When you think of Haute Couture, places like London, Paris, Milan and New York typically spring to mind. However, Dubai-based designer Furne One has quickly carved out a name for himself on the world fashion stage – and today he is considered one of the most hotly anticipated designers. Joanna Andrews went to find out more.
Furne One, originally from the Philippines, started his avant garde label ‘Amato’ in Dubai in 2002 when he partnered with local textile expert Rashid Ali. “Opening a fashion house in a foreign land is not easy,” he says. “It was a big challenge but I took the risk.” He puts his success down to hard work, determination, vision – and support from his family and friends – as well as “a little luck.”
Furne started his career as an apprentice at a well-known design house in New York. He was later commissioned by Swarovski to design a bridal gown which featured in their limited edition book ‘Unbridled’. He has also appeared on Germany’s Next Top Model alongside supermodel Heidi Klum, and his bespoke creations have been worn by many celebrities including Jennifer Lopez, Katie Perry and Shakira.
Amato, which means ‘beloved’ in Italian, was inspired by the evolution of the UAE. The label was built simultaneously on similar founding principles - creative culture, eco-friendly ethics, and fair policies.
Furne, who is known for his modest, down-to-earth demeanour, says he has the full backing of his business partner, who believes in him and has encouraged him to reach his goals. He says when he first moved to Dubai he had a “very positive feeling” that Dubai and the UAE was going to be one of the world’s future fashion capitals. “It is going in that direction. The UAE has a very rich culture. You can see it everywhere from the architecture, paintings, fashion.”
His first ever collection, ‘Unveiled Soul 2004’, struck a chord with the Middle East’s fashion elite, making him an overnight sensation and his intricately detailed, hand stitched creations became ‘must-have’ items. “Emiratis have their own sense of style,” he says, “They want grandeur, they love colours, opulence and texture.”
He adds, “Meshing cultures, using the region’s rare arts, layering it with eastern and western elements, I create unique pieces for my urban and globalised clients, reflecting their personal and cultural identities.”
The Filipino designer says life itself is his inspiration, but he gives credit to the maternal elements of his life for his creative mind. “My creativity is inspired by my mother and grandmother’s quintessential style that coloured my vision,” he says. “I have always tried to create exquisite and ethereal design tempered with a silent touch of strength. My collections aren’t for the faint hearted woman, but one who is comfortable in her skin; her ensembles are but a foil to reflect her inner persona.”
He uses a lot of French dantelle, matte Swarovski crystals, duchess satin, and soft tulles to create has glittery gowns they are “very feminine and soft, but powerful… to create something a bit edgy and modern.”
His latest collection, he says, was inspirited by Victorian Age Geishas. “I fused Geisha and Marie Antoniette into one being. They have different cultures and traditions and different beliefs but they have similarities as well. One is freedom - like freedom to love and choose whom to love.”
Furne One’s elaborately embroidered bespoke ensembles have caught the attention of the world, making the Haute Couturier one of the hottest new talents in the fashion world.