R’Bonney Gabriel, The First Fil-Am Miss USA, Makes Her Own Filipiniana
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R’Bonney Gabriel, The First Fil-Am Miss USA, Makes Her Own Filipiniana

Instagram: @rbonneynola

Dorian Qi

The beauty queen won the competition wearing her own creations.

History was made last night as Miss Texas R’Bonney Gabriel bagged the Miss USA crown, making her the first ever beauty queen of Filipino descent to hold the title. The 28-year-old model was born to a Filipino father and an American mother from Texas. She beat around 50 candidates at the pageant and was crowned by 2021 Miss USA Elle Smith.

Gabriel is now getting ready for the international stage. The upcoming Miss Universe pageant is scheduled for January 14 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The brand new Miss USA will go onstage alongside Miss Philippines winner Celeste Cortesi.

Among Gabriel’s talents is a flair for fashion as she actually often makes her own elaborate gowns and costumes. A fashion design graduate from the University of Texas, the beauty queen also runs her very own sustainably-centered clothing line called R’Bonney Nola, which uses repurposed fabrics and natural fibers. According to her brand bio, “Each garment is handmade with attention to detail to reflect the core value of quality clothing.”

On top of fashion and pageantry, Gabriel also teaches sewing at a non-profit organization called Magpies and Peacocks. This champions sustainability in the arts, fashion, and culture sector, while supporting young professionals and marginalized communities.

Though she’s representing the US in the international competition, Gabriel is not one to dismiss her half-Pinoy heritage. She often incorporates Filipiniana elements in her creations, as a nod to her lineage. Take a look at some of R’Bonney Gabriel’s creations:


Classic Butterfly Sleeves

The beauty queen took to Instagram earlier this year to show off a crisp white Terno with a high collar and black bodice, which she handmade for herself.


Modern Maria Clara

In an interview for Miss USA, Gabriel created a look with a silhouette that Filipinos will easily recognize. On her caption, she wrote, “This outfit I designed with my parents in mind—tying in the flower patterns from my mom’s wedding dress and a Filipina traditional Maria Clara collar shape.”


Asymmetric Terno Jumpsuit

The beauty of the Filipiniana is its versatility, thanks to its long history with many influences. Gabriel put her own spin on the Terno by sewing herself a one-shoulder jumpsuit accentuated with hot pink trim and a butterfly sleeve in the same shade to match.

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