Saisha had taken part in Season 14 of the reality show Project Runway in 2015, and was in the show for 10 episodes and later went on to win a Versace internship.

A collage of Saisha Shinde and Harnaaz SandhuImage: Instagram/Saisha Shinde and Harnaaz Sandhu
news Miss Universe 2021 Tuesday, December 14, 2021 - 17:09

Actor-model Harnaaz Sandhu made history on Monday, December 13, as she was crowned Miss Universe 2021 —  beating contestants from 79 countries —  21 years after India last brought home the title. Videos of Harnaaz wearing a glittering, beige transparent embellished gown on stage went viral, looking in disbelief as Steve Harvey, the host of the pageant, announced that she bagged the title of Miss Universe 2021 and the crown was placed on her head. 

As Harnaaz made headlines across the world, with pictures from the finale going viral on social media, all eyes fell on her delicately-designed gown with a long train, designed by Saisha Shinde. Shinde, a trans woman, has reportedly worked with and styled Bollywood actors including Shraddha Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor Khan and Anushka Sharma in the past, and also designed costumes for the 2008 Priyanka Chopra-Kangana Ranaut film Fashion.

Saisha had taken part in Season 14 of the reality show Project Runway in 2015, before she transitioned. She was in the show for 10 episodes and later went on to win a Versace internship.

“WE DID IT!” a jubilant Saisha shared on Instagram after it was announced that Harnaaz had won the coveted crown for India.

For the finale at the Miss Universe 2021 ceremony, Harnaaz wore a sheer beige and silver dress with a plunging neckline and silver embellishments. The dress had a mermaid-style figure and panelling up to the waistline.

Saisha had told News18 that the gown is embellished with embroidery — since Harnaaz believes in sustainability — stones, and sequins, as well as phulkari-patterns on the dress as a nod to Harnaaz’s Punjab roots. The phulkari patterns were given a modern twist, the designer said.

Saisha spoke to Filmfare about Harnaaz’s historic win, and said, “I have been getting DMs on Instagram, calling it the ‘winning gown’ and saying that it will go down in history. I feel so honoured that I got to do this gown, especially for Harnaaz who is an absolutely amazing woman. She’s a girl with a heart of gold. So I feel honoured.” 

Sandhu, a 21-year-old Chandigarh-based model who is pursuing her Master’s in Public Administration, is only the third Indian to have received the coveted title of Miss Universe.

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