behind the stars

"It's late in the evening; she's wond'ring what clothes to wear." This line from the famous Eric Clapton song begs a glamourous and timely response. Perhaps J-Lo, Rihanna or Lady Gaga would have sung it audaciously with an unwavering answer, "I look 'Wonderful Tonight,'" posing in front of a full-body mirror flaunting a Michael Cinco ethereal masterpiece.

Michael Cinco probably heard such compliments, sans the melody, in an array of fashion (no pun intended). But Dubai-based international designer M5 keeps himself grounded amidst the glitz and glamour with the fleeting emotions that come along with being recognized as one of the creme de la cremes of the fashion industry. Ponders as he shares his dreams, aspirations and life lessons to musivv, MC looks back as he looks to the future.

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behind the stars | michael cinco : stop. look. glisten117

behind the stars

who is
michael cinco?

  • michael-cinco
  • michael-cinco
  • michael-cinco

I grew up in a very small town surrounded by seas and mountains. People in my town Catbalogan, Samar didn't have fashion sense in everyday life. They only dressed up during weddings, Sunday masses, and special occasions. But I grew up with a lush surrounding where my imagination would run in wild abandon. Every time I attended an event in our town, I always stood by the door and created scenes in my mind, imagined guests arriving fully made-up in their ball gowns and expensive jewelry.

When I was a kid I loved watching classic Hollywood films in black and white. I was so fascinated with the costumes worn by great Hollywood icons like Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Bette Davis, and Joan Crawford. The first movie that I fell in love with was 'My Fair Lady' by Audrey Hepburn. That was the moment that I knew I'd be a fashion designer.

behind the stars | michael cinco : stop. look. glisten118
behind the stars | michael cinco : stop. look. glisten119

what were the challenges you faced starting your own studio/couture and how did you overcome them?

Fashion is creativity, innovation, style and having fun while at it. It makes my world go round. From finding my own unique voice or the right fabrics for my collection to securing investors or establishing a strong PR strategy. I guess that's the biggest challenge for every designer in the fashion industry.

Prayer works. I always pray to God that whenever I need strength facing these challenges.

behind the stars | michael cinco : stop. look. glisten120

behind the stars

among other design capitals of the world, why dubai?

Dubai is a very young and dynamic city and I believe it will be the next fashion destination in the world. Arab women have a deep pocket to spend on a very expensive couture outfit. I think it's one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life when I decided to settle my business in Dubai.

behind the stars | michael cinco : stop. look. glisten121

I [guess] I know how to fulfill every woman's world of fairytale inside her

behind the stars | michael cinco : stop. look. glisten122

how do you stay grounded considering you have made a name for yourself?

GOD has inspired me. HE is always seeking to implant seeds of inspiration to change the lives of others. My mother who's always been my biggest inspiration taught me the greatest value in life - to be HUMBLE. Her humble beginnings inspired me to strive and work hard to reach my dreams. She taught me how to survive and fight on any battles I may face and she always advised me to never give up on my dreams. When you put GOD in your heart and soul, you stay grounded.

behind the stars | michael cinco : stop. look. glisten123

your work is now showcased at the savannah college of art and design's museum of art in atlanta, ga, usa. tell us how did that happen? how does it feel like?

I was recommended by my FB friend Jeffrey Fellner to Mr. Rafael Gomes, director of fashion exhibition in SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film. Dressing up A-list Hollywood celebrities on the red carpet has always been my biggest dream in life.


I was in awe and cried when I saw the exhibition of Dior in Paris

who was the first celebrity singer you designed for? how and when did it happen? take us through the experience.

Lady Gaga was the first-ever A-List celebrity to wear my gown in 2013. I was contacted by my PR agent in LA and asked for a custom-made couture piece for Lady Gaga.

behind the stars | michael cinco : stop. look. glisten124
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behind the stars | michael cinco : stop. look. glisten125

you designed for famous singers including emirati singer balqees fathi. do you ever get used to it or is it a surreal experience every time?

I [guess] I know how to fulfill every woman's world of fairytale inside her heart and emotions through my designs. Women want something timeless, feminine, positively glamorous and very classic. In their memorable moments, I am humbled to be part of it. Every time I design something for a celebrity, I still have goosebumps and surreal moments. I guess that's the 'Impalpable Dream.'

if you were to pick one, which one is your favorite creation?

Jennifer Lopez's 20-feet long, hand-painted cape inspired by the stained-glass windows of Sainte-Chapelle Church in Paris. I was in tears when I saw the church for the first time. The beautiful stained glass windows inspired me to create the cape. It took me 2,000 hours to finish the creation.

behind the stars | michael cinco : stop. look. glisten126

Known for his voluminous ball gowns and detailed crystallized gowns. Michael thinks the greatest achievement of a fashion designer is when people recognize the style. "When I hear someone say "I love that dress, that's very Michael Cinco." Even as this stage of his career, he still dreams big: to see Angelina Jolie and Cate Blanchett wear his creations in an Oscar night or design the costumes of an opera play or ballet.

I'm always inspired when I listen to Maria Callas songs.

A French and Thai food lover, Michael's biggest lesson learned in life is to "always believe in yourself and have big faith and confidence in GOD." "Don't set any limitations in yourself. Believe that anything in this world is possible. Dream the 'impalpable dream,'" he adds.


lastly, what can you advise young designers?

Young designers of today should realize that fashion is not all about glamour. Fashion can be a very cruel and challenging world with all the rejections, criticism and failure. They just have to follow their instincts and be true to their design aesthetics. Never stop learning and nurturing their creativity. I always advise designers to be humble and have a kind heart. And always thank GOD for all the blessings.

Cinco's opulent lifestyle rooted in humble beginnings is an ensemble of life-changing inspirations anyone can draw from. A star behind the stars, his name will continue to sparkle in the shimmering world of fashion and beyond.

Follow Michael Cinco at

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