Michael Cinco: Living a Life Full of impalpable dreams

Dubai-based Filipino designer Michael Cinco is best known for his fabulous couture gowns. His innate creativity and masterful techniques have catapulted him to the front ranks of fashion. He has cultivated a dedicated following for the luxe and intricacy of his designs, with their fresh, elegant and detailed juxtapositions of fabric and Swarovski crystals.  

Celebrities who wore Michael Cinco include Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Mariah Carey, Aishwarya Rai, Nick Jonas, James McAvoy, Jason Derulo, Steve Aoki, Carrie Underwood, Sofia Vergara, Mila Kunis, Kylie Minogue, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Ellie Goulding, Allison Janney, Paloma Faith, Nicole Scherzinger, Fergie Ferguson, Dita Von Teese, Brandy, Ashanti, Chris Brown, Tyra Banks, Naomi Campbell. Jennifer Lopez wore a crystallized Michael Cinco couture when she hosted American Music Awards in 2015. Sofia Vergara wore  a stunning Michael Cinco gown at the Golden Globes 2013, who was voted Best Dressed by many TV shows and magazines in the US. British pop star Paloma Faith wore his couture dress at the MET Gala in New York. Michael also designed several costumes for Mila Kunis for the sci-fi blockbuster movie Jupiter Ascending. Michael is a favourite designer of Bollywood superstar Aishwarya Rai where she wore fabulous couture gowns at the Cannes Film Festival in 2017 and 2018 where he also dressed up some famous actresses and models at the prestigious event. Oscar winner Allison Janney wore Michael Cinco when she won Best Supporting Actress in Critic’s Choice Awards 2018. 

Michael was chosen by Asian Couture Federation to be one of the elite members of the best designers in Asia headed by Kenzo Tanaka and ACF President Dr. Frank Cintamani. 

In 2014 Michael was conferred with PRESIDENTIAL AWARD for Outstanding Filipinos Overseas by President Benigno Aquino Jr. for his exemplification of the talent and industry which the Philippines has to offer to the world. 

Michael appeared in US hit realty show AMERICA’s NEXT TOP MODEL Cycle 16 and All-Star Cycle 17 finale hosted by Tyra Banks. He was also chosen as guest designer and guest judge in the new reality show ASIA’s NEXT TOP MODEL in 2013 and CHINA’s NEXT TOP MODEL in 2015 which was highly endorsed by Tyra Banks.

In November, 2011, he won the BREAKTHROUGH DESIGNER Award from the WGSN Global Fashion Awards held in Gotham Hall, New York, against top contenders. Michael won Best Designer award in Grazia’s Style Awards 2016. Michael had won the People’s Choice Award at Dubai Fashion Awards 2010. He was chosen as one of the top movers in Dubai in the Ahlan Hot 100 in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2016 and in ILLUSTRADO’s Most Influential Filipinos in the Gulf for four consecutive years. He was featured in Philippine Airlines’ inflight magazine MABUHAY as well as featured in the airline 2019 Calendar as Dubai’s fashion icon.

Michael debuted his Autumn-Winter Collection 2016 at the Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week. He wowed audiences at Dubai Fashion Week, Miami Fashion Week, LA Fashion Week, Singapore Fashion Week, Perth Fashion Week, Philippine Fashion Week and did shows in Moscow, Montenegro, New York and London.

Michael Cinco launched his first, ever perfume called, IMPALPABLE, in 2012. In 2015, he launched his first ever limited edition underwear collection for international brand BENCH.

Born on August 27, 1971, Michael Cinco grew up enthralled by the glamour of the women of classic Hollywood movies. The impeccable elegance and sophistication of Marlene Dietrich, Grace Kelly, Joan Crawford and Audrey Hepburn created an indelible impression on his formative design imagination. In the picturesque island of Samar, in the Philippines, the young Cinco would indulge in games of dress-up with his Hollywood muses:  “I pictured those fabulous heroines and imagined dressing them up in my creations. I chased after those visions….”

“Moving to the Middle East was a big leap for me, the region is a haven of haute couture,” he recalls. “In my first job in Dubai, I reinvented the image of a slightly staid fashion house, and succeeded in injecting new fashion nuances. Now, it’s great to know that the elite fashionistas of Dubai eventually recognized my passion for fashion.”

In 2002, Michael went to Paris and London to seek out more fashion inspiration. The new landscape brought him renewed vigour for the arts, fashion and the social scene. His fascination for London’s mix of old tradition and contemporary edginess made him stay there for a time. He decided to study at the prestigious Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design. Armed with newer and fresher ideas and geared toward new challenges, he returned to Dubai and established his own label MICHAEL CINCO Dubai in 2003. 

Michael Cinco revels in giving out this quote: “A Michael Cinco woman is moneyed. She may not be born into royalty but she better be married into one. My clothes appear seamless. They look heavy and yet they float. They look expensive simply because they are”.

Bertrand Vergnes: Going after challenges

‘‘I saw a window of opportunities if you will and I took it.’’ Vergnes says about his desire to be in the Fashion industry.

Today Bertrand Vergnes may be unknown to our country and readers but he is actually an accomplished editor-in-chief who almost never sleeps, literally and figuratively speaking (lol). In fact, he actually gives the impression that he has been living several lives at the same time when most of us find it hard to just make these 24 hours worth anything. Vergnes went to do many activities and business endeavors: he was a national competitive swimmer for 14 years from his native country in France, former fashion model for 11 years, CEO, photographer, PhD University teacher, author and now designer! People might think it’s impossible but Vergnes explains to us that it is not difficult or as hard as people might think it would be.

