The Dubai-based creator of the Amato Haute Couture label, Furne One, is the fashion designer du jour in the pop world. He has dressed an impressive roster of pop stars including Jennifer Lopez, Nicki Minaj, Shakira, Christina Milian, Lil Mama and Nicole Scherzinger. The likes of Heidi Klum, Amber Rose and Tyra Banks have also been spotted in the Filipino designer's gowns and apparently Lady Gaga is now clamouring for one of his custom-made creations.
Before all of this brouhaha, Katy Perry was the original fan. Four years ago, the pop sensation noticed Furne's elaborately embroidered designs on Heidi Klum's show, Germany's Next Top Model. The pop princess fell in love with his creative vision and soon her stylists were calling his assistants. And after Katy wore that "record-breaking dress" at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2010, she became Furne's unofficial muse.
Despite being in such demand, the haute couturier's success hasn't gone to his head. In fact, his modest, down-to-earth demeanour is a welcome breath of fresh air in the sometimes fickle world of fashion. Furne's atelier, located inside an unassuming mall (Al Hana Centre in Satwa) dazzles with racks of glittering gowns encrusted with Swarovski crystals and beads. The showroom purrs with a determined, focused energy and the designer's dedicated staff have become the busiest fashion team in town. We talk to Furne about his friendship with Katy Perry and how he made it to the top of the fashion ladder.
You designed several gowns for Katy's California Dreams Tour - was this your breakthrough moment?
Yes, I think so. Our team designed about seven or eight dresses for Katy. And she wore some of them on stage and others at after-parties. There were about 30 to 40 people in total working on all the dresses - from the tailor to the embellishment assistants. It was during this time that I started getting calls from other celebrity stylists.
Tell us about creating that "record-breaking" dress Katy Perry wore at the VMAs.
Well, it was custom-made for her. We submitted a few ideas but Katy and her stylist Johnny really liked my concept of a dress with real records on it. So we scoured Dubai for vinyl records and in the end found some in Meena Bazaar in Bur Dubai. It took about three weeks to make that particular dress. Seeing her on stage wearing it in front of such a huge audience was a real high.
When did you first watch Katy perform live?
I saw her at Madison Square Garden in New York and it was amazing. After the concert I hung out with her backstage and we went to her after-party together. I had so much fun. Besides being beautiful, Katy is humble, funny and always cheerful. I was quite overwhelmed with her warmth.
What was the inspiration behind Katy's beige gown in her Wide Awake music video?
Her song is about moving on from heartbreak and so I picked a futuristic dress from my It's Alive Fall 2012 collection. This particular gown is inspired by gothic glamour and cosmic mysticism and I think it manages to display female strength and power.
The glittering mermaid outfit you created for her haircare advertisement was stunning…
Thanks, it was shot in New York by David LaChapelle. It was an intricate custom-made piece which was split into two - a Swarovski-studded bra and then the lower part was a long turquoise and hot pink sequined tail. It was all handmade and the tail took ages to put together. I was there at the fitting and Katy told me how much she adored being a mermaid for the day.
We can't wait to see what Katy will be wearing on stage in Dubai this weekend. Can you give away any details?
Well, it's going to be a surprise. We've been given a theme. I'll be doing fittings backstage. All I can say is, expect the unexpected.
Besides raw talent, what do you think are the secrets of your success?
From the start, hard work, persistence and dedication has played a major role in where I am today. I'm determined and motivated. I would rather be designing in my studio or at a fitting somewhere than be out all the time mingling at lots of fashion parties.
Katy Perry & Usher will be performing at the World Parachuting Championships Closing Ceremony at Meydan Racecourse on Saturday. For tickets go to www.wpcconcert.ae