Exclusive: Filipino designer Michael Cinco talks about dressing Mariah Carey for Dubai Jazz Festival visit
It’s a busy month for Dubai-based couturier Michael Cinco. Not only has he sent a collection of his gowns to Los Angeles for selection by stylists dressing the stars at the Oscars on Sunday, he’s also kitting-out Mariah Carey while she’s in the UAE.
The Filipino designer reveals exclusively to The National how his collaboration with the songbird came about ahead of her performance at the Dubai Jazz Festival on Thursday, February 23.
You were summoned to meet Mariah on the day she arrived in Dubai. How did that come about?
I had a fitting with her very late on Monday night, it was around midnight. She had arrived in Dubai around 8pm I believe. She rested and relaxed for a bit and then we did her fitting shortly after I arrived at around 11.30pm.
She had asked me beforehand – before she arrived in the UAE - to make a dress for her. I sketched the design, sent it to her and she loved it. She loved it so much that she asked me to make two more versions. One of them is for a royal dinner she will attend while she’s here and one for another event connected to the concert I think.
Are you able to reveal any details about the dresses?
Well, they are very Mariah, I would say. They both have open necklines and are very va-va-voom.
The one she’ll meet the royals in is black and another one is silver and gold – they are typical Mariah. All glittering, all crystals.
I actually made some designs which were very conservative, because this is Dubai. But she asked me to open them up and add a thigh-high split. The pieces look very nice on her and anyway she’s aware of how things are in Dubai because she’s performed here before.
How much notice did you receive to put the hand-finished gowns together? Explain the creative process.
I would say, yes, it was enough notice. They asked me around two weeks ago and I sent the sketches straight away for her approval. I know her stylist as I’ve dressed her before for some of her concerts. So they just contacted me from the States and told me she was coming here to perform for the Jazz Festival and asked me to make some clothes her. It was just like that really.
You’re notoriously modest about your talent and don’t usually like to meet your famous clients, why?
Well yes, this is actually the first time I’ve ever met a celebrity I’ve dressed. I never meet any of them. Even before when Kylie Minogue was in the UAE and I dressed her, I didn’t go to her hotel for the fitting. I asked my assistants to go instead. But this time I was told that I had to be there. Mariah had requested me. Normally I’m too shy and don’t like to go along to these meetings. But I was told it wouldn’t be polite not to attend and Mariah wouldn’t feel special if the designer wasn’t there for the fitting.
Did she live up to her ‘diva’ reputation?
No, no. There was no diva attitude at all. She was actually very kind and very nice to me. She offered me water, chocolates and many things before we even started the fitting. She was talking to me and treating me as if I was her guest.
Are the dresses being bought, gifted or loaned to Mariah?
Most of the dresses I’ve ever given to her – including ones from last year – she has returned. It’s just an arrangement we have that I’ll make the gowns for her and then she’ll give them back. Once we receive them back, they’ll be archived. Clients, though, often really want to buy them. They’ve gone crazy for gowns worn by Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez and former Miss Universe Wurtzbach that I’ve made. It’s not always easy and sometimes I have no choice but to let them have them and make new versions for the archive.
• For more information go to www.michaelcinco.com