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Furne One wows LA crowd

Los Angeles Fashion Week opened with Mayor Eric Garcetti gracing the event and declaring, “Watch out New York and Paris, here comes LA Fashion Week!”

LA Fashion Week, which this year ran March 9-18 for fall collections, was held throughout the Los Angeles area with various producers holding events including Style Fashion Week, Project Ethos, Los Angeles Fashion Council, CONCEPT and Africa Fashion Week Los Angeles.

After five seasons at Vibiana last year, Style Fashion Week Los Angeles, the premier event at LA Fashion Week, was moved this year to the 42,000 square ft Event Deck at L.A. Live in downtown Los Angeles.

Some of the highlights of the event included designs by Betsey Johnson, Michael Costello, Tatyana Designs, Ina Soltani, Vanwolff, Skinny Bikini Swimwear, Civil Society, Quynh Paris among others with Furne One closing the said event.

Furne One, the Filipino fashion designer based in Dubai, wowed the LA fashionista crowd recently at Style Fashion Week Los Angeles.

Furne (short for Fernando, his real name is Fernando Barrios) One (pronounced “Oh-ney”), who was born in Cebu, Philippines and went to the University of San Carlos, showcased a 24-piece collection, which he calls his “Victorian Geisha” collection.

“I was inspired by the geishas in Tokyo, Japan when I went there for a vacation,” the blonde-haired soft-spoken designer said. “It made me think what kind of life does a geisha have. I feel that the geisha is not free just like Marie Antoinette. They both want freedom. They have a similar life.”

For the fashion show, Furne not only designed the dress but also the accessories and the shoes. “I envisioned the total look,” he said.

So we saw models with hair shaped like cones, wearing pale make-up and kimono-inspired dresses and gowns in pastel hues of pink, blue or light orange made of French lace and accented by Swarovski crystals. Everything was grandiose, dramatic and theatrical. You can see that Furne really pays attention to details as he even puts little teddy bears on the kimonos or makes his models wear Japanese umbrellas and the traditional Japanese sandals or geta on the runway.

Furne, who has a degree in Bachelor of Fine Arts (“because there was no fashion design courses then”), dreamt of becoming a fashion designer at the age of 15.

“I was inspired by my mother and grandmother, who are both fashionistas,” he disclosed. “They inspired me to become a fashion designer. Every time they went to parties, they really dressed up and I love watching them dress up. They are the fashionistas of their time.”

Furne got his big break in 1994 when he joined the 1st Mega Magazine Young Designers Competition where he bagged the first prize that was a trip to Paris and New York. Well-known Filipina fashion designer, Josie Natori, CEO and founder of New York-based The Natori Company, was one of the judges and was really impressed with Furne’s work that she asked him to work for her.

Furne trained for a while in Paris and then went to New York where he worked as an apprentice in The Natori Company.

“Josie Natori became my mentor and my friend,” Furne disclosed.

So how did he end up in Dubai, we asked.

“A friend of mine called me and told me to try Dubai and I liked Dubai,” he revealed. “There are a lot of opportunities in Dubai. It is the melting pot of the Middle East because there are many nationalities there. There are a lot of business opportunities and a lot to learn in Dubai.”

In Dubai, Furne started working for a company designing clothes for wealthy Arab women and soon he opened his own atelier, Amato (meaning “beloved”) Couture with Rashid Ali as his managing director. Furne’s high-end fashion designs are known for its exquisitely intricate hand stitching and beadwork.

We asked Furne what challenges he experienced as a Filipino designer working in mainstream and he said, “To prove that I can deliver on time. I have to do my best.”

For aspiring young fashion designers, Furne has the following advice: “You should have the vision which is very important because once you have the vision; you already know how to achieve it.”

He added, “Of course, there should also be hard work and determination.”

Asked if he hangs out with other designers, Furne confessed, “I do not go to parties and I do not hang out. I have my own set of friends.”

Furne disclosed that when not designing or travelling, he relaxes by watching movies. “I watch all kinds of movies,” he said. “In fact, I watched all the nominated movies and my favorite is Blue Jasmine.’”

Furne, who has dressed up Hollywood celebrities like Katy Perry, Jennifer Lopez, Shakira, Heidi Klum, Nicole Scherzinger, Nicki Minaj, among others, admitted that if ever he had a choice to dress up a Hollywood actress, he would love to dress up Cate Blanchett and Nicole Kidman.

He explained, “I would love to dress up Cate because she is not afraid to try new things and Nicole because she is so beautiful.”

By Janet R. Nepales

Furne One, the Filipino fashion designer based in Dubai, wowed the LA fashionista crowd recently at Style Fashion Week Los Angeles March 9-18 at...