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Meet Bessie Besana, the designer of Pia Wurtzbach’s captivating wedding gown 

by Izel Abanilla

MISS Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach may have veered away from the usual grandiose church ceremony, but her picturesque beach wedding to Jeremy Jauncey was totally one for the books. 

Aside from the wedding’s dreamy venue, which is North Island in the Seychelles, another thing that captured the public’s attention was Wurtzbach’s exquisite gown made by Filipino designer Bessie Besana. 

It was a lace figure-hugging gown with a high slit that showed off the beauty queen’s curves and looked perfect for the beach ceremony. 

Wurtzbach herself asked Besana to design the gown for her special day. 


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Who is Bessie Besana? 

Besana is a New York-based fashion designer who chased after his dreams and his love for beauty queens and became a mentor to pageant hopefuls. 

But before he became a force to be reckoned with in Philippine fashion and pageantry, he worked as a civil engineer who worked in the corporate world for years. 

In an earlier interview with Rappler, he said was inspired to do something very technical because he wanted to show people that he had other talents other than those usually stereotyped about members of the LBGTQIA+ community. 

After getting a civil engineering degree from De La Salle University, Besana practiced the profession for over eight years, specializing in Facilities and Operations Management. His last job before working as a designer was as Sub-Regional Facilities Management Lead in Hong Kong. 

But despite a well-paying day job, Besana endured an internal struggle. 

He said in the interview that a 2014 trip to London with Miss World 2013 Megan Young, who at that time was passing on her title, made him realize what he wanted.  He realized that one has to do something that’s in your heart, he said. 

This made him switch from the corporate setting to the fashion world. But fashion is just one of the two things he is passionate about. The other one is pageants. 

Love for pageants

Besana loved pageants even as a child. 

Years later, one event would fuel his passion for this even more, according to his website. It was in 2005, when he enlisted a friend to the Binibining Pilipinas pageant and she made it to the semifinals. 

He continued with his passion and honed his expertise, and in 2008, he teamed up with the country’s premiere pageant camp to mentor pageant hopefuls. The team produced the country’s Miss Universe runners-up and winners Miss World 2013 Megan Young, Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach, and Miss International 2016 Kylie Versoza. 

In 2017, he was named general Manager of Miss World Philippines. 

Besana also continued his career in the fashion world, and he became known for his couture designs and wedding gowns.  

Among his favorite muses are celebrities and beauty queens like Megan Young, Morissette Amon, Jodi Sta. Maria, Sarah Geronimo, Toni Gonzaga, Shamcey Supsup-Lee and of course, Wurtzbach. 

Pia’s gown 

Wurtzbach’s gown isn’t just beautiful, it also has a touching story about how it was made. 

Just recently, Besana took to instagram to share how Wurtzbach’s gown came about. 

According to him, it was on November 8, 2022 when the former beauty queen invited him to breakfast and asked him to make her wedding dress. 

“While we were chatting over croissants and how the wedding of Carla is gonna happen in a few weeks, Pia casually slid the idea by saying ‘Since we are on the wedding topic, I really wanted a friend to make my wedding dress and I was hoping it would be you,’” he said, partly quoting Wurtzbach. 

He was caught by surprise as he did not think he was even going to be an option. But Wurtzbach insisted that he do it. 

After crying tears of joy, he immediately shifted to designer mode and asked her about how she wanted it to look. 

Jeremy’s vision 

While most brides usually take the lead in designing their wedding dresses, the country’s third Miss Universe reversed the tradition by letting her now husband decide her look. 

“Asking the groom for his vision is a very unconventional way of creating a wedding gown for me, but it was a very interesting way and I was excited to make it come to life,” Besana said. 

Jauncey wanted Wurtzbach to be in “a classic corseted bodice with a soft texture and a slit,” Besana said.

At first, he and Wurtzbach were surprised at the idea of a slit for a wedding dress. But he told her that any design is now acceptable in these modern times, especially if it’s for a beach wedding. 

Besana also talked about how he created the dress. 

He said he used soft Chantilly lace that he manipulated to achieve a skin tone shade. He also used three-dimensional petal details on the dress, which he said were inspired by Wurtzbach’s idea of soft movements. 

“The asymmetrical pattern moving upward is my personal interpretation of how life has brought Pia through many challenges and eventually found [her] forever with Jeremy. The dress also features a play on the back skirt with panels, godet and appliqués. As a request, Pia wanted a sleek skirt silhouette in the front but with a bit of drama at the back,” he added. 

The result was a masterpiece fit for a queen. 

And most importantly, the couple loved it.

“I was very happy when Pia told me a day before her flight to Seychelles that she really loves her dress. But the cherry on top of the ice cream was when I received a voice note from Jeremy sharing how beautiful his bride was, and that’s all he could ask for,” he said.  

“My heart is full seeing the bride and the groom happy,” he finished. 



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