R’Bonney Gabriel Wins Miss Universe 2022
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R’Bonney Gabriel Wins Miss Universe 2022

Dion Trinidad

The Filipino-American Miss USA gave an inspiring answer in her Q&A segment.

Following an exciting pageant, Miss United States candidate R’Bonney Nola Gabriel has been hailed as the new Miss Universe at the pageant’s 71st annual competition held at New Orleans, Louisiana on January 14. 2023.

Miss USA R’Bonney Gabriel and Miss Venezuela Dudamel clasp hands. Photograph by Dion Trinidad.
Filipino-American R’bonney Gabriel is the new Miss Universe. Photograph by Dion Trinidad

The beauty queen from Texas is the first Filipino-American Miss Universe winner, and is likewise the first of her heritage to represent the USA. She took her winning walk in a black velvet cutout gown by Filipino couturier Rian Fernandez. As she sashayed, her gown’s onyx and glass mirror drops caught the light in scintillating fashion, while its fringe skirt with sapphire Swarovski crystals “depicted the movement of life.” This according to Fernandez, “stands for the new era of emerging women”, and is also to him a “vivid portrayal of a phenomenal Queen.”

Gabriel was crowned by Harnaaz Sandhu with the breathtaking Mouawad “Force for Good” tiara, crafted with 48 carats of diamonds and 108 carats of sapphires. According to the Lebanese haute joaillerie brand, the crown celebrates the “power of women to use their voices to make a positive impact on the world.”

There could fortuitously be no better crown the for this 28-year-old beauty queen, who has long used her background as a designer to make a difference in the lives of people around her.

One of the frontrunners during the preliminaries, she had pageant fans at the edge of their seats, eventually being one of the top 3 in the contest that this year had 84 amazing contenders.


“We all have something special, and when we plant those seeds (to) other people in our life, we transform them, and we use that as a vehicle for change.”

– R’Bonney Gabriel


When asked the crucial final question by host Jeannie Mae, “If you win Miss Universe, how will you work to demonstrate this is an empowering and progressive organization?” Gabriel gave an inspiring response:

“Well, I would use it to be a transformational leader. As a very passionate designer, (I’ve) been sewing for 13 years, I use fashion as a force for good. In my industry, I’m cutting down on pollution through recycled materials when I make my clothing. I teach sewing classes to women that have survived from human trafficking and domestic violence. And I say that because it is so important to invest in others, invest in our community, and use your unique talent to make a difference. We all have something special, and when we plant those seeds (to) other people in our life, we transform them, and we use that as a vehicle for change.”

As lead sewing instructor at Magpies and Peacocks, a non-profit design house based off of Houston, she supports the charity’s sustainability and community impact efforts.

The eco-friendly fashion creator likewise runs her own eponymous label, R’Bonney Nola, which utilizes upcycled and natural materials to create stylish new garments, all while cutting down on one’s carbon footprint.

With her parents Dana Walker and Remigio Bonzon Gabriel. Photograph by Dion Trinidad.
R’Bonney Gabriel’s Miss USA national costume. Photograph by Dion Trinidad

Gabriel is likewise keen on using her platform as a way to represent the Asian-American community. Born of a Filipino father and an American mother from Texas, she uses her couture to highlight her heritage. With her unique talent, Gabriel is often seen in Filipiniana attire that she had personally made, all injected with her unique flair. She also strutted in stellar form in an elaborate National Costume to celebrate the NASA moon landing, in a glittering ensemble of Stars and Stripes.

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