Zozibini Zozi Tunzi. Image via Instagram @zozitunzi

Beaded glory: How much did Zozibini Tunzi’s Xhosa heritage gown cost?

Zozibini Tunzi’s Miss Universe custom beaded gown took 800 hours to make and weighs 6.6kg. And it came with a hefty price tag…


Zozibini Zozi Tunzi. Image via Instagram @zozitunzi

Former Miss Universe Zozibini Tunzi wore a custom beaded contemporary Xhosa heritage gown for the Miss Universe pageant this year as she passed down the crown to Miss Mexico Andrea Meza on 16 May at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood.

Zozibini Tunzi’s dress: Weighing in at 6.6kg…

Tunzi wanted her final moments as the longest reigning Miss Universe to honour her Xhosa roots in a contemporary way. 

Her breathtaking outfit was a collaboration between herself, stylist Warner Wessels and designer Bridgit Gibbs, professionally known as Biji. She wore a custom beaded Xhosa heritage gown with an illusion mesh base weighing in 6.6kg. 

The gown was paired with a black Xhosa headdress that is popular for completing a traditional Xhosa women’s attire called Umbhaco. The head wrap worn by the model is of sentimental value as it had been given to her by her mother.

ALSO READ: Miss Universe: Natasha Joubert reveals stunning national costume

Sky-high stilettos and price tag

The gown took about 800 hours to make and is priced between R90 000 to R100 000 according to W24. The dress was inspired by a gown Biji made for Thulisa Keyi to wear when she represented South African on the Miss World stage in 2018.


Like many other businesses, Biji la Maison de Couture was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and had to lay off staff. This resulted in Biji having to rope in family and friends to help her put Tunzi’s dress together. 

“They said ‘show us what to do’, so I trained them and they did 90% of the beading. It really was a family effort. If it wasn’t for them this dress might not have come together,” said Biji, according to TimesLive

Biji worked remotely without fittings but this did not pose a problem as she had also designed Tunzi’s 2019 Miss Universe “sunrise” gown and knew the beauty’s body. 

And then there was Zozibini’s ‘sunrise gown’

“I had never in my life invested as much time and effort into a garment as I did while making Tunzi’s 2019 crowning gown,” says Biji. 

The sunrise gown is worth R208 000 and took more than 1 400 hours and 132 000 beads to create, reported W24. Adding in the “Power of Unity” crown with more than 1 700 diamonds, her winning look was worth close to R70.6m, according to TimesLive.

#BespokeByBiji exhibition 

Biji has an exhibition of gowns she created for celebrities over the years on display at the Diamond Walk in Sandton City, Johannesburg. This features Tunzi’s Miss Universe 2019 gown, as well as Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray’s, that of Miss World 2014 Rolene Strauss and other celebrities such as Boity Thulo, Bonang Mathebe and Ayanda Thabethe.

The designer hopes to add Tunzi’s recent Miss Universe gown to the exhibition if arrives back from the United States (US) before the exhibition ends on 6 June. 

ALSO READ: From Zozi to Rolene: Glamorous gowns now on display in Sandton