‘‘I never take no for an answer, truly. I never do. When I’m focused and driven about a specific project then I go after it, really. Some of my friends or family members might be in awe with what I do but it’s truly not hard, you just have to stick with it and truly work hard, meet the people who will help you or facilitate whatever help or advice you might need along the way and you have to seek with passion your goals.’’

Considering Vergnes’ current career in Fashion it’s almost weird to, in fact, realize he also was a competitive athlete first and foremost before diving in a new pool (pun intentioned lol).

‘‘Truth be told, when I was growing up I never truly paid attention to world athletes or famous sport championships or anything alike. I was just, and sorry in advance if I sound a bit cocky, but it’s the truth: I was very good at swimming. I did lots of competitions, went to France national championships as part of a regional team and won many medals; nevertheless it wasn’t my calling if you will, but my parents have always wanted me to do a sport, to remain active and in shape and since I was good at it then I stayed. Actually to this day I still very much love to swim, it relaxes me and it takes my mind somewhere else. What I did not like as as much back then was to actually devote my entire youth and weekends even on holidays to train for swimming competitions.’’

Why did you decide to dive head first after being a swimmer, into the world of modeling and then you literally also switched to teaching?

‘‘How much time do you have? lol I am a super driven man, I am, there is no denial here, so in my mind it’s not even a choice. When I am teaching or when I am shooting in a studio for an editorial or when I was swimming or now designing: I am 100% focused on what I am doing. It’s not a superpower, it’s called concentration. I do feel nowadays many people lack of that: focus. I am very passionate about my dreams and objectives in this world therefore it’s not that I never doubt a business decision or working on a certain project or spending hours doing something, however when I decide to do something then I am present and I work hard on the project at hand. I also feel if I may that it’s because of my background: being a swimmer gave me a sense of following rules, respecting time, working with others, being a good listener and so on. Sports do help you not only physically but also mentally and in other aspects of your life when you least expect it. Lately though, I feel that  because of age and experience maybe: that I am way more capable to switch among my different projects without feeling stressed out than the previous ones aren’t finished yet for example. I remember before that I would feel anxious if I were retouching photos from a photoshoot and suddenly I had to review my Korean lessons or preparing a teaching video or finishing up a sketch for my fashion collection and so on. Now I am way more at ease to do that. One morning I can be  teaching online classes and then in the afternoon drawing for my own pleasure and sketching some things for the brand and for an hour perhaps being on Photoshop for a feature for the magazine and then back again at night for a video montage of an online class I had started in the morning. You know? It’s not tough, but it takes guts, preparation and skills to juggle with every single task at hand. It’s not as much as a gift rather than my own drive to achieve everything I set my mind to. I feel it’s unfortunate when young kids or adults my age have no idea what they want to do or who they want to become. It’s crystal clear for me: I want to be the best version of myself in the future; it’s not about comparing myself to others or someone else, but to be inspired by some individuals, to channel my own passions and to put them to work. Sorry for that monologue ahah lol.’’

What inspired you to go from your Spanish PhD studies to Fashion journalism and fashion design to nowadays teaching?

‘‘I have always had a natural inclination towards learning, always. I love to feel that I am doing something new, I love to reinvent myself, my role model is Tyra Banks so you can understand my drive. I love to create new businesses too and to have fun. Much of my success as a magazine editor, I would say, is not because I had been a male model or because I am also a photographer or someone who has just started his own brand (soon to be released hopefully) or that I was smarter than someone else or that I looked better than other models but that I created my own path, my own avenues. I have never been nor will I ever become more handsome or famous or richer than another magazine editor from my age group but I am gusty and truth be told I have marketed myself in a way that stood out. That’s what some of the household name Supermodels did well in their heyday and to me that’s also the reason why these women are still relevant today. All of my swimming phase, or my short modeling career up until I started my studies in foreign languages, was based on skills and gut, even creating my magazine group but in order to get to the next level and grow on a global stage, I needed further than just passion, I needed to face challenges, to meet other professionals, to travel too. It is the best thing I ever did: traveling abroad, live on my own and keep learning.’’

What attracted you initially to the fashion industry?

‘‘To be honest, I wasn’t attracted to the fashion industry perse or clothes, the fashion industry was there all along when I was just a swimmer. What lead me to it were the 90´s supermodels. I literally was struck by their beauty, how they posed, how they were speaking, the way their life seemed so perfect and glamorous. After seeing that American Vogue cover in October 2002 I may recall, shot by top fashion photographer Steven Klein, of Christy Turlington, I just couldn’t look anywhere else. That image was in my brain forever. I didn’t wake up one day and said to myself: I will be a model, because that life was so removed from my reality. Nevertheless people kept saying when I was growing up that I looked ‘exotic’ whatever that means lol, and so on a hunch I guess and after seeing countless magazine covers and spreads of these legendary supermodels and especially of Tyra Banks, I said to myself: `Well, you’re not losing anything by trying this thing out´. And so I did, for eleven years ahah lol. I keep repeating however that my main goal has always been to create my own magazine, so to start up as a model would actually a stepping stone if you will. Unlike Gisele I was not discovered playing Volleyball or like Tyra on a school bench the first day of high school by a fellow student or like Jourdan Dunn while shopping with friends trying out some sunglasses ahah lol, I just started by doing some test shoots here and there and I finally signed with a few modeling agencies and that’s how I started. I remember going to multiple castings in a single day, all the while I had planned shootings for my book by my agencies and so on, some days were just nuts.’’

