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LOOK: Designer Michael Cinco’s Miss Universe gowns—from Nova Stevens to Pia Wurtzbach

By CHUCK SMITH Published May 24, 2021 3:24 pm Updated May 26, 2021 10:45 am

Dubai-based Filipino designer Michael Cinco made headlines over the weekend when he took to social media to slam the team of Miss Universe Canada 2020 Nova Stevens. In his post, the designer said Stevens’ team alleged that he tried to sabotage their performance at the 69th Miss Universe, a claim he vehemently denied.

But Stevens isn’t the only Miss Universe candidate Cinco made gowns for in this year’s pageant. In fact, he has been designing gowns for Miss Universe candidates and winners for the past few years. And many of his creations have become iconic pageant pieces, thanks to his signature lavishness and details. 

On his website, Cinco described his work as "seamless."  He adds, "They look heavy and yet they float. They look expensive simply because they are” In short: they perfect for the beauty pageant stage. 

Here’s a look at some of the pieces Cinco has created for the women of Miss Universe the past few years.

Bianca Tirsin of Romania during the 69th Miss Universe pageant. Photo from Instagram/Bianca Tirsin

Bianca Tirsin, Miss Universe Romania 2020 

Bianca Tirsin of Romania wore a couture butterfly-inspired Michael Cinco gown for the preliminary competition of the 69th Miss Universe pageant.

In an interview with ABS-CBN News, Tirsin expressed her pride for being the “first Romanian to wear the gown” of Cinco.

“I know I will shine in the Miss Universe stage. I am incredibly happy that he personally sent me a direct message asking me to wear one of his creations,” she said. "It’s an honorable thing for me and I will be happy not to disappoint him and to wear also the Miss Universe crown!”

Demi-Leigh Tebow wearing a Michael Cinco couture gown for the 69th Miss Universe pageant in Hollywood, Florida. Photo from Instagram/Michael Cinco

Demi-Leigh Tebow, Miss Universe 2017

Michael Cinco also dressed up Demi-Leigh Tebow of South Africa during the 69th Miss Universe. In an Instagram post, Cinco said the couture gown Tebow wore channels “30s Hollywood glamour.”

Tebow, who won the 2017 Miss Universe competition, was an expert analyst and correspondent in this year’s pageant.

Mohanaprabha Selvam wearing Michael Cinco during the national costume competition of the 68th Miss Universe pageant. Photo from the Miss Universe Organization
Mohanaprabha Selvam wearing a Michael Cinco gown during the preliminary competition of the 68th Miss Universe pageant. Photo from the Miss Universe Organization

Mohanaprabha Selvam, Miss Universe Singapore 2019

Michael Gown created the national costume and evening gown of Singapore’s Mohanaprabha Selvam for the 68th Miss Universe pageant in Atlanta. Selvam said the national costume was inspired by the Vanda Miss Joaquim, Singapore’s national flower.

Meanwhile, she wore a couture silver grey Michael Cinco gown for the evening gown portion of the pageant’s preliminary competition.

In an Instagram post, Cinco revealed that he also created gowns for three other contestants for that year's Miss Universe pageant: Natalie Ortega of Spain, Mariana Varela of Argentina, and Fiona Tenuta of Uruguay. 

Marta Magdalena Stepien at the 67th Miss Universe pageant in Thailand. Photo from Instagram/Marta Magdalena Stepien

Marta Magdalena Stepien, Miss Universe Canada 2018

Nova Stevens isn’t the first Miss Universe candidate from Canada that Michael Cinco has created gowns for. In 2018’s 67th Miss Universe pageant in Thailand, Marta Magdalena Stepien of Canada wore a crystallized gown with a plunging neckline for the preliminary competition. For the evening gown competition of the pageant, Stepien added a train to the dress. She reached the Top 10 segment of the competition.

But Stepien’s Miss Universe evening gown is currently marred with controversy after Filipino designer Rian Fernandez claimed in a Facebook post that he also made five gowns for the Miss Universe Canada team, to be worn by Stepien during the competition. Stepien ended up wearing the Michael Cinco gown instead, and Fernandez claimed the Miss Universe Canada team returned only one of the five unused gowns.

Iris Mittenaere at the Miss Universe 2017 live show in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo from the Miss Universe Organization

Iris Mittenaere, Miss Universe 2016

Iris Mittenaere of France passed the Miss Universe crown at the 2017 pageant in Las Vegas, Nevada wearing a Swarovski-embellished ombré couture gown. This wasn't the last time Iris wore a Cinco creation; she wore a Michael Cinco couture gown at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival.

Pia Wurtzbach at the 2016 Miss Universe pageant in Manila, Philippines. Photo from Instagram/Pia Wurtzbach

Pia Wurtzbach, Miss Universe 2015

Pia Wurtzbach has had many memorable fashion moments since winning the Miss Universe crown in 2015. But it can be argued that her most iconic was when she wore this embellished sapphire gown as she did her final walk at the Miss Universe 2016 pageant in Manila, Philippines. It's so iconic that her Madame Tussauds wax figure in Hong Kong is wearing a replica of her blue Cinco gown.

Banner photo from the Miss Universe Organization