Dubai-based Filipino designer Michael Cinco, who dressed up top Cambodian actress Yubin Shin in an electric blue gown with thousands of laser-cut flower detailing at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, claims his war cry for this prestigious film and fashion showcase is simple: “Go big or go home.”
And he has followed this fashion philosophy religiously every year when he sends a large shipment of gowns so that celebrities attending the festival from around the globe can live their fantasy red carpet moment.
“In my experience of dressing up stars from around the globe at Cannes, the actors and their stylists seek out huge, humongous gowns with long trains ... Think big and dramatic,” said Cinco in an exclusive interview with Gulf News over the phone.
“After all, it’s often their dream to walk the famous red carpet and make a bold fashion statement,” said Cinco with a laugh.
Case in point: the tulle and organza flower-studded royal blue gown with halter neck worn by Shin took over a month to execute and assemble, showcasing Cinco’s attention to detail and craftsmanship. The actress was spotted at the red carpet premiere of 'Firebrand', a film in the Cannes competition section.
For this year’s Cannes Film Festival, he also designed a yellow gown for Bollywood actress Aditi Rao Hydari. She’s yet to walk the red carpet.
“Her stylist from India was in touch with our team and we created a custom-made skirt in her favourite colour, yellow, along with an elaborate top. She’s likely to wear it on May 24 and I can’t wait to see her in them,” said Cinco.
Apparently, designers have little control over the gowns that stars ultimately choose and like fans, they too wait to see if their creations make the cut.
“It’s nerve wracking, but also exciting to see stars choose my designs for their big day out at Cannes … Stars and stylists, these days, are clued in about fashion because of the mushrooming of social media and so being plucked from a variety of choices is a big deal,” said Cinco.
The Dubai connect:
This Filipino talent, who moved to Dubai in 1997 and runs his own eponymous atelier, has become a favourite among Hollywood, Bollywood and Asian royalty. Hollywood pop idols such as Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Mariah Carey, and Jennifer Lopez have all chosen Cinco’s creations for their public appearances in the past. Bollywood A-lister Salman Khan also wore his jacket for one of his hit films, shot in Dubai.
However, Cinco attributes his soaring popularity on the Cannes fashion circuit to Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, former Miss World and one of India’s biggest cultural exports.
It was in 2017 when she wore his princess-style powder blue gown, followed by his Swarovski-encrusted mermaid-style butterfly gown (above), that his designs gained global recognition.
“My journey in Cannes truly started when Aishwarya Rai wore that blue gown, and the look immediately went viral and garnered global attention ... Her choice of my creation inspired many other stars from Singapore, China, Italy, and beyond to patronise my designs. I feel truly blessed, but creating designs for the Cannes Film Festival is a highly stressful endeavour,” expressed Cinco.
But the rewards of having celebrities handpick his creations outweigh the challenges.
“Cannes is not just about showcasing excellent movies; it is also an opportunity for some excellent brand building,” points out Cinco.
Every year at Cannes, he sets up a suite in the hotel where celebrities stay, transforming it into his makeshift atelier. Stars and their stylists frequently visit his gown-filled exhibit to select his designs. The competition among designers for exposure is intense, with everyone vying for space and recognition at the festival.
“My Dubai-based brand is up against fashion houses like Dolce & Gabanna and Middle Eastern designers. So each time a star chooses us, it feels like a true validation of my talents. Stars and their stylist have a crazy amount of choice, so it’s truly heartening when you see a known face from any part of the world choose us,” said Cinco.
The designer, who is now on the speed dial of Hollywood and Bollywood stars, believes his journey truly began in Dubai.
“Dubai is the city of dreams and opportunities. My dreams of creating beautiful and dramatic gowns found its feet in the UAE. I came to Dubai around 26 years ago when it was a beautiful desert, but the landscape has changed. Just like how this city has grown from strength to strength, my designs are also here to stay. My journey from Dubai to Cannes is truly spectacular.”