Miss Venezuela, Ivian Sarcos, has been crowned the 2011 winner of the Miss World beauty pageant at a glittering ceremony in London.
Wearing a pink dress with diamante studs that had a giant cascade of frills slashed below the waist, the 22-year-old gasped and threw her hands to her face as she was declared the winner.
"I felt the most gorgeous woman in the world. I was so happy and I wanted to shout, to cry, to stand still and to smile. So many emotions," she said.
"I'm incredibly happy for this moment, for this opportunity and for winning, and I'm grateful with my life."
Sarcos, who was brought up in a nunnery after being orphaned aged eight, has a human resources degree and works for a broadcasting company.
Last year's Miss World, Alexandria Mills of the United States, took off her sparkling crown and placed it on her successor's head as Sarcos sat in a shimmering silver throne.
Miss Philippines, Gwendoline Ruais, was named runner-up, while Miss Puerto Rico, Amanda Perez, came third in the contest, which was back in its home city to celebrate its 60th anniversary.
Some 113 beauty queens from Albania to Zimbabwe took their place on the stage at the Earls Court auditorium in west London, with the show being broadcast live to an estimated audience of more than 1 billion viewers in 150 countries.
Around 50 feminists rallied outside, waving placards reading "Objectification won't achieve world peace", "Being a woman is not a competition" and "Sexism is pretty ugly".
Their message was lost on the thousands of fans inside - many dressed to the nines - who cheered, waved flags and shouted for their favourites.
While beauty remains central to the event, brains, skills and good causes also play a major role.
The majority of this year's finalists have degree-level education and can speak at least three languages.
Miss Venezuela topped the interview round; Miss Dominican Republic, Marianly Tejada Burgos, was named the sports champion; home favourite Miss England, Alize Lily Mounter, won beach beauty - the classic swimwear contest; and Miss Kazakhstan, Zhanna Zhumaliyeva, was named top model.
The crowd were played clips from the talent round - where performers sang, danced and gave piano recitals - won by Miss Chile, Gabriela Pulgar Luco.
Miss Ghana, Stephanie Karikari, and Miss Indonesia, Astrid Yunadi, were the joint winners of the beauty with a purpose category, where contestants can highlight a charity project.
Just before the overall winner was announced, a message of support from former South African president Nelson Mandela was read out on stage by one of his grandsons, backing the girls' work "empowering young people to be of service to their communities."
Sarcos's victory means that Venezuela now tops the all-time leaderboard with six titles, pulling clear of India and the United Kingdom.
"Winning means everything to me and I hope to take advantage of being a winner in a productive manner," the 61st Miss World said.
"I first and foremost want to help people in need.
"I would like to help people like me. I am an orphan. I would also like to help the elderly and troubled teenagers. As many people as I can."
The pageant was first held for the 1951 Festival of Britain and was staged in London until 1989.
Next year's Miss World will be held in China's Inner Mongolia.