The world-famous Filipino designer shared a lengthy post on Facebook after a comment by MGmode Communications, the team behind Miss Universe Canada, came to light.
According to the comment, which was posted on Instagram and now seems to have been deleted, MGmode said the gowns for Stevens sent by Cinco's team for the Miss Universe pageant arrived late and did not properly fit her.
“We love Michael, but this was inexplicable. At the same time, they had time to custom-make a gown for another delegate … things don’t add up, sadly.” They added a similar incident had occurred last year with candidates from Argentina and Uruguay. "Such a terrible mistake."
In response, Cinco posted photos of Stevens wearing her preliminary gowns and the final dress. "Here she is smiling and happy, then all of a sudden you're spreading rumours that you didn't wear my gown [because] it's ill-fitting," his post reads.
Cinco called the Miss Canada team "ungrateful, vile and professional users".
“I don’t normally respond to unnecessary social media rants or any negative criticisms about my work but this one caught my ire as it seems to put uncalled for blame on my team the week after Miss Universe,” he wrote.
“Firstly, the gowns arrived on time. Or how could you have sent me photos and videos of her wearing them, showing how the gowns perfectly fitted her, days before each event?”
He also alleged the team were “forcing” him to make Nova’s 26-inch waist line “cinched to 23” as “in pageants, comfort doesn’t matter”, something he says he did not heed.
In a separate post, in which he shared an image of the comments by Miguel Martinez, handler of Miss Canada, Cinco wrote: "I messaged him to delete it and not to humiliate me on social media. I talked to him and almost cried and told him I deserve respect. He just told me the truth has to be revealed ... [Nova Stevens] just told me that [her team] are upset because they believed me and my team are trying to sabotage her."
Cinco alleged the Canadian team had been "using" him for the past three consecutive years to dress their candidates without paying him.
“You don’t even pay the courier or any other charges," he wrote. "Next time don’t ask me or any Filipino designers to dress up your candidates. Ask your Canadian designers to showcase their works in world stage. Stop taking advantage of my kindness and stop scamming Filipino designers."
He then recounts hiring a photographer and filmmaker to shoot Stevens in a “world-class location in Dubai”, all of which he says he paid for.
Stevens, who made her Instagram private on Sunday, has since responded to the controversy. "This really hurts me because I have nothing but love for both parties," she said in a video posted on social media.
"The fact that I was able to work with you (Michael Cinco) is a highlight of my career as Miss Universe Canada. That gratitude will never diminish, and I've expressed that gratitude publicly and privately," she said. "It boggles my mind that my gratitude would even be in question.
"I want you to stop fighting, I want this to be taken privately. I don't think you are both deserving of this. It's not fair to all of your hard work. I don't want to question any of your integrities because I stand behind the three of you," she says, referring to Cinco, Martinez and Denis Martin Davila, who is also part of her team.
The National has reached out to Cinco for comment.
The designer has previously spoken to The National about meeting Stevens in Dubai in April to work on her dress for the night.
“She is such an inspiring woman, and her journey as a refugee from Sudan to winning the Miss Canada crown is nothing short of amazing. So we created a dress to celebrate that,” he said. “It’s our message of strength and hope.”
Fellow Filipino fashion designer Rian Fernandez has also spoken out about having a similar experience with the Miss Universe Canada Organisation.
In a post on social media, Fernandez said he made five gowns for candidate Marta Magdalena Stepien for the preliminaries in 2018 that were not worn, nor returned.
“Let this be a lesson to all of us Filipino designers. Never shall we be scammed again by this MUC organisation," Fernandez wrote on Facebook.
"To you Denis and your team, please have some gratitude and a little sense of professionalism when dealing with people who want to help your queen. Please have a little shame. May this be the end of your swindler personality.”