A Look at Miss Universe R’Bonney Gabriel’s Sustainable Creations


January 18, 2023
Read Time: 3 minutes

Meet the queen of upcycling. Here’s a look at the sustainable creations of R'Bonney Gabriel



R'Bonney Gabriel made history after being crowned the 71st Miss Universe, the first Filipino American to win the title, on the 16th of January. As the daughter of an immigrant from the Philippines, she takes pride in her heritage and makes sure to preserve our rich culture. In an interview, she shares, “I took that win home for my family, for my community, for Houston, for Texas and for the Asian American community.”


Many have fallen in love with the 28-year-old’s scene-stealing looks on the runway, some of which she made herself. The fashion designer is a lead sewing instructor at the nonprofit design house Magpies and Peacocks, teaching sewing classes to survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking. She’s also a sustainability advocate challenging the fashion industry’s harmful practices with her independent label. 


On her website, R’Bonney writes “There is a special feeling I get when completing a garment I’ve dreamt up. The process of transforming a simple piece of fabric into something much more captivating is quite amazing…In a lot of ways, the art of designing clothes reflects life; it’s challenging, unexpected and beautiful. And if we as humans wear clothing every day, why not make it good?”


See Miss Universe R’Bonney Gabriel’s sustainable designs here: 


Phoenix rising


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A post shared by R’Bonney Nola (@rbonneynola)


If not now, then when? R’Bonney created this scene-stealing swimsuit cape for the pageant, “inspired by the story of the Phoenix Rising who emerged from adversity to become stronger, smarter and more powerful,” which illustrates her Miss Universe journey. She used plastic bottles to design the piece, transforming what we usually perceive as “trash” into one-of-a-kind art. See the full creative process here


Arriving in style 


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A post shared by R’Bonney Nola (@rbonneynola)


Before flying out to the pageant in New Orleans, R’Bonney created her arrival outfit last minute by recycling an oversized pantsuit from a friend who was about to throw the garment out. She reconstructed it into an alluring two-piece ensemble that’s an absolute crowd-pleaser. Here’s how she made it. 


Modern Filipiniana


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A post shared by R’Bonney Nola (@rbonneynola)


The Miss Universe created her version of the modern-day Filipiniana as a tribute to her parents and her heritage. She includes hand-painted flowers, the same pattern from her mom’s wedding dress, and a traditional Maria Clara collar shape. In her Instagram post, she writes, “I’m here to represent Texans, Filipina Americans and those who push past self-doubt to reach their greatest potential.” Watch how she created it here.


RELATED: Where to Find Modern Filipinianas for Any Occasion


Viva Magenta!


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A post shared by R’Bonney Nola (@rbonneynola)


Here’s another contemporary Filipiniana from R’Bonney, this time incorporating a pop of color and highlighting terno sleeves. See how she made it here


Houston Rockets


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A post shared by R’Bonney Nola (@rbonneynola)


For Filipino American Heritage Night in October of last year, the 28-year-old fashion designer upcycled a Houston Rockets hoodie and made it into a fitted cropped top sweater—adding USA to the sleeves—and even a cute bag for a custom game ‘fit. 


$5 steal


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A post shared by R’Bonney Nola (@rbonneynola)


Skin is in! R’Bonney thrift flipped a cream beaded dress she purchased for a US$5 bargain, making it into her own design, which highlights cutouts and bares a lot of skin. See the full transformation here.  


RELATED: Cut It Out—Literally! The Return of Cutouts, Keyholes and More


Corporate chic


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A post shared by R’Bonney Nola (@rbonneynola)


The queen of upcycling transformed a dreary men’s suit into an elegant women’s blazer with ruffles. It may not be “office-appropriate” but that’s why this look is a winner! She details the full transformation here


Which sustainable creations are your favorite from Miss Universe R’Bonney Gabriel? 



Photos R’Bonney Gabriel on Instagram

Art Macky Arquilla


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