• Fashion

R’Bonney Nola Gabriel: Queen of the Universe is A Sustainable Fashion Designer

For as long as she can remember, R’Bonney Nola Gabriel has had one dream – to be a sustainable fashion designer and to teach girls and abused women how to be one too.

Gabriel’s commitment to her craft and passion is such that she wishes to inspire people and be a transformational leader, using recycled materials in her fashion design and teaching sewing to survivors of human trafficking and domestic violence.

She said, “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.”

Gabriel, who also happens to be the current Miss Universe, shared with Paper City magazine, “I first started sewing at age 15. I grew up visiting thrift and vintage stores with my mother to buy our clothing. I would always find unique pieces that would never fit me, so my mom would alter them on the sewing machine. She showed me how to take something and make it into my own ― which is where I really started upcycling without even realizing it.

“After sewing for five years, I watched a documentary on the issue of pollution in the fashion industry, which really opened up my eyes to those issues. From that day on, I realized I needed to be a part of the solution to make fashion more sustainable in the industry.”


In the ‘Miss Universe in March’ Newsletter, R’Bonney Nola Gabriel reaffirmed, “My passion is sustainability, which focuses on meeting the needs in our lives without compromising future generations’ resources. Knowing that only 15% of clothing gets re-used, I am determined to make a change as a designer; I’m working on curating design workshops, school visits, and speaking on sustainable and ethical fashion panels.”


Born on March 20, 1994, in Houston, Texas to Filipino-born Ramon Bonifacio “R’Bon” Gabriel from Malate, Philippines, and Dana Walker from Beaumont, Texas, Gabriel has a bachelor’s degree in fashion and a minor in fabrics from the University of North Texas.

Unlike other beauty contestants, Gabriel makes most of her own gowns and outfits and uses sustainable materials to do so.


She also runs her own sustainable fashion clothing line called R’Bonney Nola which uses repurposed fabrics and natural fibers.

Her brand bio states, “Each garment is handmade with attention to detail to reflect the core value of quality clothing.”


She teaches sewing at a non-profit organization called Magpies and Peacocks, which champions sustainability in the art fashion and culture sector, while supporting young professionals and marginalized communities.

She said in an in-person interview with the HFPA while she was in Los Angeles, “Yes, I did my arrival gown and my interview gown myself. I am a sustainable fashion designer and I love to cut out large pieces of cloth and make them into something new. I am really pushing the industry to be sustainable.

“My father is from Manila, Philippines, and my mom is from Beaumont, Texas, so I combined these two cultures in their honor and made an outfit with a Filipina Maria Clara collar shape. I have immense gratitude for the opportunities my parents provided me, and I wanted to express my love to them through this.”

Gabriel added, “I am passionate about design, and I also teach sewing classes to women who were abused or involved in human trafficking. I also give sewing classes to schools and give educational classes on fashion to these kids because I believe education can give everybody better opportunities in life and we need an abundance of opportunities.”

The statuesque 28-year-old beauty shared what she felt to be her life’s mission. She revealed, “My life mission is to be the leading sustainable fashion designer in the industry. I want people to be inspired by hard work and to achieve success by focusing and putting their heads down.”


Asked what advice she would give to young girls who would like to follow in her footsteps, Gabriel replied, “I would advise them never to let their self-doubt hinder them from going after what they want to do. You can have your wildest dream and make it happen. Impossible dreams are possible. If you focus full force, you can have your dreams come true. I want young girls to firmly believe in that, because it happened to me, and it can happen to them, too.”