Fashion designer and model R’Bonney Gabriel is crowned Miss Universe


R’Bonney Gabriel, a fashion designer, model and sewing instructor from Texas was crowned Miss Universe last night. 

Almost 90 women took part in the competition at New Orleans Morial Convention Center in Louisiana this week, battling it out in rounds including swimwear and national costume.

Ms Gabriel, who officials said is the first Filipino American to win Miss USA, closed her eyes and clasped hands with runner-up Miss Venezuela, Amanda Dudamel, at the moment of the dramatic reveal of the winner, then beamed after her name was announced.

Thumping music rang out, and she was handed a bouquet of flowers, draped in the winner’s sash and crowned with a tiara on stage at the 71st Miss Universe Competition.

Miss USA R’Bonney Gabriel (pictured) was crowned Miss Universe during the final round of the 71st Miss Universe Beauty Pageant, in New Orleans last night

The second runner-up was Miss Dominican Republic, Andreina Martinez. 

In the Q&A at the last stage of the competition for the three finalists, Ms Gabriel was asked how she would work to demonstrate Miss Universe is ‘an empowering and progressive organisation’ if she was to win.

‘I would use it to be a transformational leader,’ she responded, citing her work using recycled materials in her fashion design and teaching sewing to survivors of human trafficking and domestic violence.

‘It is so important to invest in others, invest in our community and use your unique talent to make a difference.

R'Bonney Gabriel (pictured at the competition at the New Orleans Morial Convention Center last night) has been crowned Miss Universe

R’Bonney Gabriel (pictured at the competition at the New Orleans Morial Convention Center last night) has been crowned Miss Universe

Miss USA R' Bonney Gabriel (left) and Miss Venezuela Amanda Dudamel (right) wait to see who will be crowned Miss Universe

Miss USA R’ Bonney Gabriel (left) and Miss Venezuela Amanda Dudamel (right) wait to see who will be crowned Miss Universe

Contestants applaud R'bonney Gabriel (centre) as she is crowned Miss Universe at the 71st competition in Louisiana last night

Contestants applaud R’bonney Gabriel (centre) as she is crowned Miss Universe at the 71st competition in Louisiana last night

Some 90 women battled it out for the title of Miss Universe at the pageant's 71st outing last night (pictured L-R: Miss Puerto Rico Ashley Carino, Miss Haiti Mideline Phelizor, Miss Australia Monique Rile, Miss Dominican Republic Andreana Martanez and Miss Lasos Payengxa Lor)

Some 90 women battled it out for the title of Miss Universe at the pageant’s 71st outing last night (pictured L-R: Miss Puerto Rico Ashley Carino, Miss Haiti Mideline Phelizor, Miss Australia Monique Rile, Miss Dominican Republic Andreana Martanez and Miss Lasos Payengxa Lor)

Miss Puerto Rico Ashley Carino was among the 90 contestants at the event

Miss Croatia Arijana Podgajski donned a yellow bejewelled frock during the competition

Contestants take to the stage in glitzy gowns as they attend the 71st Miss Universe Competition at New Orleans Morial Convention Center (pictured L-R: Miss Puerto Rico Ashley Carino, Miss Croatia Arijana Podgajski)

Miss South Africa Ndavi Nokeri dons a sparkling purple frock as she waves at the crowd during the Miss Universe competition

Miss South Africa Ndavi Nokeri dons a sparkling purple frock as she waves at the crowd during the Miss Universe competition

‘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.’

According to Miss Universe, Ms Gabriel is a former high school volleyball player and graduate of the University of North Texas.

A short biography posted on the organisation’s website said she is also chief executive of her own sustainable clothing line.

Miss Curacao, Gabriela Dos Santos, and Miss Puerto Rico, Ashley Carino, rounded out the top five finalists.