Was going abroad to Asia or the USA or LatinAmerica part of your initial plan as a model?

“ I would have loved to actually go and model for a few years in Asia but life intervened and I had my studies with languages that made me focus on teaching rather than full on modeling. Once I was in the fashion world and going to castings, shoots, go-sees, agencies meetings I never stopped thinking about my first dream: to create a magazine that would be mine, therefore I did not focus on trying to travel oversees for months or years.’’

What were the some of your roadblocks?

‘‘The major roadblock was the color of my skin, for sure, it’s still today a very sensitive subject nowadays with the diversity ‘trend’ if we want to call it this way. I guess also  to have had my long hair, my indigenous features or that I did not ever have a six-pack could have also been one of the other hundreds reasons I did not become a super male model ahah lol but no worries it has never been the plan. My goal, after seeing these hundreds of magazines as a teenager, was to create my own, to give chances to other fellow models, to possibly become a photographer, which I did and later to maybe one day publish a photography book which I also managed to do a few years ago . All of these were my goals so I don’t look back on my modeling days thinking ‘I wish I had done this or that’ no.

Why did you decide to do an online web series for Instagram IGTV during the Covid-19 pandemic?

‘‘I had never done something like this and I thought it would be fun so last year we did season 1 and now on IGTV it’s season 2. However, like with all my remaining projects, I don’t like to feel forced to do something, so I preferred not to put a deadline for the next episodes or to see how many episodes this show will have. I do things like this on a hunch.´´

What are you most looking forward to these days?

“ Actually I’m looking forward to seeing the next phase of my life. I’m not in a rush, I’d love to see what the future has in store for me but I don’t keep thinking about it every single day. I live day by day and fulfilling my dreams. I’d love to see myself working even more on my design brand, or perhaps change from magazine to video editing. I don’t know, nothing lasts forever but what I do know though is that I hope one thing: wherever I’d be in the future and whoever will be next to me, and whatever project I will work on: I will keep my inner drive and smile coz these define me.´´

Uno Singco: A Fusion of Lens and Balance Sheets

by: Benlito Hobayan

Achieving our childhood dreams is not the culmination of our life journey. Sometimes it is just the beginning of a new adventure.

Armand “Uno Singco” Simpliciano had always dreamed of becoming an accountant and having his own business someday. Though his parents wanted him develop a career in the academe, this idea was fueled when he got accepted to an scholarship program but he followed his heart and eventually ventured into the world of business in the field of Accounting.

Consequently he landed a job in Saudi Arabia and developed his dream career. This is the place where our path crossed.

About 3 years ago, I came across a post of Barbie Felix in Facebook regarding a Fashion Event which he and his friends had hosted. I was browsing thru the comment section and I stumble upon his name in the exchange of comments. Seeing him being referred to as a photographer tickled my curiosity, I checked his profile and saw his works.

Being a hobbyist photographer myself, I am a little bit critical in this type of art, and I must say he was doing really great job in his pieces that I saw in his page.

Fast forward today, I was tasked to write an article for him to be featured in this magazine. To be honest, it took me a lot of time trying to compose a story about Uno. Trying to put into words the talent and endearing personality that he possesses somewhat posed a huge challenge to my writing skills. I was always out of words trying to put drama into a colorful  personality that he is.

As a writer it is easier to lay down stories that went through huge obstacles and rocky roads, which in the end overcome them all and stood mighty and proud with success.

What fascinated me much though, is that how he balances his career as a fulltime accountant and an artist, specially that in the filed of photography he chooses is probably the most intricate and demanding which is Fashion Photography.

Upon being tasked to write an article about him, the very first question that popped into my mind was that, who was he in his younger days?…. To which he answered like… Oh, I am happy go lucky type of person and love to stay outdoor rather than at home… Which probably explains his ease in balancing two demanding careers… Persons of such personality usually finds easier balance in life as they don’t overthink, they just face adversities head on find solutions without much ado.

Unlike typical artists whose intro to the art they are passionate of stems from their appreciation of the masterpieces they see. Uno’s venture into photography is much more like of a curiosity of the fancy gadgets like a having an expensive DSLR Camera. Little did he know that he has the talent in visual arts.

Upon acquiring his new gadget, he started browsing photographer portfolios and stalking photographers to learn techniques. His drive to learn new things brought him to cross paths with SonnieLanda (Kurnelius Fudge on FB) who very kind to share his talent with Uno  and mentor him in the art of Photography.

As a photographer, what sets Uno apart from the “modern” photographer is that he is less reliant on photo-editing. Though he uses digital photo enhancing software, in as much he can he try to work more on organic and raw outputs. This is probably the reason why I myself as hobbyist photographer appreciate more his works than other photographers I know here in Saudi Arabia.

Amidst of the cutthroat competition in Fashion Photography and balancing his profession as accountant, Uno had managed to publish his works successfully in countless international magazines, from Asia, Europe, Middle East and the United States. With the aid of his favorite Canon 6D with 70-200mm lens.

The beauty and emotions of a human face is what impresses him the most, that’s why his work are more concentrated in portraits and glamour shots.

