We are as interested in any unusual, unused, or even thrown-away material or textile that makes a great wardrobe piece as we are latex couture. So, we must applaud Miss USA R’Bonney Gabriel. Before winning the 71st Miss Universe crown in New Orleans last week, the Houston triple threat lady (Gabriel is a model, fashion designer, and sewing instructor) stunned in the swimwear portion of the competition wearing a cape she made from recyclable materials.
Sharing some of her design processes on her Instagram account, Gabriel wrote that the cape was “sustainably dyed and designed using plastic bottles.” She also used sustainably sourced wire and netting, a candle’s flame to shape the bottles, and orange dyes. The 28-year-old explained further that she was inspired by this design by the classic story of “Phoenix Rising” and wanted the cape to show that one can indeed make “art” from “trash.”
Strutting in her near complete bikini while spreading the cape, the motto “If Not Now, Then When” could clearly be seen printed on the back of the cape’s orange sides.
According to this article, we humans “generate 2.12 billion tons of garbage.” But thankfully, there have been lots of companies, and more popping up all the time that use recycled plastic bottles of the kind Gabriel used. Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) comes from these types of bottles and is used in fibers for clothing.
R’Bonney Gabriel, the child of her Filipino father, Remigio Bonzon “R. Bon” Gabriel, and her American mom, Dana Walker, graduated from the University of North Texas with a B.A. in fashion design with a minor in fibers. With her most recent crowning, Gabriel became the ninth entrant from the United States to win the Miss Universe title and the oldest lady to win the crown. She was previously crowned Miss USA 2022.