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Wednesday, 18 April, 2001, 16:00 GMT 17:00 UK
Army chic for Israeli beauty queen
Miss Israel Ilanit Levy
The designer says daily life should go on as normal
From front line to fashion statement - Israel's contender in the Miss Universe pageant next month plans to sport a diamond-studded flak jacket over her silk dress.

The bulletproof army-issue vest was designed by Galit Levi, a Tel Aviv fashion designer.

Rana Raslan
Rana Raslan became the first Arab Miss Israel in 1999

She said the dress sent a message that everyday life should go on despite the escalation of Israeli-Palestinian violence, the Associated Press news agency reported.

"I want people in Israel to continue to go out," she said. "But be careful."

The flak jacket will be worn by the current Miss Israel - Ilanit Levy, an 18-year-old soldier from Haifa.

It will go over a silk dress embroidered with diamonds and pearls.

The Miss Universe competition is to be held in Puerto Rico on 11 May.

Miss Israel Ilanit Levy
Flower power: The designer has used political symbolism before

Galit Levi also designed two previous eye-catching dresses for the competition.

In 1998, her design featured the faces of former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and former US President Bill Clinton. The trio made headlines with their Middle East peace efforts.

In 1999, the first Arab Miss Israel, Rana Raslan, wore a dress with a large red Star of David, an Israeli symbol.

The 2000 Miss Universe competition was won by Lara Dutta, a 21-year-old Indian economics student.

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See also:

13 May 00 | South Asia
Miss India rules the universe
27 May 99 | Entertainment
Miss Botswana takes the crown
14 Jan 99 | Middle East
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10 Mar 99 | Middle East
Arab crowned Miss Israel
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