The UAE is home to a group of Filipino designers who are known for dressing listeners in bold and ornate gowns on red carpets across the world.
Names like Michael Cinco, Fern One, and Ezra Santos have an international reputation for their dazzling dresses with imaginative proportions, beading and crystals to match 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.
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 dresses and wedding gowns, all-lined 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 also wore 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 moments on the red carpet 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
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 helm of creativity, 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 high-profile attention. When crystal maker Swarovski released a 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. As Amato put on his clothes 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 Lux, 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 to design his craft for the Dubai brand House of Arushi for a decade.
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 I look though the eyes of love, was elaborately hand-embroidered, and 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.
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 and white.
In addition, he makes evening and party dresses, often in patterns and always full of liveliness and femininity. 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. Think a matching emerald green dress with a giant bow at the neck, which also serves as a partial sleeve, and a crisp white embroidered dress that comes with a mini crinoline mini skirt.
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, 5:30 AM