Miss Taiwan had a haughty glamour and piercing brown eyes, but somehow it was her glittering dress that stood out - a slashed-to-the-navel ensemble that appeared to have no visible means of support.
It was difficult not to think of the double-sided tape that would have to be painfully removed later. And, of course, the high-tech engineering with which we associate her country's industrial success.
At least you knew where you were with 25-year-old Fang-Hsi Hsu, one of 57 contestants at last weekend's Miss Intercontinental beauty pageant in Poland.
World-beaters: Winner Miss Colombia, centre, with runners-up Miss Poland, left, and Miss Belarus
Things got a little confusing when I bounded up to Miss Wales, anxious to know which part of the principality Sonam Kaur, 18, hailed from.
The Brecon Beacons? Swansea? 'Oh, no,' she said. 'I'm from Birmingham.' But your parents are Welsh born and bred? 'No,' she replied in a thick Black Country accent. 'No one in my family is from Wales.'
So why are you representing Wales? 'Because there was no one else, really.'
Sonam, a student of geography, business and sociology, was a Miss Birmingham entrant but was placed in Wales as the face most likely to win for the country - a country in which she had never set foot.
Miss Intercontinental isn't quite as familiar to British television viewers as Miss World, on which I worked for three years in the Nineties as Press officer, PA and chaperone.
While Miss World is the Rolls-Royce of beauty pageants, Miss Intercontinental - nothing to do with the hotel chain - is a souped-up Fiat Punto with European number plates.
It is run by the World Beauty Organisation (WBO) and cost £200,000 to stage this year.
The venue was the House Of Dance And Music, a modern, grey-domed building near Katowice in southern Poland. Eighties throwback band Boney M were there to provide music.
While the traditional beauty contest elements remain - there is still an obsession with swimsuits and national costumes - it is clear that the beauty pageant has moved on in the years since political correctness pulled it from mainstream TV schedules in the Eighties.
Rumours abounded about who had had what type of cosmetic work (it is not forbidden in the Intercontinental rule book; indeed one of the judges was a prominent Turkish plastic surgeon). Hair extensions swished under the lights and there was enough fake tan to fill the Oder River.
Just before the start of the evening's televised show, a siren sounded in the packed auditorium. It turned out they were set off by girls smoking backstage.
Sadly, after 37 years, the show still doesn't have a decent translator. The organisers asked each girl to bring her own 'personal gadget' to be auctioned for charity. Perhaps they meant 'souvenir'?
Under 'sports' were listed the languages that each girl spoke. For instance Miss Lithuania, 17-year-old Birute Ghosn, enjoyed playing Russian, apparently.
And the glossy brochure informed us the event would be shown on 'at least ten television sets throughout the world'.
Friendship, fortunately, conquers all linguistic frontiers. There aren't many places where you'd find Miss China sharing a cigarette with Miss Afghanistan and discussing eyeliner with Miss Russia.
Pom-pom explosion: Miss England Sophie-Leigh Anderson
While the UN Security Council agonises over some impenetrable peace treaty, admirable young people are forging international alliances. Luckily, there was no Miss USA to shatter the calm.
Even more inspiring, Miss England, Sophie-Leigh Anderson (favourite sports: English and Spanish) actually is from England. Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire, to be precise.
Sophie-Leigh, 18, told me she does a lot of 'motor work', by which I think she meant posing on the bonnets of new cars rather than fixing exhausts.
Her choice of national costume in the first segment of the show, however, might have been better suited to the garage forecourt.
An explosion in a red, white and blue pom-pom factory, it was part Munchkin, part pearly queen and part outtake from an Eighties Adam Ant video.
To be fair, few contestants covered themselves in glory in that section. Miss Wales sported a veil, white elbow-length gloves and a rib-crunching bodice emblazoned with a red dragon.
That was restrained compared with Miss Russia, Elena Nikolaeva, 25, who wore an ice-blue, flame-retardant nightie with white net curtains swirling around her ankles.
Of far greater concern was Miss Afghanistan, who modelled a revealing, emerald green sequined evening gown, and Miss Iraq who skipped on stage in a yellow bikini accompanied, bizarrely, by a jazzed-up version of The Beatles' Can't Buy Me Love.
I worry about the reception these two girls will receive when they get home, assuming they are from those troubled nations - they were probably both Australian.
After an evening-dress parade, the judges announced the final 15. Of Great Britain's entries, only Miss Scotland made it through.
Then it was time to show off cocktail dresses before the winner was announced - Miss Scotland having come a creditable tenth.
The winner was Miss Colombia, Cristina Carmago, 23, my favourite - bright, with a natural charm and the looks of Eva Longoria.
She won £15,500 and a year's use of the £220,000 platinum-and-diamond crown. Cristina temporarily removed the bauble at the after-show party - prompting a few minutes' blind panic that it had gone missing.
So was it all worth the hours of primping and strutting? The girls I met insisted they didn't do it for the money but for the opportunities it created.
Last year's winner, Nancy Aflouny from Lebanon, has her own TV show at home and plenty of modelling work. The highlight of her year, she reckoned, had been meeting Enrique Iglesias.
But this is the point: no matter how kitsch and chaotic this blur of beauty appeared, it was harmless fun with no hint of exploitation.
Writer Georgea Blakey, a former PA for Miss World
Such contests, their detractors have argued, demean women, yet when I worked for Miss World I met a lot of intelligent, self-possessed women. No one took advantage of them.
Most girls entering beauty contests do so to launch a career based on their looks. They are usually models already - not misguided drainage engineers.
Yes, they may moan about sore feet and their cheeks aching from constant smiling, but they know what they're letting themselves in for.
Indeed, they're treated like royalty, with their own chaperones and lots of fabulous clothes.
But the argument goes further. In the years since Miss World disappeared from mainstream TV, what passes for entertainment has coarsened.
Reality shows are far more cruel and manipulative than anything a beauty pageant could muster.
No entrant in Miss Intercontinental was ever told to lose weight. Sneering judges did not humiliate the girls in front of the cameras.
For all the false eyelashes and jutting hips, contests such as Miss Intercontinental are tame. There's almost a nostalgic innocence about them.
Eric Morley launched Miss World in 1951 to brighten a Britain still subsisting on ration books. In today's gloomy financial climate, putting a glitzy beauty contest back on television could be just what we all need to cheer us up.
A river of fake tan at the beauty pageant - and a Miss Wales who's never been to Wales | Mail Online