See the news with lots of pictures of the show at
some pictures of Kurara at the after-party at the Grand Hyatt:
from left to right
finalists Misa & Rie,
my gorgeous team: Takako, Meiko &Asami
Hiroko finalist in 2002 in
withFANS and FRIENDS (including my friend Bobby who flew from Hong Kong for the evening, bottom right)
with Miyako Miyazaki (top 5 in 2003)
Miyako will be coaching Kurara for LA
Japan has a fabulous delegate for Miss Universe!
Kurara has the intelligence, the charisma, the overall beauty and the confidence to aim very high this year! Plus she speaks Japanese, English, French and Spanish….
Lots of love to all our supporters during the past 7 months.
Will post pictures and news of Kurara during her training.
It is amazing to see how much they are growing every day. Last night we were saying with Milly my choreographer that this is the best competition ever since we work together, 9 years already. This year the show looks like a Miss Universe one, and the girls really look like they have been training with Osmel in Venezuela. They have an attitude and a confidence, most of them, which has been unseen up to now in Japan. It is going to be a big surprise for the audience Tuesday night.
The evening gowns by Shanghai Tang, are amazing. Very haute Couture, and in fact they are. The Rosa Cha bikinis with the Indian stoles will look spectacular.
I do believe that some girls are going to be a surprise on stage and might be placing in top 5. I hope that the judges will make the right choice for the winner….
Will post some photos very soon.
Luxury, exclusive, access, privilege, VIP, feel, sense, uniqueness,
This is what you feel when you enter the renow Cathay First class lounge in Hong Kong. With its deep leather seats, minimalist atmosphere, stylish deco, private and exclusive.
Emi & Sachiko checking in….
Trust me, you MUST have a drink and sandwichs at the LONG BAR, it is indeed the longuest bar ever in any airport lounge around the world, with a direct view on the runway.
There is also a fabulous Japanese restaurant where you can choose the most delicious dishes.
So convenient, with access to internet, direct phones lines to call your loved one at home before getting on the plane while sipping a cocktail.
My beauties at the gate….
The Japanese rugby team coming back to Tokyo from the Rugby Seven. They were thrilled to meet the 2 beauties at the gate. They won against New Zealand, sugoi !!!! And actually we heard the news while in Bali and we cheered with red wine and big Kampai!!
Thank you Cathay for treating us first all the way! With special Thanks to James Ginns (Marketing & Sales Manager, Japan on the picture with us above)
No wonder Cathay was nominated “Airline of the Year 2006″
But I do have a complain…. the ride in the plane was too short!!
shooting with Glamorous magazine
finalists: Sachiko and Emi
we stayed at the JIA Boutique hotel in Causeway Bay, designed by Philippe Starck
Free time, dinner at Beirut restaurant in Lan Kwai Fong.
We all went afterwards dancing at the Kee-Club.
My beautiful staff Takako and Meiko.
Relaxing before the big show….. pampering with shiatsu massage, hot bath and delicious food
with Milly and Patricia
Milly does the choreography of miss universe japan since I started 9 years ago. We acrually started the all thing together. Patricia is Milly’s assistant and comes from Cannes,south of France, every year to work with us. Patricia is also one of the best dancers in France If you watch the show live at www.missuniversejapan.com, on the night of the competition, on the 25th, you will see her as the main character during the 3 dance performances
Story by Sean Fitzpatrick
for PRESTIGE magazine
photo at the JIA Boutique hotel in Hong Kong
This unique hotel was designed by Philippe Sarck
photo by Karl www.karlchiu.com
Recently, when I was about to leave for Tokyo, someone told me, “While you’re there, you must meet Ines. She knows everybody.” He was talking about Ines Ligron, the National Director of Miss Universe Japan (MUJ) and former director of IMG Models Asia Pacific. I didn’t call Ligron on that trip and instead our first meeting was to be in Hong Kong, in the run-up to last month’s MUJ finals. I expected to meet a Blackberry-wielding, minion-berating butterfly with social ADD that befits the everybody-knower. Instead, I met an unpretentious, easy-going businesswoman and mother-of-three who has a down-to-earth charm. Even her glamour poses for the camera, which she turned on instantly, were executed with a business-like efficiency.
