The boy who dreamt the âimpalpableâ dream
Michael Cinco.
Photo by Elmer Magallanes
The boy who dreamt the ‘impalpable’ dream
PEOPLE - Joanne Rae M. Ramirez (The Philippine Star) - August 30, 2019 - 12:00am

Imagine this: a little boy from “humble beginnings” in Catbalogan, Samar, besotted with the razzmatazz of Hollywood’s leading ladies—Marlene Dietrich, Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn.

 “I was simply amazed,” Michael Cinco says, recalling the scene in the movie My Fair Lady where Audrey Hepburn as Eliza Doolittle descends the stairs in all her finery on her way to the Embassy Ball. Perhaps, in then eight-year-old Michael’s impressionable mind, the only way to make a grand entrance in this world was to wear grandeur on yourself.

And so he has, not so much on himself, but to the women he has dressed to the nines (or should I say “to the fives?”) to their own “Embassy Balls.” And weddings.

Celebrities who have worn Michael Cinco include Beyoncé, Jennifer Lopez, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Mariah Carey, Aishwarya Rai, Nick Jonas, James McAvoy, Jason Derulo, Steve Aoki, Carrie Underwood, Sofia Vergara, Mila Kunis, Kylie Minogue, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Ellie Goulding, Allison Janney, Paloma Faith, Nicole Scherzinger, Fergie Ferguson, Dita Von Teese, Brandy, Ashanti, Chris Brown, Tyra Banks and Naomi Campbell.

2015 American Music Awards host Jennifer Lopez in a crystallized Michael Cinco gown. AFP

Jennifer Lopez wore a crystallized Michael Cinco couture when she hosted American Music Awards in 2015. Sofia Vergara wore a stunning Michael Cinco gown at the Golden Globes 2013, and was voted Best Dressed by many TV shows and magazines in the US. British pop star Paloma Faith wore his couture dress at the MET Gala in New York. Michael also designed several costumes for Mila Kunis for the sci-fi blockbuster movie Jupiter Ascending. Michael is a favorite designer of Bollywood superstar Aishwarya Rai, who wore fabulous couture Cinco gowns at the Cannes Film Festival in 2017 and 2018.

In 2014, Michael was conferred the Presidential Award for Outstanding Filipinos Overseas by President Benigno Aquino III for exemplifying the talent and industry the Philippines has to offer to the world.

Cinco, in a way, is walking down the grand staircase of the world stage right now, all eyes riveted on him. He is even the subject of an upcoming exhibition, to be held at Savannah College of Art and Design’s SCAD Museum of Art in the US.

According to sources, the exhibition, which marks Cinco’s first solo museum show, will take place from Oct. 3, 2019 to Jan. 5, 2020, and will bring some of the designer’s most iconic designs from the UAE to the US.

The gallery, located in Atlanta, is giving fans a chance to get a closer look at the couturier’s intricate and elaborate work.

Victoria Swarovski fitting her Michael Cinco gown that glittered with 500,000 crystals.

Some of them (though I don’t know if they will be included in the retrospective) include the million-dollar wedding dress of heiress Victoria Swarovksi, which glittered with 500,000 crystals and weighed some 100 pounds. It also had a crystal-studded, six-meter-long, lace-edged veil to complete her princess look. According to Cinco, who has also designed the gowns of royal brides in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, the Swarovski gown, which had a glittering $1-million price tag, is his most expensive to date.

Just this year, a bride-to-be flew from Kiev to Dubai to pick a gown in Cinco’s atelier (Cinco has been based in Dubai since 2003) and chose a blush-pink strapless gown, scattered with feathers and falling into a theatrical, tiered skirt.

“It took 400 hours to finish by skilled artisans,” the designer revealed in an interview.

*   *   *

Cinco’s very first gown was especially made for his sister-in-law, “It was simple, Filipiniana.”

Cinco studied Fine Arts at the University of the Philippines Diliman for two years, eventually transferring to Slim’s Fashion and Arts School in Manila. He then took up supplementary courses at Central Saint Martins in London.

In 1997, Cinco moved to Dubai, eventually establishing his fashion line in 2003. He now employs 120 people in his atelier and workplace, all of whom he personally supervises.

“In Dubai, they are very particular about detail. So I got honed in this, in doing gowns with intricate, exquisite beading, done only by hand,” he shares. He was fortunate to have discovered a village in India where males are trained to do beadwork from the cradle and have grown up to be virtuosos with needle and thread.

Jojie Dingcong with Cinco in his workshop in Dubai. Photo by Elmer Magallanes

He considers the gown he made for Marian Rivera in 2014 his big break as far as the Philippine wedding gown scene was concerned. After all, anyone who has made it big abroad still yearns for recognition from his kababayans. Cinco was recommended to the beauteous actress by stylist Noel Manapat, and the rest is history.

Dr. Vicki Belo also looked like a princess in her blush Michael Cinco wedding gown, with a three-meter-long train of French lace and opal Swarovski crystals, when she wed Dr. Hayden Kho in Paris in 2017.

Ironically, Cinco has become instantly recognizable because of his shades—which he uses to shield his eyes from the glare of the sun and the spotlight. He first started wearing them due to his vertigo, but has grown used to wearing them.

He has a fear of flying, which is part of his work, and relaxes by “being alone at walang ginagawa (doing nothing).”

So how does the leading man of fabulous couture wedding gowns describe the “Cinco Bride?”

Cinco with Marian Rivera during her wedding in 2014.

“Feminine, elegant, sexy but not vulgar. There should still be something ethereal and innocent about a bride. She should still look like a blushing bride.”

Despite his success, Cinco is described as shy by friends and acquaintances.

Grateful for all his blessings, he tells me, “Magising ka lang sa umaga is already a blessing.”

A-list publicist Jojie Dingcong says Michael Cinco is the boy from Samar who dared to dream the “impalpable dream.”

With his wedding gowns and ball gowns the canvas for his artistry and ingenuity—works of art that you can feel and touch—Michael Cinco’s dream is impalpable no more. *

(You may e-mail me at Follow me on Instagram @joanneraeramirez.)

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