The fashion industry is taking notice of the Gulf and for all the right reasons. Our local designer’s creations that have graced the international red carpets and are worn by celebrities worldwide are turning heads with their artistic designs. We spoke to some of the savants of design who have put the Middle East on the fashion map
Dubai based Filipino designer, Michael Cinco is best known for his fabulous couture creations His clientele includes Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Rihanna and so many more. His gowns are breathtaking leaving the fashion lovers absolutely smitten
How did you decide to get into Haute Couture?
Ever since when I was a kid I was always fascinated by great Hollywood movies with beautiful heroines wearing glamorous couture gowns with exquisite details on beadworks and crystals. So, I think my design aesthetics were influenced by these classic Hollywood movies.
What are your thoughts before starting to design a new collection?
I travel a lot. I try to explore the world around me, meet different kinds of people and appreciate each other’s diversity. I get inspirations from the places I visit. I’m inspired from the arts in the museum, architecture and historical places. I love the opera. After I gather everything that inspires me and feed my soul, I then start to visualize a collection.
What has been your favorite design till date?
The first collection I made was for the Swarovski show in 2006. It was inspired from a statue I saw in Rome and called it ‘The Impalpable Dream’. That was the beginning of my ‘Impalpable Dream’ series of collection.
Do you remember the time when your outfit first went international? Can you please describe that moment?
America’s Next Top Model was my first foray into the international arena. I was asked by Tyra Banks to appear in Cycle 16 and she was impressed from the collection I made for the reality show that she asked me to appear again in Cycle 17, All-Star and did the finale show of that season. After that exposure I was approached by many stylists in Hollywood and started dressing up Hollywood celebrities like Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez, Kylie Minogue, Sofia Vergara, Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, Paloma Faith and others. I then designed the costume for Mila Kunis in the blockbuster movie, ‘Jupiter Ascending’ and Lady Gaga in the hit TV series ‘American Horror Story: Hotel’.
You were asked by Tyra Banks to create an eco-couture collection. What was your first reaction when you heard the offer? Tell us about that moment?
I got an email from one of the producers of ANTM and they asked me if I could do a collection for one of the segments in the show. I submitted my designs and Tyra Banks was impressed. They asked me to fly to LA for the shoot and the moment I met Tyra, it seemed so surreal and unbelievable. We did the shoot in a landfill and the rest as they say is history. Tyra Banks liked my designs and she recommended me to appear also in Asia’s Next Top Model and China’s Next Top Model.
What are your biggest fashion pet peeves?
It has to be ill-fitting clothes and women wearing so many trends at one time. I really can’t think of any instance where flannel plaid pajamas should be worn outside the home.
What made you choose Dubai for your Haute Couture hub?
I think most women in the world who buy haute couture dresses are from the Middle East. I chose to settle in Dubai because I believe it’s the center of the couture business in the region. Wealthy women from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain come to Dubai to visit couture houses here. They love intricate and exquisite details on their wedding gowns and evening gowns. Women here spend a lot of money in buying couture dresses and they keep the opulent clothes as an investment and value it as an art piece.
What is a Michael Cinco woman about?
A Michael Cinco woman is moneyed. She may not be born into royalty but she better be married into one…hahaha, just kidding. A Michael Cinco woman is sophisticated and elegant.
How is it to compete on an international arena?
You know it’s hard to penetrate the international fashion arena if you don’t have the right connections and a powerful PR. I’m just lucky enough to showcase my collection in fashion weeks abroad like London, New York, Los Angeles, Australia, Miami, Singapore and Manila and got many international clients and buyers. These exposures gave me some recognition and eventually, I won the Global Breakthrough Designer Award in WGSN Global Fashion Awards in New York in 2011. The international press has recognized my work and I had the opportunity to dress up Paloma Faith for the MET Gala, which is dubbed as the Super Bowl of Fashion. I also dressed up some celebrities like Sofia Vergara for the Golden Globes and Jennifer Lopez wore my dress when she hosted the recent American Music Awards. Because of these highlights in my career I was chosen by the Asian Couture Federation to be one of the elite members of the best designers in Asia and eventually conferred the Presidential Award for outstanding Filipinos Abroad by the Philippine President.
You’ve ventured into scents, what made you launch your perfume, Impalpable Dream?
Creating a fragrance has always been a dream for my brand. When I got the chance to collaborate with one of the biggest brands in Asia, BENCH, I immediately proposed for a perfume. It was launched in 2012 and it is very successful. The perfume is called from my favorite word – IMPALPABLE.
What advice would you give to upcoming couture designers?
Young designers of today have to realize that fashion is not all about glamour. It’s not a beautiful world as other people might think. The fashion world is very cruel; you will be criticized, judged and rejected. It takes a lot of hard work, patience and resilience to survive in the industry. You must have a vision and know your design aesthetics. You must have big faith and confidence in yourself. Nurture your creativity and create an art that will make money. And lastly, always believe that anything in this world is possible. Believe in yourself. You can make all of your Impalpable Dreams come true.