India's drought at the Miss Universe pageant continued as Miss India Ekta Chowdhry failed to reach the top 15 for the 2009 edition of the event, but the designers here feel she was a "deserving candidate" and lost because of sheer "bad luck".
"Bad Luck!" designer Vijay Arora said after he got to know the result.
The Miss Universe 2009 contest took place in the Bahamas early Monday (India time) and Stefanía Fernández from Venezuela was crowned the beauty queen.
This is the first time in many years that an Indian contestant has failed to make it to the top 15.
"I am very surprised by the fact that Ekta didn't even come in the top 15. Indian beauties have always managed to come in either top five or top ten. But this is a complete surprise," designer Ritu Kumar told IANS.
Kumar has been looking after the wardrobe of the Indian contestants in international beauty pageants like Miss Universe and Miss World since 1994.
The last Indian to wear the Miss Universe crown was Lara Dutta who won the title in 2000.
"There must be some discrimination. One can't digest the fact that no one from India has won the crowd for past so many years. Ekta was a very deserving candidate and I believe there is something wrong going on," Rahul Jain of designer duo Rahul-Gunjan said.
Ritu Kumar said: "A lot has changed in the format. What I feel is that a lot depends on the sponsors there who might be dictating their terms. All we can do and have been doing is try and give our best. After all we have to take our chances."
Many people were sceptical about Chowdhry's short hair as Indian beauties are always associated with long tresses.
Leena Singh of Ashima-Leena designer duo feels that it might it one of the reasons for her early elimination.
"She looks very pretty and has Indian looks but I feel her short hair was the main drawback. It didn't gel very well with her Indian looks and costumes," Leena said.
But she maintained that to represent India at the pageant is an achievement in itself.
With India failing to win for so many years, designer Alpana of label Azara feels that it is the time to introspect because the quality of models representing India at the international pageants is deteriorating.
"These things happen and it is very unfortunate. But I feel that this is the time to introspect and think what went wrong. For so many years we haven't produced a winner which means there is something wrong with the selection criteria. This is the time to start doing something about it," Alpana maintained.