At the intersection of Carroll and Frederick counties sits a quiet nexus of the international beauty pageant world.
Deja Vu Boutique, on Mount Airy’s Main Street, has been quietly sponsoring competitors in the Miss America, Miss Universe and other pageants for almost a decade, according to owners Joanne Sapp and her daughter, Kirsten.
When a young woman wins a contest they are sponsoring, say, Miss Maryland or Miss Universe Germany, “We provide her wardrobe for her competition, so that whole week she is dressed wearing our stuff,” Kirsten said.
“I started out by sponsoring Miss Universe Sweden and Miss Norway,” Joanne added.
Friday evening, three of the boutique’s most recent sponsored contestants met to select their wardrobes for their upcoming competitions: Miss Universe Iceland 2018 Katrin Lea Elenudottir; Miss Queen Beauty Iceland Sunneva Sif Jonsdottir — Queen Beauty is its own pageant system distinct from Miss Universe; and from Rockville, Miss Maryland 2018 Adrianna David.
“I have known Joanne Sapp ... for probably 10 years and she is gracious enough to be one of our sponsors,” said Jorge Esteban, owner of Pageant Smart Interview Consulting and the national director of Miss Universe Iceland. “The girls get to go shopping here and she outfits them for several of their appearances.”
The Miss Universe competition will be held in Bangkok, Thailand, in December, and the Queen Beauty Universe contest in Valencia, Spain, in November, according to Esteban, with the first taking place over three weeks and the second over 10 days.
“That’s a lot of appearances, dinners, rehearsals where they need a lot of wardrobe for those events,” he said.
David, meanwhile, leaves on Tuesday for the Miss America contest, which will be held on Sept. 9, and had come by Deja Vu for some last-minute wardrobe enhancement. It was not her first time at the boutique.
“Deja Vu is the best sponsor ever. They outfit all of my appearances throughout the year,” she said. “I am so grateful to them, I do not know what I would do without this extra closet that I have.”
Elenudottir is looking for cocktail dresses and evening gowns, the many outfits she will need for all kinds of appearances, from dinner to rehearsals, during her three weeks of competition in Bangkok. Her preferred color scheme?
“I love [the] blue color,” she said. “I think about royalty. And about the ocean we have everywhere in Iceland. I love also sparkling and I am searching for a sparkling blue dress.”
Having been to New York and California, but never Maryland, Elenudottir was impressed with Mount Airy’s small-town charm.
“I love this Main Street you have here,” she said. “It’s so sweet and so wonderful! I feel like I am on the set of film, some movie making. It’s like, American Street, like I imagine myself.”
Unfortunately for their interest in further taking in the Carroll County culture, the group from Iceland only had one day in Mount Airy before heading off to Clarksburg, West Virginia, according to Esteban.
“But we’ve gone to some of the local eateries already and they’ve done some shopping,” he said. “we also went to have lunch down at Carter Cues.”
That trip to a local barbecue establishment was a highlight for Jonsdottir.
“I had a pulled pork sandwich,” she said with a laugh. “It was so good. So good.”
Jonsdottir had never competed in a pageant before winning the Queen Beauty Iceland title, and said it took some getting used to, the shopping for a 10-day competition wardrobe.
“I am actually not a dress person. I’m kind of a tomboy, so this is a new thing for me,” she said. “But I was wearing red on Tuesday when I was crowned Queen Beauty and I love red.”
But the crossing of Icelandic and Maryland pageant title-holders wasn’t complete without a surprise fourth: 14-year-old Alexis Meiklejohn, of Queen Anne, and Miss Maryland Junior Teen for the Royal International Miss pageant, arrived expecting some interview coaching with Esteban, but not his crown wearing entourage.
“I had no idea,” she said. “That was entirely random.”
As the older women looked through dresses, they chatted with Meiklejohn, in particular David, who happily answered questions about the Miss America pageant — a contest Meiklejohn hopes to enter one day.
“It’s a really cool opportunity,” she said. “I am actually going for Miss Maryland Teen USA in October.”