Asked on what he look forward to in this craft… He just said.. “Come what may… Whatever life brings in front of me, I will just deal with it day by day and see when I crossed the bridge of fate”… This kind of personality is probably the reason why Uno Singco is successful in balancing two demanding careers. Do not overthink, enjoy the adventure, live life, love what you do and do what makes you happy…

Modelling (and) Business.

by: Eunice Domingo

“Confidence plays a major role in modeling, and most of us do not possess that since childhood. But you have to draw it from yourself, not from other people. You have to find that doubtful side of you and work on it. Being confident means knowing how to handle the emotional outcome of the challenges you’ll face. Begin by acknowledging every emotion, especially difficult ones rather than avoiding them, never neglect those emotions ‘cause it may turn into fears or worst of all a nightmare.” –A gem of advice being kept by a 27 years old young model from Kuwait, Abdulrahman AlBader. A recent graduate of Bachelors in Marketing who dreams of becoming a successful businessman,  “رجل اعمال” in Native Arabic language. 

As we speak Abdulrahman is budging in between Kuwait and Dubai because of his commitments. He has even gone way farther to mention; Abu Dhabi, Barcelona, London, Lyon and Madrid. 

This young model started his career big when he was scouted via Instagram eight years ago to be featured in Abu Dhabi Formula 1 2014 advertisement. He was still excited while looking back on how he started –. I wasn’t really aware how huge the offer was until after I’ve accepted it, I kind of debated it but later on got encouraged by my older brother. I was just graduating from high school and was about to enter university when he said experiences like this might only knock once in a lifetime, and this ‘once in a lifetime’ talk used to terrify me. *laughs* I accepted the offer and flew to Dubai later that month. The shooting, studio and preparation was in Dubai, but the actual event is held in Abu Dhabi. It was a 2-day print ad photoshoot and I was really impressed with everything, everyone is professional and the companies who invest in these ads are spending gigabucks in attracting the  target audience while us models represent them. That was my first year being associated with the media people in the UAE, I really enjoyed the experience. It was remarkable. During the 3-day Formula 1 event, I got offers from couple of modeling/media agencies in Dubai, but I had to consider a lot of things before signing in the contract as it was also the same time that I do wanted to get into business school and get my bachelors degree something that  I’ve always dream of doing. 

Once he got into the modelling industry the struggle coming from society’s norm started. Different beliefs. Gossips. It reminded him of his hometown, his highschool days. The only way to overcome such is to stay away from negativity and carry on with new things fearlessly, in the end it will have a better impact in one’s life. The following year he got a number of offers from brands to editorials –and realized  that modeling is a type of art, just like acting or singing, models get to act on behalf of someone, it’s sort of acting for photos. For instance, wearing a suit and tie doesn’t really mean you’re an employee or if you are shooting for designer underwear it should not demean you as a person

More importantly, he has full support coming from the photographers and those people that he worked with.They were the ones who stood by his side, they were the ones who turned off those silly thoughts out of his mind. And of course, his family. If it weren’t for them he wouldn’t be the guy that he is right now. His family’s fundamental thought may be liberated but true to themselves. “These creatures that we call “people” has never been the ones that will help you or even pay your taxes in the end. Do not mind them when they poke you”

Aldulrahman is raised in a healthy family, literally and figuratively. I grew up with parents that eat healthy, sleep early and work hard, so I was raised as a child that has to eat healthy to “maintain a stronger body” so I’ve been the child that was surrounded by healthy food in his household. I used to wait for the weekend so eagerly ‘cause it is when my mom would take  me out to eat ice-cream. LOL. My present diet though is a NO diet-plan, I do eat salads at least twice a day, my breakfast and lunch always must consist of lean food, because If I eat greasy breakfast or at times junk food brunch. Dinner is my most cherished meal, I usually eat lean meat or grilled chicken and rice on the side or carbs in general and this meal has to always contain more than 1 serving. Yes I eat a lot! 

I love working out.I usually do it first thing in the morning, I like the feeling of having to accomplish my resistance training early in the day ‘cause it gives me sort of a satisfaction. On days where I don’t workout, run or inactive I am either totally busy or it is my rest day. I believe that to have a healthy mind it should be partnered with physical and action-oriented SMART goals. My suggestion, maintain a healthy routine and keep yourself motivated. 

Modelling is not my end, it is my life at the moment but I still want to come into the business field in the years to follow.  

He continued, this life has completely changed me, it made me wiser in life. I was a whole different person when I got into business school. I was juggling modelling requests as well as trying to finish a semester. I have challenged myself. I said I can do pretty much everything I have in mind. Anxiety was present but the feeling of doing and finishing what I’m supposed to do gives me a great rush, a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. I am just proud of myself. 

His piece of advice to those aspiring models, remember there is no single path to follow. Different models have found success through different routes. I might be one of the lucky ones who immediately found support from designers, photographers and especially managers who acted like my parents in the industry before I went on photoshoots or before I hit the runway. He said these people provided him a moral booster.

Although there might be no clear path in this career just show your confidence, show your style, show your art and stay motivated. 

Some models really do work their way into modeling, it is a tough job. These models track down test-shoots and put together their comb cards and portfolios. They study and practice modelling through their expressions, posing, runway walking, hair styling, working in front of the camera, and learning how the business works, and in the end, all that hard work will be paid off. 

As for me I still have more work to do, more books to read. It will never be enough to have more adventures, because I always want to challenge myself and that’s how I keep myself motivated and positive.

I’m told not to talk about it yet, but there are many exciting things that I will take part in the coming months hopefully when things are more stable in the world. Stay tuned! 

Cool Arabia, thank you much for featuring me in the magazine, I’m honored. Please stay safe. 

