Part of her program is even spent emulating the body language and pronunciation of characters from shows like Sex and the City. "Japanese culture places an emphasis on blending in and thinking like a group," says Ligron. "I teach them to stand out, be different, and show their personality."
This year, the well-trained 20-year-old Riyo Mori snagged the title. But instead of praise, the media focused on her failure to represent Japanese culture, which advocates being cute, pale, and submissive. Ligron, however, doesn't care: "My market is young, cool, hip, fashionable people. You cannot please everyone." She adds, "I have a lot of women supporters — my enemies are men. They are afraid of powerful women."
2007 Miss Universe Riyo Mori is a statuesque five feet nine inches and speaks fluent English.