Dubai Designer Launches Tour in Scottsdale
Fashion lovers, learn to say this: Fern Oh-nay. Now learn to recognize this name in print: Furne One.
The internationally acclaimed Dubai-based designer, who creates elaborate, Swarovski crystal-encrusted gowns, is in high demand. And he will be in Scottsdale on Oct. 26 for the first of 10 stops for Noir Partie Trois: Espionage En Couture to benefit the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation and Arizona Spinal Cord Injury Association.
One was born and grew up in the Philippines, fascinated by the beautiful clothes his mother and grandmother wore. He knew from an early age that he wanted to be a designer (though his mother wanted him to be an accountant and his father thought he'd make a fine engineer). His sisters didn't care what he became, as long as he kept producing amazing prom dresses for them.
When he broke onto the scene in 1994 by winning the MEGA Young Designer of the Philippines, he stepped onto something of a fast track to recognition and success. The award caught the attention of the design house of Josie Natori, where One gained an apprenticeship. That was followed by the first prize at Japan’s Women’s Wear Awards, and three years later being a finalist at Manila’s Fashion Designer Awards. In 2002 he opened his first boutique in Dubai, Amato, and in 2007 began to work with Swarovski, with whom he is now under contract. His creations are available in the U.S. by online order.
He credits Heidi Klum with his next significant breakthrough. Her stylist had seen his catalogues and liked his work. Klum’s team flew One to Germany to dress the finalists for “Germany’s Next Top Model” reality show. There, he met celebrity judges Katy Perry and Kylie Minogue. Perry commissioned him to dress her for her California Dream world tour this year. His appearance on the Top Model show was such a success that he was resigned for three more years and is currently working with Klum on this season’s show.
Katy Perry in creation by Furne One
Other celebrities and performers have joined the One bandwagon: Jennifer Lopez, Shakira, Minaj and Nicole Scherzinger. In the “Dirty Dancer” video, Enrique Iglesia wore one of his creations. Lady Gaga will be next. Who else would he like to dress? Cate Blanchett. “She’s not afraid to experiment,” One says. “Sometimes she wears something very simple; sometimes something very over-the-top. If I dressed her, it wouldn’t be very simple!”
Furne One with one of the models at Perth Fashion Week
One’s appearance, accomplishments and love of everything that sparkles belie his sweet, almost shy, and certainly humble, demeanor. He recognizes the role of hard work in his success, but doesn’t discount the value of luck and timing. “I was in the right place at the right time,” One says.
Why Dubai? “A friend invited me for a vacation in Dubai. I went for a week and have stayed 14 years. I really love the place. It’s a new city, and Middle Eastern women like elaborate designs in opulent colors.”
He also notes that there is less competition.
Not that One couldn’t have survived it. Before the recession, his shop was making 80 to 100 gowns a month. Today, his 200 or so employees turn out about 70 each month. These are hand-sewn gowns with elaborate crystal beading and sometimes threadwork mixed with the crystals. One doesn’t take shortcuts with the crystals by using clips to hold them. He sews a casing and glues them in place.
Some gowns seem more “art” than wearable design, especially when coupled with his large, intricate, headpieces. And that’s what One intends. “When I make a collection, some pieces aren’t for selling. Some are for keeping.”
Noir Partie Trois
Guests at the Oct. 26 Noir Partie Trois in Scottsdale AirCenter can expect an entertaining evening that is as much spectacular production as runway show, featuring One’s spring 2013 Line Confession of Mata-Hari, A Tribute to McQueen.
At top, fashions from One's new collection
Text by Cindy Miller
Photos courtesy Furne One