I used to have this wrong idea that male models cannot be as successful as female models. Perhaps the media has more concentration on women, but the real reason behind is just that females catch much more attention. Also, men of all ages can be successful models and the idea that only men in their late teens or early twenties can model is false. From commercial, to editorial, to fashion modeling, there are markets for male models of all ages. Brands are often looking to appeal to a broader market, and having models that represent different generations is a great way to do that. Also those standards are not strict and applied in all of the industry. For example, height standards for male models are usually only applied when working as fashion and runway models. It’s not a hard rule. There are different types of modeling, and they don’t only call for tall and physique male models. It is totally okay to be on an average height and weight, shorter and bit more taller, modelling industry is welcoming male/female of different size, feature and race. -Aldulrahman AlBader

Jocel De Las Flores: Reeling in Style

by: Roberto M. Felix

A successful fashion designer does not only create fabulous designs but also a more successful protégé. – Jocel De Las Flores

Jocel Estandarte  De las Flores a 32 years old, Filipino citizen, born from the Sunshine Valley CALINOG, a town of rich culture and traditions from the City of LOVE Iloilo Philippines, and  currently working as a Master Florists and Fashion Designer in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for almost 6 years. He is a stage performer and dancer won several awards and recognitions. A talent coach, a visual artist, an event organizer and culture lover. Through his creations he can easily showcase his designs and gives inspiration to all of his fellow countrymen abroad and his native town.

Jocel sparked his interest in fashion at his early age, as he told, I love the power of clothing and the transformative quality of dressing up. When I was very young, maybe five years old I remember dressing up for different events at school and I took pride in having the best outfit, or at least making the biggest effort. Later when I was at high school I would make my own clothing, which fitted me very badly because I had no idea what I was doing. I made my own trousers that were way too big so I would wrap laces around my legs to make them fit – my friends saw me dressed this way. That experience also made me realize the power that clothing has, with that you can control how you are perceived and what you communicate… clothing is a language all of its own.

Philippines has traditionally known as the Capital of the World’s Festivity due to the thousands of town, city, provincial, national, and village fiestas in the country. Jocel started creating costumes and festival dresses at the age of 13. He grew up with his province grandest religious and cultural Dinagyang Festival. It is the most awarded festival in the country because of its legacy, popularity and innovation.

At the age of 18, he involved himself in the fashion industry. His design inspired by bringing the authentic patterns of different native cultures of the world with the touch of modernization and he can describe his style as THE CLASSIC MILLENNIAL, bringing the memories of the past to the new generations.

Mr. Hector Totong Gellangarin, a fashion designer, his mentor and inspiration. He teaches him a lot and he influenced him to be a good person. He remembered the advice, big letter “A” ATTITUDE towards fashion industry.

He is fully motivated to pursue his career as a fashion designer when he received a lot of appreciation and positive feedback from other people. He gained a lot of lessons and strengthen his own personality. Time management is very important to his profession as he encountered different clients, personalities and situation. Dealing with them with professional manner can fulfill their satisfaction towards his design.

For him, Fashion and style is everywhere, the only thing we need is APPRECIATION. 

He love Louis Vuitton because of the unusual design and special patterns. The brand is remarkably fabulous that suited to anyone, just like his style. “I can dress anyone because for me fashion has no limitation. My favorite part of being fashion designer is when people wears my creations and more people amazing applause with it”. He happily added.

His dream is to work with Michael Cinco, a Filipino fashion designer based in Dubai. His goal in this career is to dress people amazingly by introducing his fashion style to the world and to dress his favorite Hollywood award winning actress ANGELINA JOLIE 

Jocel joined a lot of fashion designer’s competition and he learned to be humble and be grateful. His greatest achievements is when people appreciate and satisfied towards his craft. He knew how to become more persistent. He understand the word appreciation and become more confident in everything he do.

As he shared, the best formula to become a successful fashion designer is to follow your heart and compassionate on it. Always believe in yourself, stay humble and always put God on the center of it.

Fashion is different from other fields. It’s about living from the past until now. Every day when you get dressed, you’re recreating yourself. That’s an amazing thing. Sometimes no matter how together you are, you hit a point in the season, or in your life, where none of your clothes feel right. Maybe they don’t fit, or your life has changed. When you go out and find clothes in new sizes or shapes, clothing can help you reinvent yourself. Your clothes are the tool that helps you get through those transitions. It’s why fashion continues to be viable for him.

ART and EMOTION – An interview with Artist, Mohammed Briek

by: Andy Anoche Cauyan

Mohammed Briek, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. His artwork typically depicts realistic portraits placed in natural settings, rendered through oil paints and skilled layering techniques. Although colorful, often reflects his emotional pain. Naming light and patterns in nature as leading influences within his pieces, MBQ makes use of his artwork as a means of self-expression. The man depicted in his portraits are representatives of himself, and though they may not all feature his face, each is indicators of MBQ emotional state at the time of creation.

He began his art career in Chicago downtown, USA. He stayed for six years at the east side streets were full of graffiti, that’s what helps him to see more of art and started to improve his talent. His career took on level up when he sketches “levels mall” in Riyadh city.

Like his favorite famous artist, Vincent van Gogh. His story is well-known by anyone with an interest in art history. Van Gogh’s life was deeply affected by mental illness, and he went through several torrid love affairs and bouts of depression. He often coped with this through his art, and he drew the people and places that influenced his life. Mohammed is calm and loves to be isolated.

“The best part about being an artist is to transfer my invisible feelings to a sensual artistic painting. When the passion for drawing meets commitment, we can say that we are professionally and technically successful”.

