Michael Cinco, the first Filipino fashion designer featured in Paris Fashion Week (PFW), was back with a Spring/Summer 2022 haute couture collection centered on metamorphosis.
“We celebrate new beginnings. And in rebirth, nothing is more exalting than the metamorphosis of a butterfly,” Cinco told Lifestyle in an email interview.
“From the ordinary caterpillar to the exquisite winged creature of ephemeral beauty, it has become the metaphor for hope and change. It is an emblem of the soul, an allegory for reawakening and triumph of spirit. This collection is an illumination of all that and more.”
Cinco’s collection “Impalpable Dream of a New Beginning,” featuring his signature opulent ball gowns and crystal-encrusted menswear, was showcased Oct. 2 in a church, the American Cathedral in Paris, with opera music in the background. The nave of the Gothic cathedral served as the runway.
“I always dreamed of having a show in a cathedral and when the producers showed me the venue last summer, I fell in love with it,” Cinco said.
The Dubai-based designer was recommended to a PFW producer by his friends, Filipino designer and consultant Chona Bacaoco and composer Andréas Volkmar of MM Milano, a fashion agency with offices in Milan and Frankfurt.
Cinco grew up in Catbalogan, Samar, and studied fashion at Slim’s Fashion and Arts School and Central Saint Martins in London. In 2003, he founded his couture brand in Dubai that caters to the elite set looking for regal gowns.
Cinco’s dreamy pieces debuted in the prestigious Haute Couture Week of PWF 2016, the main schedule of which is reserved only for couture houses like Christian Dior and Chanel. “My first show in Paris was inspired by the flowers in Jardin des Tuileries. The only similarity with the 2022 collection is the use of our butterfly sleeves, which I would like to showcase to the world—it’s very Filipino.”
The butterfly theme was also shown as elegant wing patterns done with metallic accents and iridescent appliqués on the jewel-tone gowns. The 30-piece collection of mostly fully beaded gowns sparkled with crystals sponsored by Swarovski Middle East.
“I used a lot of tulle and lace with embroidery to show that designers are still creative in these difficult times,” Cinco said. “It’s a great feeling, being out there and inspired again during this pandemic.”
The collection featured a gold and green sheer gown layered with a bishop-sleeve lilac silk robe. Some gowns had feathers and voluminous rose sleeves, while others had gem-like colored stones and beaded fringe—all handmade, of course.
Two frothy tulle gowns would look great on younger women: an off-shoulder sky-blue mullet and a two-piece bright orchid gown with a cropped bustier top and a high-low skirt (that can be restyled and worn again as separates). Select gowns had practical pockets—a convenient way of carrying a phone and staying online while glammed up at a party.
“The silhouette is an adulation of the butterfly’s breathtakingly fragile progression,” the show notes read. “It is as complex as its chrysalis and yet transparent as its open wings.”
The finale piece, Cinco’s favorite, was a hand-embroidered wedding gown which took 3,000 hours and 20 artisans to finish.
For men, he created whimsical suits done in gradient teal and purple for “masked balls and special events.” He also showed how to do gray-on-gray menswear with ankle-grazing pants and casual white sneakers.
“My business was heavily affected by the pandemic because it relies heavily on spending,” Cinco said. “But as the government lifted the COVID restrictions last year, business went back to normal. It’s not the same as before, but we are definitely surviving.”
In Hollywood, Cinco’s works have been worn by the likes of Beyoncé, Jennifer Lopez, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Mariah Carey, models Tyra Banks and Naomi Campbell, and recently by rapper Lil Nas X.
In the Philippines, his celebrity clients include Pia Wurtzbach, Marian Rivera, Kathryn Bernardo, Liza Soberano, Maine Mendoza and Dr. Vicki Belo.