First look: Furne One's inaugural menswear line is inspired by India

Here's a sneak peek of the new collection from the Filipino designer, who's usually celebrated for making glamorous gowns

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After 20 years, Furne One is ready to take his brand in a new direction. The Filipino designer, who has dressed leading ladies such as Beyonce, Katy Perry and Jennifer Lopez through his Amato Couture label, is launching his first fully fledged menswear line.

One, who founded his label in Dubai with business partner Rashid Ali in 2002, four years after arriving in the UAE, says it's always been his dream to design a collection for men.

"The time wasn't right and there wasn't really a demand for it beforehand," he tells The National. "But now, Dubai has changed so much and there are so many men who love to get dressed up and are willing to experiment.

"Dubai is different in many ways when it comes to fashion. There's a kind of artsy vibe. And, that's exactly where I see my label."

The new collection, to be showcased at Arab Fashion Week in Dubai on Thursday, is inspired by India. It's a country One says he fell in love with after his travels across Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Goa and Agra to see the Taj Mahal in 2019.

"I was so inspired by the colours. Everywhere, there are bright colours ... deep reds, beautiful blues ... and all very festive," he says. "And, I absolutely love the culture. The people are so warm and friendly everywhere."

Through 33 pieces, One's vivid collection reinterprets traditional Indian silhouettes and mixes them with contemporary ones. In one piece, a bright blue oversized bomber jacket is paired with a bulbous trouser, inspired by dhotis traditionally worn by men in some parts of India. There are also pleated skirts, a nod to sarong-line robes worn in many parts of South India, paired with bright hoodies. Turbans in various shades also feature heavily in the collection.

"I've taken vintage India and put my modern twist on it," One says. "I used a lot of Indian silk and mixed it with laces. So you'll also see a lot of beaded shirts and lots of sequins and lots of solid colours."

Furne One says his first full menswear collection is inspired by India. Photo: Pawan Singh / The National

The Amato man, he explains, is in his twenties.

"He's very trendy and he's not afraid to experiment," he says. "He's also very creative and loves to travel and explore new things."

One, who began his career designing wedding dresses for well-heeled Gulf women, first earned international fame after he appeared on the reality show Germany's Next Topmodel hosted by Heidi Klum in 2008. It was here he met Perry, who was so impressed by his work that she asked him to create looks for her California Dreams world tour, which spanned 124 shows between 2011 and 2012.

His dresses have since been worn by a host of Hollywood stars as well as Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Katrina Kaif from Bollywood.

Designer Furne One at his studio in the Dubai Design District. Photo: Pawan Singh / The National

Four years ago, in a departure from his glittering gowns, One launched a ready-to-wear line for women under his Amato label.

The reception has been "promising", he says, with plans for more collections to come.

But for now, it's the menswear line taking all his attention.

"The plan is to expand the line, including shoes, bags and maybe add a sportswear and a perfume line," he says.

"I've had a few menswear in my past collections. But this is the first full collection and I can't wait to see what everyone thinks of it."

For someone who landed in Dubai in 1998 while on transit from New York City, and later decided to stay, he says his success has been tied to the city's growth in many ways.

"I am so proud to see Dubai emerging as an international fashion hub," he says. "Amato has always been a label that's not afraid to experiment, that's strong and does not follow the dictates of fashion. And it's dramatic. My brand and Dubai are similar in so many ways.

What is an Amato muse?

Sajad Pourhasan, the Amato 'muse'. Photo: Tejaswi Ghagada

If you've seen any of One's shows or his promotional campaigns, you'll see a familiar face front and centre. Iranian model Sajad Pourhasan was selected as the designer's muse for his international appeal, says the designer.

"We chose him because we feel people in this region can relate to him — he can be Arab, Indian or Persian when he wears our clothes," he says.

Pourhasan, 28, first came to Dubai five years ago looking to make it in the modelling world. But unable to find the kind of work he wanted, he had almost given up on his dreams and planned to return home when he went to audition for one of One's shows two years ago.

"There were projects but not a steady flow, and it was not easy. But after my association with Amato, everything has changed for me," he says. "I now have more assignments coming my way and being the face of such an well-loved brand is just amazing."

The plan, he says, is to go international.

"I would love to be in Milan, London, Paris and New York. That's the dream. And, I think being in Dubai will take me there," he says.

Filipino designer Furne One opens Arab Fashion Week Menswear with his Ambush collection — in pictures

Updated: June 30, 2022, 9:22 AM