Filipino designers in the UAE, from Michael Cinco to Fern Wen

The United Arab Emirates is home to a group of Filipino designers who are known for wearing bold, embellished dresses on red carpets across the world.

Names like Michael Cinco, Fern One, and Ezra Santos have an international reputation for their dazzling dresses that are imaginatively proportioned, embellished with beading and crystals and fit any princess.

over here, the National It reveals the history of this thriving group of Emirati fashion makers who have taken the fashion world by storm.

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan wears Michael Cinco on the red carpet at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival. Getty Images

Born in Samar Province, Philippines, Michael Cinco has resided in the UAE since 1997, launching his eponymous brand in 2003.

Inspired by the golden age of cinema and its glamorous stars, Cinco has built a reputation for creating romantic evening gowns and wedding gowns, all skirted and covered in intricate embroidery. In 2012, this extended to menswear couture.

Today, his fan list is of Celebrity Kings with Mariah Carey, Jennifer Lopez, Lady Gaga, Sofia Vergara and Rihanna; Jason Derulo, Nick Jonas, and James McAvoy are also known to wear his pieces.

In 2016, Cinco made history when he became the first Filipino designer to be invited to Haute Couture Week in Paris; In 2017, he was behind one of the most memorable red carpet moments at the Cannes Film Festival, where Aishwarya Rai Bachchan wore a light blue Cinderella gown.

The brand is now expanding into ready-to-wear, which was revealed at this year’s Arab Fashion Week.

Four One, Amato Couture

Amato Luxe will open soon in Dubai Design District (D3).  Courtesy of Amato *** Local Caption *** AL13 Adu Amato.jpg

Designer Forni One (born Fernando Barrios) was supposed to pass through Dubai on his way to the Philippines, when a serendipitous encounter with textile buyer, Rashid Ali, changed everything.

With a shared vision, the couple launched couture label Amato in 2002; The name translates to “beloved” in Italian.

With One at the creative lead, Amato quickly earned a name for one-of-a-kind dresses in rich Gothic style. The pieces were skillfully disassembled, with the braces intentionally left exposed, then covered with lavish handwork.

The pieces have attracted significant attention. When crystal maker Swarovski decided to create its own limited-edition book, single Amato was invited to take a look at her.

Tara Banks, Beyoncé, Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj and Jennifer Lopez wore the designs. Amato has also dressed up Germany’s next top model She has hosted Heidi Klum as well as contestants since 2010.

In 2012, the label opened a store in Los Angeles, and in 2014, it debuted at New York Fashion Week.

Amato Luxe, a ready-to-wear boutique in Dubai Design District, opened in 2017; She is now venturing into the metaverse with her fully digital gowns.

Ezra Santos, Ezra Couture

Ezra Santos arrived in Dubai in 1993. Originally from Manila, Santos studied at Central Saint Martins, London, and learned his craft design for the Dubai brand House of Arushi for ten years.

He went on to open his own brand Ezra Couture in 2004 and made his first show in 2010.

The 2019 Fashion Forward event, titled Look Though Love’s Eyes, was so elaborately hand-embroidered that it took six months to create 30 looks.

Focusing on women’s wedding dresses and evening wear, Santos has worn the likes of Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, Nicole Scherzinger and Priyanka Chopra Jonas.

In 2014, he created a Colbie Caillat gown for the 2014 Grammy Awards and cut for Rihanna and Shakira to sport in I can’t remember to forget you Picture song.

Jaremon Roviros

From Davao City, Garimon Roferos won the prestigious Concours Internationale des Jeunes Creaturs de Mode D’Incitation in Paris in 2004, before moving to Dubai in 2010 to work under Michael Cinco.

In 2016, he founded his own fashion house, specializing in lavish beading and embroidery wedding dresses in white on white.

In addition, he also makes evening and party dresses, often in patterns and almost always feminine full skirts. He also has a collection of high-end abayas.

Roferos wore Gwen Stefani’s beaded mini dress.

Harvey Sennett, Elegant Bride

As the Creative Director of The Chic Bride in Dubai, Harvey Sennett has created lavish wedding dresses in the UAE since 2012.

Cenit blends his own style with the refined flair of the region’s brides, able to seamlessly transition between the two, extracting the best of both.

Ignacio Loyola, Atelier Ignacio

After studying at Istituto Marangoni in Milan and obtaining a Runway Art in Dubai in 2009, Ignacio Loyola established his own home, Atelier Ignacio which is now located in the Dubai Design District.

So experimental, Loyola has created collections made of rubber bands and paper, and today she has a showroom filled with crystal-embellished daywear.

During the pandemic, Loyola focused on making face masks and now offers a collection, including one design covered in rainbow gems.

Updated: June 06 2022, 4:11 am