Fashion couturier and co-founder of AMATO Couture and AMATO Luxe celebrates twenty five years in the industry.
Furne One was part of the UAE’s fashion industry when it barely even existed twenty five years ago. Moving from his home country of the Philipines, the designer launched his brand AMATO Couture in 2002 and has since come to be one of the region’s most recognised names.
His distinct style of Avant Garde, out-of-the-box runway shows and statement-making designs are individual and undeniably reflective of the designer’s unique style. Furne One has created a niche brand in the region with AMATO. He has a very clear image of inspiring women with designs that don’t follow trends but create their own trends instead.
To celebrate 25 year benchmark, he created an anniversary collection that embodies the story of the brand over the last two decades. For the presentation of this collection, he travelled back to his home country, for an extravagant show in Manila. The fall/winter 18 collection titled Thy Will Be Done included 60 looks for men and women and was presented with a runway show featuring some of the country’s biggest celebrities and models.
After the hype of this show Furne One returned to Dubai to start working on his next projects. Amongst the madness A&E caught up with him to reflect on the last 25 years and imagine what the next two decades will bring for AMATO Couture.
You’re celebrating 25 years in the industry – what has been your greatest achievement so far?
For me, still being relevant after 25 years is a great achievement. Fashion trends change quickly and dramatically so being able to relate to different audiences from different ages with changing tastes is a fulfilling achievement.
How has the fashion industry in the Middle East changed since you began?
It has drastically changed, I must say. A lot of young talents came into in the industry in the last 4-5 years, which is great. Artistry is in the forefront. Designers are more liberal in their designs and they are not afraid to express themselves compared to when I started.
What would you like to see happen next in the region?
To be part of the top four fashion capitals of the world. Exposure to the global stage. There are a lot of talented designers in the Middle East that need a break to enter the mainstream fashion world. I think this revolution already started as we are seeing Middle Eastern brands designing clothes for A-List celebrities, popstars and VIPs. We need to continue helping Middle Eastern designers gain momentum on the global fashion stage.
Would you ever consider the move to Paris or one of the other big fashion cities?
Honestly no. I am content working in Dubai because Dubai has given me a lot of opportunities to grow my business. This city has given me so much and I believe I can grow more together with the city.
What can you tell us about your 25th anniversary collection?
I am extremely happy to be back home in Manila to celebrate a milestone in my career. It all started in Manila when MEGA magazine launched a competition ‘Young Designer of the Year’, the first ever fashion design competition in Philippines’ mainstream media. I was proclaimed the grand winner. The collection was inspired by my journey in the fashion business, the rollercoaster ride of my 25 years in the industry. This collection represents my successes and failures, the beauty of life and the immortality of my artistic influences in one stage. Not to mention, this is one of the most expensive and biggest (in number) collections AMATO has staged. We showcased 60 couture pieces worth more than 1 million USD.
How do you go about designing a collection that represents 25 years in the industry?
It’s retrospective. The collection is the summary of my fashion journey. I am in love with life. Each piece celebrates a point in my life; happy, exciting, loving and thrilling moments of it.
From the last 25 years do you have a favourite design or collection?
ALL are my favourites because it all came out from my heart and soul.
You have dressed so many amazing women – is there anyone you would love to dress that you haven’t had the chance yet?
There are so many on my list but I would love to know who are the women who would like to see themselves wearing an AMATO dress? In that way I will know who are the people who truly believe in my work aesthetic.
Do you think your home country has influenced your brand?
Yes, somehow. The Philippines is a rich country especially with natural resources but lacks fancy materials for clothing but this doesn’t hurdle designers to produce masterpieces out of available resources. The Philippines is one of the freest countries in the world for people to express themselves and this helps me a lot when I’m exploring and expressing my artistry. The people are open-minded and free-thinking.
How would you identify the AMATO woman?
The AMATO woman; elegant, avant-garde and experimental – someone who is not afraid to defy the norms and set the trend.
Your shows are always theatrical and spectacular – how do you go about planning the theme?
It just pops out of my head all of a sudden depending on my mood and emotion. I am a very sensitive person and I always put my artistry on the forefront.
How do you think you differ from your competitors?
I don’t compete with anyone else, I just compete with myself but the brand AMATO represents passion for couture, the designs are fearless, out-of-the-box, unconventional yet outstandingly chic. We don’t follow a certain trend, we set the trend.
What can we expect from you over the next 25 years?
Business expansion. More mainstream reach with my AMATO Luxe (pret-a-porter) line. I will not stop dreaming and designing, that’s for sure.
For you, what makes an iconic couture brand?
Consistency and passion. Identity is very important, as a designer you should know who you are and what you want.
Who do you look to for inspiration?
Not a specific person but LIFE in general. I love life and mankind. It sounds cliché but the uniqueness in each individual; the way we live our life. The way we think and the way we act gives me so much inspiration and admiration.
Which designers do you admire?
I admire all designers because I respect their visions and ideas.
When you’re not working where do you go to switch off?
Travel. I love going to Europe.
Tell us something about yourself that no one knows.
I don’t like sleeping at all. I sleep 3-4 hours a day, maximum. I’m more creative from night until dawn.