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Michael Cinco designs for 69th Miss Universe pageant

It’s about creating that ‘wow’ factor

Klára Vavrušková, Miss Czech Republic 2020 in Michael Cinco during the Miss Universe Preliminary Competition at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida on May 14, 2021. Photo by Alicia Afshar/Miss Universe Organization

Dubai-based Filipino designer Michael Cinco is definitely no stranger to beauty pageants, especially when it comes to Miss Universe. Having dressed Miss Universe winners like Pia Wurtzbach and Iris Mittenaere for their final walks, Cinco also has done the wardrobe of delegates to the 69-year-old pageant in recent years.
The 69th edition is no different. As the Miss Universe preliminaries ended, there were two countries who wore Cinco for their competition gowns: Miss Czech Republic and Miss Romania. A third delegate, Miss Canada Nova Stevens, will wear Cinco for the finals on Monday, May 17, 2021.

Miss Czech Republic Klára Vavrušková Photo by Benjamin Askinas/Miss Universe Organization

Miss Czech Republic Klára Vavrušková’s gown is butterfly-inspired with ruffled details on the shoulders to represent a cocoon. It’s from Cinco’s 2021 Spring-Summer Collection that’s replete with butterfly embroideries of crystals, French sequins and pearls.

Miss Romania Bianca Lorena Tirsin Photo by Benjamin Askinas/Miss Universe Organization

Miss Romania Bianca Lorena Tirsin’s formal wear is also butterfly-inspired. A body-hugging silhouette from Cinco’s 2021 Spring-Summer collection as well, it has intricate embroideries done with French sequins and Swarovski crystals.

He never got to meet the two delegates due to the pandemic so they had to settle for virtual meetings and video calls. “One also has to consider the aura and personality of the candidate. And sometimes it’s hard to design a gown when you don’t meet the candidate and they will just send you measurements and with no fitting,” Cinco said. “So it’s all about luck and a lot of prayers to fit the dress perfectly on them.” Luckily the dresses did fit them perfectly.

“When designing a gown for a pageant you need to create a couture creation that will have a stage impact and has ‘wow’ factor,” Cinco added. “It has to have an exquisite detail or cut that will enhance the body, aura and the beauty of the candidate wearing your couture creation.”

“It has to have an exquisite detail or cut that will enhance the body, aura and the beauty of the candidate wearing your couture creation.” Photo by Benjamin Askinas/Miss Universe Organization

One must also consider the fabric and weight of the dress so the candidate can walk comfortably and gracefully, Cinco explained. In a chat with Paris-based Filipino student designer Jude Macasinag noted how Cinco is really good in stage pageant wear.

While Cinco admits that the candidate’s dress will come under great scrutiny, even criticism, by people, “it’s only a one-shot opportunity so you better give your best work and deliver.”

Cinco added that designing formal wear for clients is no different from designing a collection. “You have the freedom to create your vision and there’s no limit to your ideas.”

Ironically, Cinco has yet to design a pageant wear for a Miss Philippines in Miss Universe. “To be honest I was never approached or contacted by any candidate or national director. Of course it would be an honor for me.”

About author


He runs a GenZ website He was contributing editor of Inquirer’s To be You section where he built a network of student writers, student athletes and models and beauty pageant candidates including Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach who was its beauty correspondent, then beauty editor. He’s styled Wurtzbach and other beauty queens for shoots. He’s a stylist and a kettlebell aficionado.

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