It doesn’t happen too often that the winner of the Miss World contest comes from the same country as a former winner – certainly not in a short space of time anyway – but one nation has actually produced three winners of the prestigious title despite only being an independent nation for 70 years.
Iceland, that hidden gem stashed away at the top of Europe on the edge of the Arctic circle, became independent from Danish rulership in 1944 and hasn’t looked back since. The likes of Bjork have become global music stars while fashion designers have developed their own luxury clothing brands that are destined to crack the European and American markets anytime soon, especially the way the styles keep wowing crowds at the various international fashion shows.
The country only made its first appearance in 1955, with Arna Hjorleifsdóttir making it through to the main event in London. Unfortunately for Arna and Iceland, she failed to make it through to the semi final stage and the wait for a first Miss World winner would go on for 30 years before Hólmfríður Karlsdóttir (pictured, left) took the title in 1985.
She had what you would probably call a typically “Nordic” look about her with her flowing blonde hair and startling blue eyes. In the final of the event she wore a long blue gown and held off competition from the UK and USA to take the 1985 crown.
Like buses, the victories all started to come at the same time. Three years later, in 1988, Linda Pétursdóttir was Iceland’s entry in the competition and she held off the challenge of entrants from the United Kingdom and Korea to win the Miss World crown. In the final, Linda (pictured, right) wore a low-cut black dress, the typical little black dress, and had her blonde hair styled similarly to how Karlsdóttir had hers when she was successful in a very professional style.
Since winning Miss World, Linda has spent time in the United States and even managed her own health spa, maintaining that professionalism and making the business suit trendy, especially around Iceland.
There was then a long wait before an Icelandic entrant won the crown again. In fact, there were 17 years between Pétursdóttir’s victory in London and Unnur Birna Vilhjalmsdottir winning in China in the 2005 event. This time, she wore a black dress with white pattern, showing off some bright colours which were now becoming popular in Icelandic and Nordic fashion, styles still adopted by today’s designers.
Since winning the title, Vilhjalmsdottir has remained in modelling but has also branched out into other careers, notably studying anthropology and taking a degree in law.