Among a number of incredibly talented contestants, Miss USA R’Bonney Gabriel was announced as Miss Universe 2023 on Saturday in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Gabriel is the first Miss USA to take home the iconic title in over a decade and the first Filipino-American to hold the title of Miss USA and Miss Universe. The beauty queen hails from Houston, Texas, and is the proud daughter of Filipino father Remigio Bonzon “R. Bon” Gabriel and American mother Dana Walker.
Gabriel is the eldest of the family with three younger brothers and is extremely close to her family, even having her father model for her clothing brand, R’bonney Nola.
Gabriel studied fashion with a minor in fibers at the University of North Texas. She has also interned for Nicole Miller before going on to launch her own eco-friendly clothing line. The Southern beauty incorporates elements from her American and Filipino heritage in both her career as a fashion designer and as a pageant contestant. One of Gabriel’s previous collection was titled “Babae Tribe,” with “Babae” translated as “Female” from Tagalog, one of the Philippines’ official languages.
In an Instagram post from April 2021, Gabriel shared a photo alongside several family members during the Miss Houston pageant. She wore coordinating shades of blue and turquoise in a dress of her own design.
One of Gabriel’s most striking looks from the 2023 Miss Universe competition included a NASA-inspired costume that she presented during the National Costume program. The look refers to her father’s words of encouragement to reach the stars and her pride in her hometown Houston’s work to send the first female to the moon.
At the Miss Universe coronation night, Gabriel showcased Pinay pride in a gorgeously bedazzled ombre black-blue gown made by Filipino designer Rian Fernandez.
In one of her post-win interviews, Gabriel enthusiastically claimed her pride for her multicutural background, stating, “The support is everything. I feel it in my heart. I heard it in the room. It was an amazing energy. The Filipino blood is so strong. We are hardworking, we’re fun and we’re determined, and I’m so proud to be half-Filipina.”
The 2023 Miss Universe pageant celebrates international beauty, as well as a range of humanitarian causes from its contestants. Held on Jan. 14 in New Orleans at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. The event calls upon contestants from at least 80 countries to compete for this year’s crown: a diamond and blue sapphire creation by Mouawad Jewelry, titled “Force for Good.” The crown will be bestowed upon the 2023 winner by the 2022 Miss Universe winner Harnaaz Sandhu of India.