The red carpet is a runway for unknown designers

Michael Cinco

"He's a new name for me," Sofia Vergara told Ryan Seacrest on the Globes red carpet, as she showed off Michael Cinco's unstintingly bejeweled black strapless gown.

And he was a new name for most viewers at home, unless they caught the Dubai-based Filipino designer in a 2011 appearance on "America's Next Top Model." Los Angeles stylist-turned-public-relations-rep Antonio Esteban did, and after a Facebook friendship, signed Cinco as one of his first clients.

Vergara's stylists, known professionally as Rob and Mariel, had the dress amid the "racks and racks" they put together for the actress to consider. "It was one of the first things she pulled out," said the duo's Rob Zangardi.

Esteban must have a good database — about the same time, Lady Gaga wore a custom Cinco gown, developed with her stylist Nicola Formichetti, to a charity event. Rob and Mariel (Haenn) also style Jennifer Lopez, so who knows what the future holds?

"We don't like to get too stuck on names," Zangardi said. "If it's a good dress, it's a good dress."

Rami Al Ali

Also headquartered in Dubai, native Syrian Rami Al Ali was signed to PR powerhouse Film Fashion (which also represents Murad and Packham) just days before the Globes.

But there was Carla Gugino, looking radiant on the red carpet in his silvery halter gown with openwork. "Slinky sexy," said the "Today" show's The Look blog in their roundup of on-trend metallics.

"I saw that it was so beautifully made," said Gugino's stylist, Jessica Paster. "And when I saw it on Carla's body, it was so, so stunning." All in all, a promising Hollywood debut for the designer, who founded his Dubai couture house only in 2011, after schooling at the College of Fine Arts in Damascus and then apprenticing with other couturiers in the region. And he showed in Paris, for the first time, during the just-ended couture shows as well.

Tony Ward

This awards season you can't ask for a better "get" than one of the "Girls" from HBO's hit show, and there was Zosia Mamet on the Globes red carpet in a severe black-leather paneled sheath by Italian-born designer Tony Ward (not to be confused with the actor and 1980s Madonna paramour).

It was quite a departure from the usual beaded couture confections he shows in Rome, such as the fanciful full-skirted style worn by Julianne Hough at the People's Choice Awards a few days before the Globes.

Maybe Mamet's gown harkened back to Ward's training with the late Italian maestro of geometry Gianfranco Ferre at Dior in the 1980s. But it also reflected the dark aesthetic of her notoriously secretive stylist Ryan Hastings, famed for dressing Rooney Mara in similar austere fashion.

But Mamet was anything but grim. The Go Fug Yourself blog's Heather raved, "I like that her gown is shot through with leather. And that she's smiling. It seriously makes a difference."

Maria Lucia Hohan

"Maria Lucia Hohan is the best designer you never really heard of," according to Red Carpet Fashion Awards, listing Taylor Swift, Jennifer Hudson and J. Lo among the fans of this Romanian-born designer and her sparkle-free styles that combine delicately colored draped silk with naughty-but-nice nude illusion corsetry.

However, opinions were divided when Emma Roberts showed up in a vaguely '80s Hohan gauzy black party dress after the Globes that revealed a new side of this designer. Red Carpet Fashion Awards tsk-tsked "vampy and overwrought" while Stylebistro speculated that a recent break-up was the motive: "Nothing officially says 'I'm over you' like a sheer corset dress."

But Elle Leigh's Fashion Boudoir blog probably spoke for a lot of younger fans: "I love it. I want it. It rocks."

Gustavo Cadile

"The Newsroom's" young star Alison Pill "looked red hot in Gustavo Cadile's jersey gown featuring draped neckline and beaded waist," gushed Us Weekly's Golden Globes red-carpet online roundup.

It was a bit of a comeback for the designer, who also dressed Anjelica Huston for the event in a soft ivory metallic blouson and black evening skirt.

Born and reared in Argentina of Italian heritage, Cadile studied in Miami, bounced around various European design gigs and eventually founded a New York-based business in 2007. He subsequently was nominated as a Fashion Group Rising Star and attracted early red carpet devotees like Eva Longoria and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Now, after a break, he's re-launched his evening collection under his mother's name, "Memeka."

Celia Kritharioti

Vanity Fair UK recently heralded Greece's Celia Kritharioti as one of six couturiers to watch worldwide, and her new representation in Los Angeles yielded both "Extra" co-host Maria Menounos and "E! News" and "Fashion Police" mainstay Giuliana Rancic striding confidently down the Globes red carpet before they picked up their interviewing microphones.

Both were "looking gorgeous" said Just Jared, though Rancic had her detractors, including Fug's Heather: "I think hers is the least popular saloon in all of Deadwood."

Nonetheless, Kritharioti, a 20-year couture veteran, has more than enough experience as "Greek couturier to the stars" — and the legacy of an Athens couture house originally founded in 1906 — to adapt her lavish creations for the American market.