Ligron was born in Paris and raised in Montpellier, in the South of France, where she spent a blissful childhood riding horses and as well as Harleys. “I have always loved the contrast of femininity and masculinity. I loved getting off my bike and putting on heels to go out at night,” she says (Years later, her empowered take on womanhood would become the message behind her MUJ events.) She married her first husband at the tender age of 18 and became a mother at 21, yet rather than succumb to the routine of the housewife, Ligron embarked on a business career.
Her first enterprise was a beauty centre and spa, which later expanded into plastic surgery. Having conquered beauty, Ligron set her sights on fashion and soon established herself as the international director for a European company that utilized her Spanish skills by sending her around South and Central America to conduct business on its behalf. At age 31, it was time for yet another career shift: Director Asia Pacific of IMG Models. Relocating to Hong Kong but dealing with markets from Singapore to Sydney, Ligron was promoting famous faces; meanwhile, she met her current husband, Ken Berger, a key player in the sports industry.
It was at this time that she also gained the attention of Donald Trump. “It was 1997 and Trump had just acquired the Miss Universe pageant. I know him through somebody and when he needed a director for MUJ, my name came up. He called me and we talked – I asked him for a lot of money, which I got! Eight years later and he still hasn’t said to me, ‘You’re fired,’” she says with a chuckle.
Ligron agreed to take charge of MUJ on the condition that it be done her way, going against advice that the Japanese ideal of a demure woman should be maintained. Ligron injected her foreigner’s sense of strong womanhood into the event, evident even in the MUJ logo, a punky spray-can stencil. Smarts, as well as looks, are the criteria – but most importantly, personal drive is the x-factor: “The girls have to want it.”
“The only element I wanted to keep was the ‘Cinderella Story’ element,” she says, describing the process by which previously anonymous contestants are thrust into a life of glamour, luxury and fame after becoming a finalist. “Finalists get a lot out of MUJ. They become 35 at the age of 25 just from the experiences they get during the five months it takes.”
Initially, Ligron had to personally roam the streets of Japan, scouting for hopefuls: “I would walk up to girls and they would think I was a lost tourist needing help.” For this year’s event, Ligron received over 4,000 entries (flight attendants, dancers, students and magazine editors among them) and no longer has to search out beauties. “Even now, when girls see me in the street, they freeze and wait. They know if I think they are beautiful, I will give them my card…but there are a lot of disappointed girls out there.” I ask if she would accept girls who get cosmetic surgery: “Sure, why not? Just because you have brains but born with a big nose you can’t be on the cover of a magazine?”
In addition to revamping the image of MUJ, Ligron raised the sponsorship stakes by involving top brands such as Samantha Thavasa, Evian and Jaguar, who offered the winner a custom-built car. Ligron is proud, too, that when Cathay Pacific learnt that a film crew would be accompanying the contestants on a recent flight, the carrier ensured its latest Boeing jet was made available. “That’s the impact Miss Universe Japan is making,” she says, before adding that, this year alone, the girls were whisked to Bali, London and of course Hong Kong, where their svelte figures were measured for Shanghai Tang evening gowns.
This year, MUJ fever was heightened by a reality TV show that captured the behind-the-scenes drama in the build-up to the final. There were teary fights, breakdowns, and bonding moments galore as Ligron put the finalists through their paces: “The girls are nice to each other, but they can be bitches, too, because they know there can only be one Miss Japan.”
The show was such a hit that Ligron has recently signed up with US TV network Fox for another reality series which will see the MUJ director pit more Japanese beauties against each other in a series of challenges, such as enduring army boot camp. With 24-hour shooting over four months later this year, I ask if Ligron is prepared for the role of taskmaster.
“I don’t need to prepare. I do that to girls anyway,” she jokes.
Miss Japan, will vie for the crown of Miss Universe on July 23 in Los Angeles, USA.
on April 25th from 7:00 pm (Tokyo time)
see it @ www.missuniversejapan.com
The 13 finalists did 2 fashion show during the evening. The girls danced and had fun, everyone were talking pictures of them and starring, it was fun to watch.
!0 more days to go before the final!