-century pageantry, and we don't foresee them losing their appeal anytime soon!
Miss High School America 2015, Emily Bray. Photo: Miss High School America Pageant
Alyce has a mission to help each girl have a personal style within her own gown. It wants to inspire a unique look and help women find dresses for various occasions. It offers styles for prom, mother-of-the-bride, formal, graduation, homecoming, military balls, pageants, red carpet, semi-formal, sweet 16, weddings and quinceaneras. Alyce Designs was created in 1967 and has been designing amazing gowns ever since.
Alyce Style 1231. Photo: Alyce
Blush has many collections with its brand and uses a lot of intricate beadwork, delicate detailing and modern styles to help each girl find her ideal gown. It offers prom dresses, cocktail dresses and ball gowns, along with a great plus size collection. It has a very young style and is always up to date with the latest styles and hottest trends.
Blush Style 7005. Photo: Blush
Faviana offers very classic and elegant gowns in its prom collection. The brand's mission is to help women feel good and to celebrate themselves. This is a very giving, genuine, inspiring and elegant brand with lots of concern for each customer. It also created The Faviana Foundation, which gives back to women and helps with careers, education, health, support and much more. This is a great brand with great styles and a great heart at the core.
Faviana Style S8002. Photo: Faviana
"An elegant, bold collection that is both timeless and contemporary. Unapologetically confident yet vulnerable and refreshing. Adventurous and incandescent. Inspiring and unforgettable – this is Ellie Wilde" (Ellie Wilde Official Website). This collection offers many timeless gowns that can fit your style perfectly. They have many lookbooks and trunk shows and want to help each girl find her perfect gown.
Ellie Wilde Style EW117031. Photo: Ellie Wilde
Ashley Lauren is a young red carpet fashion line with very classic and fitting gowns. They specialize in evening, cocktail, mother-of-the-bride, bridal, prom, homecoming and pageant dresses. The company's corporate headquarters are located in Scarborough, Maine. The company also maintains a showroom in Atlanta. Its designs are timeless and modern and are the perfect fit for any girl looking to find the perfect classic gown.
Ashley Lauren Style 1130 Navy Ombre. Photo: Ashley Lauren
LaFemme is known for its glamorous style and its work on the runway and on celebrities. It specializes in prom, homecoming, pageant, evening, bridal, bridesmaids, graduation and cocktail attire. Its warehouse has over 150,000 dresses in stock at all times so you can find a dress for any occasion.
LaFemme Style 24539. Photo: LaFemme
Rachel Allan was officially established in 1985 and designs for almost any formal gown occasion. The company offers many different lines, such as the Rachel Allan line, which is the prom and homecoming line, the Rachel Allan Princess, which is a modestly priced line with good quality fabrics and good prices, the Rachel Allan Curves line, which is for plus sizes, and many more to reach the grand total of seven lines. Rachel Allan even has many trunk shows and trade shows all over the country throughout the year.
Rachel Allan Style 7505. Photo: Rachel Allan
Jovani Fashions was founded in 1980 and is based in the heart of New York City's garment district. It is known for making classic and fashion-forward designs made for every woman. Jovani offers more than just a prom selection. It carries pageant dresses, wedding dresses, cocktail dresses, and mother-of-the-bride dresses. Pageantry loves Jovani and Jovani loves the pageant world!
Jovani Fuchsia Mermaid Bow Back Prom Dress 41644. Photo: Jovani
Mac Duggal gowns are modernistic and couture-inspired designs. Its headquarters and design studio are based in Burr Ridge, Illinois, and it partners with gown sellers around the world. It has become another big name in the pageant world and continues to capture eyes in the industry. The designs have been featured in many magazines, and Mac Duggal is continuing to grow as one of the biggest gown companies in the world.
Mac Duggal Prom Style 4476M. Photo: Mac Duggal
Sherri Hill continues to break barriers in the gown industry, which always keeps her on top. If you are a pageant lover, I'm sure you've heard of Sherri Hill and have seen many of her gowns in person. Sherri Hill has been sponsoring many pageants around the world and always has new and top designs. Sherri's new corporate headquarters is located in Austin, Texas and also has a showroom and design studio in Atlanta. She strives to help women find the perfect design to accentuates the best features of every woman.
Style #51267. Photo: Sherry Hill
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