Michael Cinco brings Ancient Egypt to the runway at Arab Fashion Week

Golden handiwork and sharp tailoring — the Filipino designer remains at the top of his game

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Filipino designer Michael Cinco knows how to put on a good show. And, for the spring/summer 2023 show at Arab Fashion Week at Dubai Design District on Thursday night, he brought the mysticism of Ancient Egypt to the UAE.

Against a backdrop of swirling images of ankhs, statuary and ancient tombs, Cinco sent out a tranche of golden looks, lavished with intricate decoration. The first was a sweeping men's kaftan, light and flowing and covered with art deco-style geometry, followed by another men's look of a boxy top covered in rich linear patterning. Additionally, blouson jacket and sharp-shouldered suits were displayed for men.

Scroll through the gallery above for more pictures from Michael Cinco's show

The womenswear was equally decadent, shaped into geometry that echoed the opulence of The Great Gatsby. The gold continued with a spectacular fitted, sheer gown with floor-length sleeves, traced with golden lines.

Next came masculine tailoring, as dazzling men's suits positively dripping with shimmer, and as roomy women's jackets with oversized drop shoulders, and storm collars. Best of all was a look of sharp-cut trousers and a full ruffled tulle jacket teamed with a golden breastplate that oozed attitude, while Cinco's customary gowns were given a new twist under silken overcoats.

In a show of cutting skill, many gowns arrived almost completely backless, such as one matched with great puffs of tulle on the shoulder, while for men, Cinco flexed his sartorial muscles with loose-cut duster coats, and even as a gorgeous drop shoulder cape in old gold worn over upscaled denim cut trousers.

As a clever interlude, one model stepped onto the runway and began reworking her dress, first as a head scarf, now tied on one shoulder, then into a loose bolero, in a clever move aimed at clients looking for versatility, before the show shifted into its second half, with the colour palette now in blue and silver.

After the long shift dresses, with open backs and faux cropped detailing (cleverly hidden with pale-coloured body panels — this man knows his market), occasion wear followed.

There were great sweeps of tulle pleated into blooms and stitched across a neckline, or blue feathers made into a full, flowing train.

There were long beaded opera gloves and a gold lame mini dress with a frilled train that was worthy of famed nightclub Studio 54. Best of all was the way lightness was handled with such decadence, such as a huge crinoline skirt with caged bustier, and the beadwork Cinco is famous for.

For the finale, Queen Nefertiti herself was resurrected, in a robe with a three-metre train covered in so many beads it was mesmerising to behold, which showed why Cinco is such a force to be reckoned with.

Updated: October 14, 2022, 9:03 AM
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