MBQ is a silent type of artist. Anyone who has spent time on their art knows what a therapeutic experience it can be. Not only is it an escape from the everyday world, but it also allows you to express your feelings and work through issues. Art therapy is becoming increasingly popular for victims of trauma, prisoners, and people who are working through a difficult time.

Many of his works lead to the creation of images that may appear distorted or disturbing, depending on the artists’ inner feelings. He was certainly never shy about expressing his inner turmoil, and his work is often expressive and dramatic

MBQ wanted to share his Philosophy to our readers that “every artist dips his brush in his soul, and paints his nature into his pictures.” –Henry Ward Beecher. It is widely thought that the capacity of artworks to arouse emotions in audiences is a perfectly natural and unproblematic fact. It just seems obvious that we can feel sadness. This may be why so many of us are consumers of art in the first place. Good art, many of us tend to think, should not leave us cold.

Furthermore, if it were possible to find a plausible theory of emotion that would vindicate the claim that we experience genuine emotion towards artworks, questions arise as to why most of us are motivated to engage in artworks, especially when these tend to produce negative emotions. How can the emotion we feel towards artworks be rationally justified? Overall, a proper understanding of our emotional responses to art should shed light on its value.

For more of his artwork visit his IG account @ mbq.vibes

Faygar C. Reyes: Designing your Passion

“Faygar C. Reyes (Born May 19, 1976 in Zamboanga City, Philippines) is a Fashion Designer in Al Khobar, K.S.A.  He works for the established fashion house of Tawakeya, known for custom-made, bridal gowns and high-end ensembles in Saudi Arabia and Gulf region. Back in the Philippines, he started his mentorship with the Dean of the Philippine Fashion Ben Farrales and eventually was appointed to design the bridal and couture line. In 2001, he started working with Emparatura an established bridal shop in the region. Furthermore, he also worked with the Lebanese Designer Akl Fakih in Dubai where he mastered the aesthetics of the Arab world in terms of dressing and style. Currently, he is the designer of Signature fashion in Al-Khobar and a season designer to some outstanding Filipino actors.—“

Flashback Profile

        When I was eight years old, the word “fashion” became an unlimited allowance to express my imagination and creativity with clothing. I have distinct memories of dressing-up dolls, swatching fabrics from tailoring shops, collecting buttons and accessories to match a vintage ensembles. Watching Twentieth century fox movies was a childhood delight. The wardrobes of the glamorous silver screen Icons such as Joan Crawford, Ginger Rogers, Richard Burton, Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn were notably exceptional. The earliest images of fashion that I get to watch from movies, television, magazines and newspapers impacted my ideas of style that soon became my passion. Gradually, with continued interest and research. I noted that thru the changing times, the way and manner people dress-up change. More so, there were several factors that influence the change. Socio-economic, political, religious and cultural influences.

     Say for example, the immortal movie Cleopatra (Elizabeth Taylor, 1963) famous for its costume cost a then-staggering $44 million and ultimately became one of the highest-grossing movies of the 1960’s. All the details of the costumes were intricately created to reveal the artistry of the ancient civilization. It gave me an amazing perception of how the ancient rulers look in terms of their clothing, styling and appearances. All the interesting details of a civilization that once ruled the world.

The Designing Process

     Like any given profession, we start our work with assessment. When facing a client, assessment starts physically, such as the body proportion, skin color, anybody attributes that are essential to the client. Say for example, a client may not want to show her arms, hide her hips or flaunt her waist. These are some physical attributes that need to be dealt-with. Another is the client’s personal preference. Most clients would love to share their personal insights. Such as the color of choice, fabric combination or a fancy or trendy detail. One should also consider the cultural aspect such as religion. Whereas most of the conservative clients in the region would require long-sleeves, others are more liberating such as sleeveless or high-slit dresses. Another important aspect is knowing the occasion. Is it an engagement party? A debut or a wedding? In line with the event, you must also consider the concept if there is any, the time and venue. All these contribute to assessment.

Ekaterina Rautiainen : Beyond Dreams

by: Roberto M. Felix Jr.

“Art is a reflection of our reality. Photography transmit our history”. 

Ekaterina Rautiainen, 29 years old from Russia and currently living in Dubai for 3 years. She is a professional photographer specializes in capturing portrait and fashion photos for editorial and advertising.

It was her childhood dream to become a fashion designer or to work in a fashion industry. In 2017, when she moved to Dubai with her husband, she started her business as a designer for woman’s swimwear.

Ekaterina loves to draw, sing, and travel (visited over 35 Countries for the last five years). Have a passion in dancing (pole dance and hoop). Let’s see more about her.

How would you describe your photographic style?

My favorite thing is to work in a various locations, with the goal of creating a connection between the model and the surroundings. I tend to switch between dramatic and being over the top to simplicity depending on location, clothing and intent of picture.

How did you get into a Fashion Photography?

Grew up in a small village in Russia and dreaming to live in a big city, I started practicing my photography with my friends as a subject together with filming camera. I started professionally at the age of 27. But before that I worked first with different photographers as they shoot my beachwear brand. I found it interesting that’s why one time, I bought a camera and started to learn photography and later on I am the one who made photography in my own brand collections with my own vision. Since I love photography, I decided to close my shop and focus in photography, I attended several courses and trainings.

What are the most difficult aspect of Professional Fashion Photography?

I think the biggest challenge is finding the perfect team and building a name for yourself. The team for a fashion photographer usually involves a hair and makeup artist and a stylist. There has to be absolute harmony in this group in order to benefit from each other’s creativity. The better the team works together the better the outcome.

