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Michael Cinco shares his experience with Tyra Banks, André Leon Talley, and America’s Next Top Model

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Recently billed as one of the hottest personalities in Dubai, the international haute couturier Michael Cinco is not going off the charts. In fact, he is just sizzling with awesomeness at this moment.

Come Wednesday, Dubai will have its eyes glued to the boob tube to watch the fashion genius as he dresses up Tyra Banks’ supermodel-wannabes in the current season of America’s Next Top Model (ANTM).

How did his journey to global stardom begin? Well, it actually took one Michael to discover Michael. As El Cinco told La Moda, “It was Michael Carandang, a Filipino producer from ANTM, who phoned me and asked me if I’d be interested to participate in this cycle. He asked me to submit sketches through my website for Tyra’s review and approval.”

Apparently, the Emmy-award winning producer has a friend who was besotted by Michael’s collection at last year’s Philippine Fashion Week.

“I think Tyra liked my creations,” Michael humbly quipped. Because right after the fierce supermodel-turned-host saw his works, he got another call, and was asked to do couture dresses using eco-friendly materials that would be used in a high fashion photo-shoot by the Nigel Barker. And the rest, as they say, is history.

While we await this Wednesday for the show’s next episode and witness this historic event for Dubai’s fashion industry to unfold right before our very eyes, just read on as Michael recounted to us his fantastic experience working with ANTM.

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What was you initial reaction when they phoned you?

In my profession, I always see amazing and beautiful things around. There are times that nothing fascinates me anymore – as if everything is normal, ordinary. But when they called me, I felt so ecstatic. The moment was surreal that it felt far from being ‘normal’.

How do you think your participation in ANTM can help you as an international fashion designer?

To be in one of the most watched reality shows in the world is a rare opportunity. I am very thankful to the people who gave me the chance to be part of this show. This international exposure will definitely help my career move to another level. But, I am what I am – I will keep on dreaming with my impalpable dreams.

What were the collections used for the show? Did you create a special collection for them?

I was introduced in the show as the couture designer for the shoot of the remaining 6 finalists. The theme of the photo-shoot was eco-couture using recycled materials. So, I designed couture dresses using safety pins, rubber bands, broken mirrors, cellophane, garbage bags and old parachutes.

With these materials, I then made wearable couture pieces of which some were based from, according to the producers, the references that Tyra liked. After I created the designs, I sent them in, and luckily Tyra liked them all.

Tyra wanted me to create huge and voluminous dresses to overpower the massive landfill. She even gave me creative freedom to do the collection as long it would abide by the theme. Also, Nigel preferred a high fashion shoot with big hair and fierce make-up.

I then flew to LA last November for the shoot that was done in the middle of massive landfill. I’d say that we achieved the look – in some of the shots, there was one dress that looked like a melting metal, and there was another one that looked like cellophane splashed with oil.

What are your special memories from the show?

It’s not my first time to work with international models. I even worked with Naomi Campbell before. But, Tyra Banks is super down-to-earth – she’s a doll. I remember the first things she told me were “So, you’re the first Filipino designer on the show” and “Did you bring all the bling from Dubai?” She was hilarious, and she loved the collection I made; no doubt she always will be one of my personal favourite supermodels.

I also couldn’t forget that US Vogue’s Andre Leon Talley (who was one of the judges in that episode) raved about the clothes I did for the shoot. He even exclaimed upon seeing one of the dresses, and told that even if it was made from recycled materials it would still be red-carpet glamour for any famous Hollywood celebrity.

Nigel Barker and Jay Manuel, who were very nice and accommodating people, were so impressed from the pictures that came out from the shoot. I think everyone loved it.

Everybody – from the crew to the aspiring models were all professionals. The very fact that we did the shoot in a smelly and gross landfill, I’d never heard anyone complained from the staying in that location. The models were all professional and very high-fashion.

What other global projects can we expect from you? What are your plans here in Dubai/Middle East?

I’ll let you know after my episode in America’s Next Top Model Cycle 16 (laughs).

Last question. What are your fashion must-haves?

Aside from a fierce attitude and an Hermes bag, women must have fabulous shoes and a Chanel jacket.