R'Bonney, long brown hair, gold earrings, navy-colored T-shirt

R'Bonney N. Gabriel

2018, B.F.A., Fashion Design
Miss Universe 2022
Lead Instructor, Magpies and Peacocks, Houston
Website: R'Bonney Nola
Instagram: rbonneynola | rbonneynola_design

July 2023 Update: Along with the bejeweled crown and the title comes the responsibility to take on a public cause. The “Force for Good” crown is estimated to be a $5.5 million crown encrusted with diamonds and sapphires with 993 stone settings that she can wear during her reign.

R'Bonney posing with her arms on her shoulders, white gown, Miss Universe crown and sashGabriel has been the ambassador for six months of the year to spread messages about various global issues, including peace, the control of diseases, and public awareness of her platform topic, ethics and sustainability in the fashion industry. R’Bonney has been awarded many perks, including an annual salary, cash prize and other benefits, such as a lavish New York apartment and offered casting calls and modeling opportunities. She can access top fashion brands, make-up artists, and luxury accommodations and obtain anything from them free of cost. She also gains exclusive access to fashion shows, and opening galas; she also attends important humanitarian activities, such as the Smile Train in Guatemala. 

January 2023: Miss USA R’Bonney Nola Gabriel, 2018, B.F.A., Fashion Design, is crowned Miss Universe 2022 — the first American to win in a decade.

With an estimated TV audience of 500 million viewers in more than 190 territories, 84 contestants vied on Jan. 14, 2023, for the title at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. According to the organization, Gabriel, crowned Miss Texas in October 2022, was the first Filipino American to win Miss USA.

The Miss Universe Organization recently made an inclusive change, allowing mothers and married women to compete in the pageant next year. During the final question and answer segment of Saturday night's competition, the top three contenders were asked how they would work to demonstrate Miss Universe as an empowering and progressive organization if they won the title. Gabriel answered that she would use her platform to be a "transformational leader" and emphasized how she uses fashion as a force for good by cutting down on pollution by using recycled materials when she makes her clothing. 

R'Bonney Gabriel smiling, wearing the Miss Universe crown.To the question, “What’s another change you’d like to see and why?” Gabriel replied she’s in favor of an age increase for contestants: “If not now, then when? Age does not define us," she said. “It’s not tomorrow, it’s not yesterday, but it’s now, the time is now, that you can go after what you want!”

Gabriel says she hopes to encourage all people to embrace their own culture. Her mom is from Beaumont, Texas, and her father is an immigrant from the Philippines. To Gabriel, preserving and celebrating her culture has always been a priority. Although she never saw a state titleholder that looked like her, she never let that hinder her confidence, she said. As a voice for Asian Americans, she plans to continue to work to open doors for more diversity and representation in society. The pageant's advocacy is "humanitarian issues and is a voice to affect positive change in the world."

R'Bonney at the sewing machine, bookshelf in the backgroundGabriel is an eco-friendly fashion designer of her own sustainable clothing line, model, and the lead sewing instructor at Magpies & Peacocks, a Houston-based non-profit design house dedicated to using fashion as a force for good. A self-described optimist, she attributes her outlook to her upbringing immersed in the arts, sports and travel.

As a "Gucci Changemakers" recipient, she has been honored for diverting unwanted textiles and fabrics from landfills and turning them into fashion collections. Within the "MAKR" program, she teaches sewing classes to women who have survived human trafficking and domestic violence.

Independent Label

Closeup of a sewing needle going over the R'BONNEY NOLA label.R’BONNEY NOLA is Gabriel's independent label from Houston practicing sustainable design methods and using repurposed/natural fabrics. Created for those seeking artistic expression in their wardrobe, the brand encourages a lifestyle of self-confidence and individuality. Each garment is handmade with attention to detail to reflect the core value of quality clothing. With a commitment to sustainability, the garments are mindfully created with experimental textures, embroideries, and unique handwork to reduce the amount of textile waste produced by each piece. By recycling more fabrics and reducing the number of fabric scraps made during production, fashion can be friendlier to our planet.

Image: Miss USA R'Bonney Gabriel reacts as she is crowned Miss Universe during the final round of the 71st Miss Universe Beauty Pageant. Photos by LAPRESSE and courtesy of R'Bonney Gabriel.