Living in an Arab country is having a lot of limitation also, sometimes you need to get permission first in specific locations because some of the most beautiful places here are not allowed to be captured by a professional camera

Where did you get your creative inspiration?

My inspiration stems from my daily life, specially my husband, he is the great source of inspiration. His love, support and care giving me lot of reasons to motivate, energize and to have a creativity mind.  Also my friends, relatives, travels, movies, art, music having a source of influenced.  

Talking about the biggest companies and brands – what’s the coolest dream you want to work with?

My dream is to work for Givenchy, YSL, BVLGARI and TOM FORD. I’m sure I can feel them well and one day can create something beautiful.

Does social media plays a big role in your photography?

Of course yes, through social media my work is very accessible to all followers, especially when my models posted my creations. I received a lot of beautiful feedback from different people.

What advice do you have for other aspiring fashion photographers?

Everyone have their own uniqueness, do not compare yourself with others. Shoot, shoot, shoot and shoot as much as you can. The more you shoot, the more experienced you become. Experiment your own creativity, refine your different techniques or find ways of using your light creatively. It keeps your mind fresh and do what you love every day. Do it with passion and you will success on it.

What does photography imparts to you?

Photography helped me to be more kind and it open the doors with other people. I became more creative and compassionate.  It helps to see same things but from different perspective. I want to be an inspiration to others, I want to help them also to believe in their own talent and capabilities. I am hoping that in the future I can help someone and I can produce more creative photographers by sharing my knowledge in arts and fashion. 

Ekaterina’s creative works has been published in Cool Arabia Men Issue No. 1 with his model Nino Chepercovic. She is very thankful for the opportunity and looking forward to see more of her artistic work in the future specially in Cool Arabia Woman’s Edition.

 You can visit her social media  account : IG rauski_ph

Bashayer Al-Wada’ni : Revitalizing Confidence with Colors

by: Roberto M. Felix Jr

Bashayer Al-Wada’ni, is one of the most loved and well known Makeup Artist from Nuayriyah-Eastern Region in Saudi Arabia. With her incredible talent, her make up artistry focuses on natural and modern beauty.  She’s a teacher by profession but finally decided to quit to pursue her dreams to become a certified Hair and Make-Up Artist.

Makeup artistry is an extremely diverse career. If you’ve always dreamed of becoming a makeup artist, but simply don’t know where to start – talking to industry experts can help you to decide which direction you want to take your career in. Today, we’re talking to the incredibly talented Bashayer about her career as a makeup artist.

How did your career begin in the world of beauty?

I started to do make-up when I was 19 by putting my touches on my family’s faces. But in 31 I started officially and did it seriously. The first step was when my eldest brother pushed me to start and investigate my dream.  I remembered when he take me to make-up store and asked me to buy a lot of products as a gift. This helps me a lot to follow my dream.

Who inspires you doing to pursue in this industry?

The first person who always inspired me is my ever loving and supportive mother, she works hard to make sure that her child is equipped with the knowledge, skills and abilities. She’s interested in all types of arts and I was trying to be like her in any field. The artist Dany Sanz And Ahmed Kobaysi inspired me a lot too.

What area of the make-up industry is your favorite and why?

My favorite make up area is fashion in colors. Make up is a kind of art, visual colors always attracting me. Colors create glamour.

What do you love most about doing a make-up?

I do really Love when I make my client feel good when they looked in the mirror and seeing them filled with confidence. Seeing my clients happy and satisfied to my work motivates me to do all my best in this craft. I do it with much love and it makes me happy and fulfilled. It’s amazing to see. I do also love it when I work with a team I know well and we get amazing shots for the client, so everyone is happy all round!

Can you tell us memorable moment you had while doing a make-up?

Honestly, at the beginning of my career, I was frightened of the customer’s reactions, if they like the blended colors of my work but when they see the results and they were happy, I found it very interesting and delightful

How do you keep up with all the new trends and styles?

Social media is helping me staying abreast of the latest trends you can see it everywhere. I found also lot of inspiration in magazines, in internet. I always find time to make myself up to date and because it is my passion it ended with transforming my work into beautiful and stunning looks.

What would you say is the most challenging part of being a make-up artist?

Actually, I’ve faced a lot of challenges because I have to travel from place to place to take make up courses and doing a lot of photo sessions and I am a mother of four kids but I always trying to find time for them.

What do you think are some of the keys to being successful make-up artist?

Patience and self-confidence are the most things which any make-up artist should have.

What inspires you today?

My customers. I love to hear about their concerns. When it comes to colors, Mother Nature is the biggest influence. From fishes in the sea to tropical birds to plants and flowers, nature puts colors together so beautifully. Every situation teach me something, I learned how to be positive and become more flexible.

What is your favorite Make-Up brand?

The brand that I love to buy is the Make Up Forever and I still use so many of their products.   And also my dream to become Make Up Forever Family.

What is the most important advice that you can give to those who wants to pursue the same career?

My advice to them is to be patient, keep moving forward no matter how tough it gets. Keep learning and growing by Improving themselves, follow and chase for their dream.

What is the most important beauty advice that you can give to the women?

I’m all about skin, so take care of you from the inside , eat well , hydrate , exercise , we live in a society where we have perfection thrown at us everyday and many women feel that they need to live up to this standard which can sometimes lead to problems , don’t put heavy make-up and BE YOU , there is nothing more beautiful! Embrace all that you are and invest in a good foundation (smile).

