It’s no subtle beach scene.

When it came to creating Miss Maine’s outfit for the upcoming Miss America “Show Us Your Shoes” parade, the designer behind over-the-top gowns on TLC’s “My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding” used 50,000 Swarovski crystals. Rhinestone starfish. Bejeweled, full-size lobsters crawling up the back.

And then there are the heels, which feature a pair of crystal lighthouses.

Miss Maine, Kristin Korda, was a fan of the reality TV show when she asked Sondra Celli if she could do something fun with lobster.

“I said, ‘Let me tell you something, I’m going to make you a shoe that when they look at Maine, they’re going to pass out,” Celli said Friday by phone from Sondra Celli Designs in Waltham, Mass. “I’m going to make sure they all pass out, they’re laying on the floor; don’t worry.'” 

Korda will wear the outfit Sept. 14 in the 2-mile parade, a pageant tradition returning to the Atlantic City Boardwalk after a nine-year hiatus.


Andrew Miller Korda said his little sister was stunned beyond words when she saw the dress and shoes for the first time.

“You just imagine the amount of light coming off,” he said. “How many silk organza lobster gowns will there be? It’s really going to be a showstopper.”

He’s been in Atlantic City with her this week, helping with show prep.

Korda, a 21-year-old phlebotomist and student from Saco, won’t score any pageant points with the outfit, her brother said. The shoe parade, though, is the first public unveiling for the women before the big broadcast the next day.

Celli, who hadn’t created anything for the Miss America pageant, said she studied past years before designing.

“There’s a lot more Southern girls that show off, and we don’t,” she said. “The East Coast doesn’t put the power into it. I said, ‘This time, we’re going to show them, look out.’ So we did. Covered her in bling.”


The red dress has 35,000 crystals, actual seashells around the bust and a quilted, wired tail intended to fan out of the car Korda will be riding in. It took more than 70 hours to make and retails for $11,000, Celli said.

The shoes, with 50 hours of labor, have 15,000 crystals, as well as lobsters and starfish made of clay and packed with rhinestones.

The timing to finish was tight, Celli said. She’s in the middle of filming the third season of the TLC show and recently revamped the New England Patriots’ cheerleader uniforms.

After the shoe parade, Korda will give one shoe to the pageant to display with the other states.

“It totally represents Maine,” Celli said. “We even did the bottom of the shoe in lobster-red crystals, because when they put the shoe in the case, we want to be the only ones who have the whole bottom done in crystal, too.”

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