Fashion Design alumna R'Bonney Gabriel wins Miss USA 2022

R'Bonney Gabriel walked away with another crown at the Oct. 3 competition at the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno, Nev., when Miss Texas became Miss USA 2022. Gabriel, 2018, B.F.A., Fashion Design, made history as the first Filipina American to win Miss Texas USA. Her new role as Miss USA promises to carry her to new heights as her next competition will be at the Miss Universe pageant on Jan. 14, 2023, in New Orleans, La.

“I foresee myself in really dreaming about having a bigger brand that is focused on sustainability and being a leading voice in the industry that's helping the industry push to a more environmentally friendly practice," Gabriel said.

The fashionista even designed her Miss USA interview outfit herself, with a special message. “I designed this to pay tribute to my parents,” she wrote on Instagram. "My mom is from Beaumont, TX and my father is from the Philippines. They got married in Manila Philippines. I hand-painted the same flower design from my mother's wedding dress onto my sleeves and tied in a traditional Maria Clara Filipina collar shape. I have immense gratitude for the oppoortunites [sic] my parents provided me and wanted to express my love to them through this.”

Gabriel was flooded with cheers, especially from Filipinas, who cried tears of joy when she won the Texas pageant, Gabriel shared on Instagram. Then she noticed that congratulations were coming in from people of many backgrounds, both male and female, and the “Filipina Texan” realized she is paving the way for Asian-Americans, yes, but also many other dreamers all drawing inspiration from her, in whatever lane they’re in.

The more her fans learn about R’Bonney, the more they discover her strengths as a Renaissance woman: eco-friendly fashion designer, sewing instructor for domestic violence survivors, artist helping women learn tools for success, and advocate for sustainability in the fashion industry.

R’Bonney’s belief that people should get to explore an abundance of opportunities to find their purpose and passion hearkens back to her own experience, as a high-school volleyball player who pivoted to fashion when she started sewing at age 15 and fell in love with the making of things with fabrics and textiles. After earning her degree at UNT, Gabriel interned with fashion designer Nicole Miller in New York City.

Gabriel has worked at the nonprofit design house Magpies & Peacocks, which collects discarded materials and upcycles them into new collections.

She modeled for six years before discovering the opportunities afforded by the Miss Universe Organization. In 2021, her first year at Miss Texas USA, R’Bonney placed as first runner-up, then she returned in 2022 with the mindset of out-competing everyone else, and her dedication paid off.

Meanwhile, her fundamental focus of honoring her talents by “giving back” remains true and winning gives her a new platform that has made her classroom bigger and more glamorous. At rbonneynola.com and Instagram: @rbonneynola, followers can see her fashion design and how she ripped up a coat she found at a thrift store and whipped up her dress for the pageant’s opening number. She also designed and crafted her interview outfit and rehearsal wardrobe. For the evening gown competition, she wore a stunning, hand-beaded creation by Filipino fashion designer Rian Fernandez inspired by the Texas state flower, a bluebonnet.

Away from the spotlight, R’Bonney loves to hula hoop, backpack and read, especially the writings of motivational speaker Les Brown, who authored her favorite quote, “Don’t let someone else’s opinion of you become your reality.”

R'Bonney Gabriel in a gold evening gown wearing the Miss USA sash and crown

R'Bonney Gabriel, Miss USA 2022 | Photo: Miss USA Instagram
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R'Bonney Gabriel wearing a blue costume inspired by the Texas bluebonnet

R'Bonney Gabriel won the Miss USA costume show, wearing a costume inspired by the Texas state flower, a bluebonnet, and designed by Patrick Isorena, a fashion designer in Quezon City, Philippines. Photo: Miss USA

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