Bashayer is happy and fulfilled in her career. She became more creative on her craft and open minded by accepting different opinions and feedback whether it is good or bad. She want to help someone who want to know and become a make-up artist. She will start giving her own courses on make up for beginners and soon the level up courses for professionals. Her greatest achievement is to produce her own eyelashes products.   

Want to follow Bashayer’s journey as a professional makeup artist? Then don’t forget to follow her on Instagram (bashair_alwad3ani) to see all of her latest work

Barbie Felix: A Tussle with Fate to Reach His Dreams in the Fashion Industry.

by: Benlito Hobayan

“Fate may bring us to the most unusual places and throw upon us gargantuan challenges but that doesn’t mean we cannot bring your dreams along”.

It was a cold winter night about Six years ago that I was invited by a friend to a mini party to celebrate the yuletide season in Jubail, Saudi Arabia. Being in this conservative country such kind of gathering could pose offense to the culture of the host country, but Filipino as we are; we always find a way to celebrate our values without defying the laws of the land that served as our second home.

During the mini party everyone was abuzz with the sumptuous food served and one name that always comes to mention was Barbie. I was a bit curious on Barbie and what has “she” got to do with the delicious food. Then, as the party was about to start, along came the talk of the crowd!

Being someone who is a bit critical on everything around me, I couldn’t help the war going on with my two well contoured eyebrows; my initial reaction was… He is no Barbie! He’s a Teddy Bear! -(of course I am not that mean to say such words in a public to a person whom I just knew… I said that to myself only)…

That’s how I get to know Roberto “Barbie” Felix… Fast forward almost seven years to today, the Barbie who make delicious food remains one of my closest friends. Never did I imagine from that cold winter night, I would end up writing an article featuring the “Teddy Bear Barbie” I met in that party.

Fate has many amusing ways to bring us into our dreams. In the same manner that I end up writing an article featuring a person whom I somehow had slight prejudice on our first meeting but ended as one of my closest friends. Barbie also had his own share of “tug of war” with fate in his quest to achieving his dreams of being an accomplished fashion stylist.

Barbie grew up in the City of Malabon in the Philippines, a place famous for its food and delicacies, which explains his exceptional cooking skills. (Ironically, I used to live in the same place for 2 years, the place where I lived was just few blocks to his home, -but never had the chance to meet him then).

Though he grew up in a place known for its cuisine and being widely exposed to music; for some years he was a trainee musician in Banda Malabon 4, a famous Marching and Brass Band in Malabon. A soloist and a formerly choir President in the choral group in Immaculate Concepcion Parish Malabon City. The Mary Immaculate Choral Group and Himig Papuri Chamber Choir. Aside of this, he worked independently as Event Coordinator/Organizer, host for weddings and debut.  Barbie had other interests; at an early age he was already fascinated with the glitz and glamour of beauty pageants. Growing up he followed conscientiously local and international pageants dreaming that one day he become a part of it.

Door opened for him during his university days. This was the time when he had the chance to step into the pageant and fashion scene of the Philippines. He started as an assistant stylist cum make-up artist for pageant candidates, his talent however brought him to new heights in the craft he loves most. Later in his career he became a full-time stylist & make-up artist and handler of models, which gave him a considerable success in the local fashion scene.

To further improve his craft, Barbie did an internship with Ever Bilena Cosmetics, Philippines’ biggest cosmetic company. He worked as a Product Analyst, an ultimate realization of his childhood dreams. But then again, the game of fate came in the way.

In March 2010 a job offer to work Saudi Arabia came his way. Barbie was then torn between his childhood dreams and the opportunity of better salary and financial advancement. Like most Filipinos, he chooses the opportunity and stalled his dreams behind in the Philippines.

As they say… Fate may bring us too many different crossroads and throw humps & bumps along the way, but if we keep the flame of our dreams burning in our hearts, our journey will eventually find its way to our destiny.

In 2010, Barbie met Angel another fashion enthusiast chasing his dreams in Saudi Arabia -a rather unusual place to embark a career on vanity due to its young culture in fashion. Thanks to the rapid change in the world today, Saudi is now more tolerant in this field and as fashion enthusiast myself, I can see the biggest potential in this part of the world due to its very high consumer class demographics.

His acquaintance with Angel led into the re-opening of doors to the fashion world for Barbie. With his innate talent and experience, his entrance to the industry was almost like walk in the park. He was then became a part of The Fashion Runway Eastern Region as one of the Board of Directors.

The most notable model that Barbie had under his tutelage was Eunice Domingo, -probably one of the most sought after expat print and ramp model in Saudi Arabia. Having done projects for various local and international magazines.

To this day, while he has a regular day job as Administrator in one of the biggest Petrochemical Companies in Saudi Arabia, he still manages to keep achieving his dreams in the fashion world.

In 2018, Barbie and his group of friends founded the Studio12 fashion house.  Where he serves as one of the board of directors taking charge in the Fashion and Style Department. While serving as one of the BODs, he also contributes articles to Cool Arabia fashion magazine specializing in feature writing.

Looking forward to a better career in the fashion world, Barbie continues to improve his craft by exposing himself to more projects in the local fashion scene.

Like what I have said earlier in this article… “Fate may bring us to the most unusual places and throw upon us gargantuan challenges but that doesn’t mean we cannot bring your dreams along.” – Barbie epitomizes this saying at its best. What he achieved thus far is an enormous treasure he can bank on his growing colorful resume in the fashion Industry.