Michael Cinco likes stealing the show.
The Dubai-based fashion genius has heralded many a breathtaking showings in lacquered runways around the globe, eliciting one response from the fashion faithful: complete awe.
Cinco has enamored a vast clientele of Hollywood celebrities, society personalities, and even royalties from Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Dagestan, China, Macau, and of course, the Americas and Europe be in the form of lavish wedding dresses to straight-from-the-runway red carpet creations. The inarguable charm in Cinco’s creations lies in the extraordinary marriage of delicate materials with intricate details. It’s this brand of meticulous artistry that let Cinco etch an indelible mark not just in the world of fashion, but in fine arts and design—weaving one enviable couture creation after another.
The 45-year-old artisan revels in one’s creative process, fueled greatly by visual stimuli collected through constant exploration of different cultures in varying periods. But before this creativity led him to thrive and dress a long list of bigwigs from Beyonce, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, Kylie Minogue, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Nicole Scherzinger, Fergie Ferguson, Dita Von Teese, Brandy, Ashanti, Chris Brown, Tyra Banks, and Naomi Campbell, Cinco was a creative ingénue in Samar with an appetite for beauty.
“Samar was a dreamland. For where it fell short, I made up for it with the wild imaginations of a child hungry for beauty,” he recalls. “From our simple abode, I looked out through the French windows and see the Swiss Alps covered in snow. And on the other side, I see the coastline and imagine the French Riviera with pink dolphins frolicking near the shore. All that, as I was in the midst of playing an aria in our imaginary baby grand piano, in the company of Hollywood stars wearing flowing gowns made of the softest, most diaphanous fabrics I made out of the dried leaves that I was tasked to clear out in the backyard.”
Growing up enjoying the simplistic beauty and richness of his hometown, the young would-be celebrated designer attributes his success to his solid support system back when he was still a young dreamer with big ambitions and black-and-white television. “We had a black and white tv, but that didn’t stop me from watching Hollywood movies with the stars waltzing and romping in ball gowns of the brightest, most vivid colors. I imagined them all in fabulous dresses I myself made in my wild, techni-colored dreams.” He continues, “Thankfully, we are a family of dreamers. We support each other’s dreams and in the pursuit of them.”
From the first dress he made for his mother, straight from visual inspirations from Breakfast at Tiffany’s and other creative influences imprinted by images of sophistication and raw magnetism of iconic women like Joan Crawford, Audrey Hepburn, Marlene Dietrich and Grace Kelly, Cinco went on to take an arts course at the University of the Philippines Diliman before moving to Slims Fashion and Arts School in Manila.
Cinco was then propelled to move to the Middle East in 1997, in hopes of immersing himself more in the world of fashion and the arts for his creative vocation. “Moving to the Middle East was a big leap for me, the region is a haven of haute couture,” he notes. “In my Arabic dreams, I was born in Dubai. I am a reincarnation of a reclusive Arabian princess who sang the opera.”
In 2002, he earned more training and know-how at the Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design in London. Following this training, Cinco went on into establishing his own fashion line, Michael Cinco Dubai—a birth of sorts of his impalpable dreams. Cinco writes on his personal site, “In my first job in Dubai, I reinvented the image of a slightly staid fashion house, and succeeded in injecting new fashion nuances. Now, it’s great to know that the elite fashionistas of Dubai eventually recognized my passion for fashion.”
By then, a Cinco creation has become synonymous to exquisite craftsmanship, showcasing feminine silhouettes with a luxury of ornate detailing. This led to him receiving accolades and recognition from fashion authorities from being given the Breakthrough Designer award from the WGSN Global Fashion in 2011 that was then followed by a long line of distinctions ultimately leading to him being hailed the Best Designer in Grazia’s Style Awards 2016. Cinco also earned a slot in the Asian Couture Federation as one of the elite members of the best designers in Asia with Kenzo Tanaka and ACF President Dr. Frank Cintamani at the helm.
With nods to geniuses as the timeless Charles James, Christian Dior, John Galliano, and Alexander McQueen, Cinco went on to create a dent that is uniquely his. He says, “I live life with the mindset of a child. It is easier and less complicated. And it gives me more leeway to think wildly, and to be inspired endlessly.”
Hollywood mainstream media then picked up on Cinco’s unique worldview as a Filipino artist, turning heads of a number of TV and runway heavyweights from his appearance in the long-running reality show, America’s Next Top Model, picked up by the show’s creator, Tyra Banks, herself. Sofia Vergara, garbed in a Cinco number, was hailed best dressed by fashion critics when she appeared in the Golden Globes red carpet in 2013 while British pop star Paloma Faith, adorned by another Cinco masterpiece, walked the MET Gala in New York. He was also behind several costumes worn by actress Mila Kunis for the Hollywood film, Jupiter Ascending.
When asked about tales about a distinct character who stood out from his long list of A-list clients, he replied, “They are all my muses. And I am forever grateful for their trust and at how they put passion in wearing the Michael Cinco brand.” Playfully, he writes, “A Michael Cinco woman is moneyed. She may not be born into royalty but she better be married into one. My clothes appear seamless. They look heavy and yet they float. They look expensive simply because they are.”
In the Philippines, Cinco has also penetrated public consciousness by appearing in packed halls and auditoriums before the fashion elite. His first ever perfume called, IMPALPABLE, was also launched in 2013. This was then followed by the launch of a limited edition underwear collection for international homegrown brand Bench.
In recognition of his creative stamp and in celebration of his illustrious career, while proudly wearing the Filipino colors, President Benigno Aquino Jr. awarded Cinco with the Presidential Award for Outstanding Filipinos Overseas in 2014.
It was in 2016 when Cinco debuted his Autumn-Winter Collection at the Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week—a Filipino first. The soft spoken designer said zestfully, “Paris is the realization of an impalpable dream. Need I say more?” As he has conquered runways around the globe, television, and movies, what else does he wish to accomplish? “My goodness. I have only just begun.”
For his Fall/Winter 2017 collection, Cinco has produced yet another inspired lineup of designs with stark references to architectural details of the Palace of Versailles. This visual revelry translated baroque features of Versailles into intricately-designed gowns and dresses that easily wowed his loyal base of fashion fans.
Cinco has elaborately brought his canvas of ideas to the forefront of the fashion arena, beyond runways around the globe. Rank asked, what’s next for Michael Cinco and his affair with design and the arts, he answers, “Be recklessly, wildly and madly in love.”
Images courtesy of Tina Patni (banner image) from The Impalpable Dream of the Versailles, Spring-Summer 2017. Body images courtesy of Rozen Antonio from “In the Mood for Love”. All images used with the permission of Michael Cinco.