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  • Miss USA R’Bonnie Gabriel was crowned the 71st Miss Universe on Saturday.
  • During the competition, she wore a swimsuit cape that she designed herself using plastic bottles.
  • Gabriel, 28, says he did it to “show how art can be made out of what we perceive as trash.”

Before being crowned Miss Universe, Miss USA R’Bonnie Gabriel wowed the audience with her homemade designs during the swimsuit competition.

Gabrielle won the 71st Miss Universe pageant on Saturday night in New Orleans, Louisiana. Miss Venezuela, Amanda Dudamel, took second place, followed by Miss Dominican Republic, Andreyna Martinez.

But before becoming the first American to win Miss Universe in a decade, the model, fashion designer and sewing instructor from Houston, Texas made her mark in the swimwear segment by wearing a cape she created using recycled materials.

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

Sharing an insight into the design process on Instagram, Gabriel wrote that the cape was “sustainably dyed and designed using plastic bottles.” The video has garnered 42,000 likes since it was posted on Saturday.

“I collected and repurposed this cloak to show how art can be made from what we perceive as trash,” he added. “It also embodies my favorite message, ‘If not now, then when?’ The slogan is visibly printed on the back of the orange cape.

Miss USA, Roboni Gabriel walks on stage during the 71st Miss Universe Preliminary Pageant at the Morial Convention Center in New Orleans on January 11, 2023 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

R’Bonney Gabriel has already won the Miss USA title.

Josh Brasted/Getty Images

In the music video for Adele’s ‘Set Fire To The Rain’, Gabriel showed her using a candle flame to decorate plastic bottles and using orange dyes to dye the fabric of her cape.

“I designed this swimsuit cape inspired by the story of Phoenix Rising, who rose from adversity to become stronger, smarter and more powerful,” she wrote in the caption. “I have kept this in mind in my journey through the luxuries. Failures will always happen in life, but we can choose to let them bring us down or use them as fuel to rise.”

Gabriel also said she spent 10 days leading up to the pageant working on her cape design and even dyed the cape fabric on Christmas Day to look like fire, according to her Instagram stories.

In addition to recycled plastic, she also worked with sustainably sourced wire and mesh to construct the eye-catching piece.

R'Bonney Gabriel showed on his Instagram how he designed the swimsuit cape.

R’Bonney Gabriel showed on Instagram how he designed the swimsuit cape.

R’Bonney Gabriel/Instagram

Gabriel spoke about his passion for sustainable design during Saturday’s final question round, Insider’s Annetta Constantinides reports.

“As a very passionate designer, I’ve been sewing for 13 years, I use fashion as a force for good. In my industry, I reduce pollution by using recycled materials when I make my clothes. I give sewing courses to women who have survived human trafficking and domestic violence,” said Gabriel.

“And I say that because it’s so important to invest in others,” he added. “Invest in our community and use your unique talent to make a difference. We all have something special, and when we plant those seeds in other people in our lives, we transform them and use that as a vehicle for change.”


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