Michael Cinco dazzles with all-white show at Arab Fashion Week 2022

As the designer launches his new ready-to-wear collection, he hopes to inspire a sense of togetherness

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“I want to inspire people to make love, not war,” Michael Cinco said of his new autumn/winter 2022 collection. Unveiled at Arab Fashion Week on Friday night, Cinco presented a dazzling near all-white collection.

Speaking via Zoom ahead of the event, the designer explained how he based the collection around the disruption of the past two years. “The collection I am going to showcase is actually inspired by what’s happening in the world today. Like the old and improbable dream of peace and serenity.

“We are at war with Covid, and there is war going on in Europe, so I am passionate to create something that will have an impact on what is happening right now. I want to inspire people to make love, not war.”

Clearly Cinco is on to something with his message of peace and friendship, as it was impressive to note how many people turned out on a Friday night to watch the designer deliver his autumn/winter 2022 collection. Speaking with him only hours before the runway show, in that unique gap between the studio and the catwalk, when labels are whirring in the beautiful chaos that underpins each new collection, Cinco was both charming and relaxed. Despite having an expert team hard at work in the atelier, inevitably, things were running behind schedule. “I am still finishing the dresses,“ he said, laughing. "But hopefully I will finish them.”

Naturally, the dresses were all finished, and the ensuing collection on the catwalk offered a subtle, but significant shift in approach. Rather than focusing on the show-stopping couture gowns that forged his reputation, Cinco was instead in a more down-to-earth mood, and delivered a runway of ready-to-wear pieces.

“Most of the collection is in white and black and there will be a lot of feathers because it’s a fall/winter collection, and there are a lot of separates as well.

“The collection right now is more on a pret-a-porter line, not really the couture that I am so known for. There is less volume — I still have some, of course, because it's my signature, but this time I want to create more movement, so people can walk and feel free.”

This freedom was realised as fluid, chiffon dresses, cut to flow with every step. To highlight this breeziness, models swished and spun on the runway. There were sassy bralette tops and curve-hugging skirts, sharply cut trousers under cropped jackets for women, and oversized coats for men.

“This time it is less constrained, and more about relaxed dresses,” Cinco said.

Part of the reason for this new shift is to engage with a new audience, he explained. “I am trying to make it look young and different, but still with the Michael Cinco aesthetic. Our DNA is more in the detail, so there are a lot of embroideries, but it is less paved now, less crystals. It’s more go-with-the-flow.”

As well as a different look, the new pieces come with a very different price tag, with the new ready-to-wear a fraction of the cost of hand-made couture. “Nowadays, people don’t like to spend so much money on a certain dress, because of the economic crisis we are facing, so I want to create something more affordable, but still with the Cinco aesthetic."

Created for men and women, the obvious question was why Cinco chose to build the collection around that most bridal of colours: white? For Cinco, the choice was self-evident. “I want to promote peace. People are struggling and we are all in pain and in misery. We are all having mental health problems, and are worried with the war between Russia and Ukraine. I just want to inspire people to be calm, and to be inspired by beauty, so I chose white, because it’s about serenity.”

As a counterpoint to the calm tranquillity of the all-white collection, Cinco closed the show with three huge, dazzling gowns, in rippling streaks of green. “The last three pieces are inspired by my recent travels in Iceland,” he explained. “I have travelled to see the Northern Lights for five years now, and it gives me calmness, so much inspiration and joy every time I see it. It is a magical phenomenon and no one knows exactly how it happens or when. We know it comes from the sun, but it is like a dream, like magic.”

Although just back from Iceland, and hours ahead of a show, Cinco is clearly in no mood for sitting still, as he explains that straight after the Arab Fashion Week outing, the collection will be packed up and shipped to Los Angeles, where he is taking part in LA Fashion Week.

“I am leaving the day after tomorrow,” he said. “Now I am trying to promote my pret-a-porter line, that I am going to launch by summer this year, and also my perfume line. I am trying to do all these shows for media mileage, and be noisy on social media. Yes, I have a lot of things happening, but I work better under pressure.”

Updated: October 13, 2022, 10:54 AM