By Arwa Lodi
With all its glitz, glamor and many galas, Dubai is far from being well-known for its plethora of eco-couture designers, but it has to be said that some of the most innovative couture creations have been crafted by an incredible talent based in the region: Michael Cinco.
The flamboyant Filipino designer, whose atelier has been in Dubai for years, was hand picked by Tyra Banks to construct gowns out of recycled materials for Cycle 16 of America’s Next Top Model; a cycle that was dedicated to the environment.
He used what rubbish he was given – namely rubber bands, smashed mirrors, bin bags, discarded parachutes and broken glass – to produce haute couture that was shot by Nigel Barker in a rather unusual, but fitting location: a landfill site in Greece.
Whilst the model contestants (quite rightly!) complained about the smell of the dump, the final results impressed not only the ANTM crew, but even Cinco himself: “After that shoot, I found out that I could use things that we usually throw out as beautiful ornaments on couture dresses that look like expensive gemstones,” he proudly stated.
His triumph in Cycle 16 led Tyra to ask him back for another cycle, which shot in Greece. A proud Filipino, Cinco was delighted that a clothing brand from his homeland, Bench, and Filipina/British model Georgina Wilson were also involved in that cycle: “I was so happy when I learned that other Filipinos were in Greece for the shoot. The ANTM staff was in awe of Georgina Wilson’s beauty… It made me so proud to be a Filipino,” he said.
Considering the high levels of poverty in the Philippines, we hope that Cinco has inspired his countrymen to know that clothing needn’t be new or expensive to be gorgeously fashionable; recycling clothing is a real possibility, as is creating clothing from unusual or discarded materials. It’s a message that the richer natives of his current city, Dubai, should also heed.
Moreover, given the fact that Dubai will soon have a ‘city’ within itself that’s dedicated to nothing but Fashion, eco-couture should most certainly have a place in that new development. Goodness knows Cinco has demonstrated they have the talent there to make it succeed.
All images: ANTM