Drawing inspiration from Greece, from its ancient columns to its dramatic sunsets, Dubai-based Filipino designer Michael Cinco showed a glittery 40-piece collection that also paid homage to the female form.
This year’s featured talent in the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) fashion gala held Sunday night at Shangri-La Makati’s Rizal Ballroom, Cinco produced seven short dresses, 30 long ones, and three wedding gowns that proved his expertise in beadwork, embroidery and fabric manipulation.
He used ample tulle and chiffon and a bit of lace and organza, which he embellished with Swarovski crystals and sequins, laser-cut ceramics, and tone-on-tone embroidery.
Known for his liberal use of shiny embellishments, Cinco wisely toned down the bling this time to produce seamless bead- and threadwork that appeared like prints from afar, while emphasizing and flattering the woman’s body.
He achieved this partly by mixing neutral-colored sequins with colored ones. Apart from toning down the color, the technique lent depth and contrast on the skirts and bodices.
“The long dresses looked like they were made of complicated prints, but they’re really made from minute and intricate beadwork and embroidery. The short dresses were embellished with laser-cut ceramics inspired by Greek columns and architecture,” he said.
His color story was truly inspired—starting with white, gradually progressing to bolder colors like canary yellow, orange, red, brown, and then back to white.
Rather than limit himself, his decision to stick to an almost uniform fishtail silhouette showed his range as designer, with a few columns and layered and flowing A-line pieces breaking the monotony.
He also had various permutations of a particular look and silhouette by mixing various techniques like embroidery, beadwork and draping.
“I wanted to give women options for red-carpet events and special occasions,” he said. “That’s why I chose to do more wearable pieces. I used to show fantasy and over-the-top dresses, but this time I wanted to give them clothes they could actually appreciate and wear.”
Cinco was supposed to show a few men’s suits, but he dropped the idea. Instead, he had nearly naked and muscular male models do the runway.
“They’re my idea of Greek gods,” said Cinco, who wore his trademark shades even while backstage. “I’m reserving my menswear for a future show.”
Now on its fourth year, the annual charity event is chaired by Inquirer Lifestyle’s Tessa Prieto-Valdes and Kaye Tinga to raise funds for the benefit of PNRC Rizal Chapter and the Assumption Class of ’81 Foundation. This year, the two have added flood victims in Central Luzon among their beneficiaries.
Like last year, the show was directed by Ariel Lozada, with Noel Manapat doing the styling, Patrick Rosas and his team the models’ hair and makeup.
We also love Cinco’s deft ability to mix soft and hard elements in the form of flowing fabrics and body armor in one look. This was evident in his floor-sweeping opener worn by Ria Bolivar and in a Madame Grés-meets-Jason and the Argonauts number modeled by Melissa Frye.
His short dresses, although also inspired by Greek’s rich history, have a modern, sculptural feel a la present-day Balenciaga. He limited himself to white, and explored texture by combining fabrics, embellishments, and treatments.
Cinco’s sculptural mini dresses were a perfect foil to his soft, sinuous long numbers. It was just as well that he decided to limit them to white. An excess of detail on rather short dresses would have probably looked a tad too tacky if done in bold shades.
But more isn’t necessarily more. Cinco’s most elaborate and painstakingly produced segment of three tiered and layered wedding gowns also proved to be his weakest. Although the dramatic pieces were scene-stealers, we heard a few comments that they looked like cake toppers come to life.
Not only did the gowns look rather heavy, they also sounded heavy as all three models left a rustling sound in their wake as they marched down the runway. We could just imagine the priest in an actual wedding shushing guests until he realizes where all that racket was coming from.
Cinco’s decision to cast the beautiful Georgina Wilson as one of his models was also ill-advised. Not even her pretty face, splashed on a giant screen onstage shown in various expressions and moods, could hide her pained discomfort while modeling the wedding dress. Was she afraid she’d keel over from all that weight?
Again, just like last year, veteran model Marina Benipayo capped the night by doing the finale in the evening’s most voluminous and perhaps noisiest number. She more than made up for Wilson’s worried and worrying performance with her trademark panache.
But how long can she continue doing it? In fact, making Bolivar and Benipayo open and close the show year in and year out has become too predictable. Thank goodness Cinco had a few surprises up his sleeves.