Miss Portugal Telma Madeira (pictured) takes part in the swimwear round of the 71st Miss Universe competition this week

Miss Portugal Telma Madeira (pictured) takes part in the swimwear round of the 71st Miss Universe competition this week

Miss Haiti Mideline Phelizor walks the runway during the swimwear round

Miss Laos Payengxa Lor dons a fuchsia one-piece and flowing white cape during the swimwear round

During the competition this week, which was held at New Orleans Morial Convention Center in Louisiana, entrants took part in various rounds, including the swimwear segment

Miss Venezuela Amanda Dudamel (pictured) attends The 71st Miss Universe Competition in Louisiana

Miss Venezuela Amanda Dudamel (pictured) attends The 71st Miss Universe Competition in Louisiana 

Miss Canada Amelia Tu was among the nearly 90 contestants in the competition

Miss South Africa Ndavi Nokeri walked in a cut-out blue swimsuit during the event

Nearly 90 contestants from around the world took part in the competition, organisers said, with attendees taking part in swimwear and evening gowns among other rounds

Miss Puerto Rico Ashley Carino beams as she walks the runway during the swimwear round, donning a fuchsia one-piece and lilac robe

Miss Puerto Rico Ashley Carino beams as she walks the runway during the swimwear round, donning a fuchsia one-piece and lilac robe

Speaking about the event, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said: ‘The City of New Orleans and the Miss Universe Organization share common values of celebrating inclusion, culture and the empowerment of women. 

‘Former Miss Universe delegates and winners have gone on to become surgeons, diplomats, politicians and business leaders, and they all champion social causes that are important to them. 

‘Hosting this event demonstrates the significant global impact an international city like New Orleans has on the world’s tourism and cultural stages. 

‘We are honoured to host the 71st annual Miss Universe pageant and show people around the globe why New Orleans is the best in the world at executing major events, festivals, conferences and conventions with a culture that is absolutely unmatched.’

Miss Curacao Gabriela Dos Santos (pictured) participates in the evening gown competition during the final round of the 71st Miss Universe Beauty Pageant

Miss Curacao Gabriela Dos Santos (pictured) participates in the evening gown competition during the final round of the 71st Miss Universe Beauty Pageant

Miss Spain Alicia Faubel (pictured) was among the competitors

Miss Canada Amelia Tu shows off a lavish bejewelled gown at the event

The evening gown round saw competitors show off glitzy gowns as they took to the stage at the event (pictured L-R: Miss Spain Alicia Faubel, Miss Canada Amelia Tu)

Miss South Africa Ndavi Nokeri (pictured) dazzles in a sparkling frock, featuring a deep V neckline and cape-style sleeves

Miss South Africa Ndavi Nokeri (pictured) dazzles in a sparkling frock, featuring a deep V neckline and cape-style sleeves

Miss Peru Alessia Rovegno was a vision in a sparkling silver gown

Meanwhile, Miss Trinidad and Tobago Tya Jane Ramey sported a stylish green dress

The evening gown category of the competition gave the almost 90 competitors an opportunity to show off lavish frocks (pictured L-R: Miss Peru Alessia Rovegno, Miss Trinidad and Tobago Tya Jane Ramey)

Miss USA R'Bonney Gabriel (who was crowned Miss Universe) showcases a glittering black and sheer gown at the Louisiana competition

Miss USA R’Bonney Gabriel (who was crowned Miss Universe) showcases a glittering black and sheer gown at the Louisiana competition

Nearly 90 contestants from around the world took part in the competition, organisers said, involving ‘personal statements, in-depth interviews and various categories including evening gown and swimwear’.   

As ever, one of the most popular categories was the national costume round, which saw contestants take to the stage in outfits representing their home nations.

Miss Great Britain, Noky Simbani wore an elegant white and gown with silver and sapphire diamante detailing and lavish velvet emerald cape with fur trim. 

The 26-year-old from Derbyshire also wore a small silver crown, which looked like it could have been referencing the late Queen Elizabeth II as she represented Great Britain to the world.     

Last year’s winner was Harnaaz Sandhu of India.

Read more

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