From a simple but nurturing home to making bold strokes in global fashion, Furne One is Cebu’s gift to the world—a symbol of Filipino pride that comes in a halo of gorgeous fabrics, shimmering beadwork and bold designs.
There is a dream-like quality to the work of Furne One (pronounced “Oh-ney”), but in this dream, there are no fairy princesses with flowers in their hair or dashing princes to sweep them off their feet. In the visions in his head, he conjures up a different kind of fantasy—of majestic women tough but beautiful, magnificent in their structured, almost architectural yet ultra feminine haute couture, burdened by fashion yet somehow liberated by it.
Fashion designer is a term that does not even begin to describe him. A craftsman and an artist both, Furne’s work shocks and awes—from his “It’s Alive” show and his collaborations with Swarovski, to the various collections showcased from Los Angeles to Dubai. Criticized as a costumer on one hand and hailed as a visionary on another, Furne’s instinct and flair for drama has nevertheless made him one of the most exciting designers to have risen in the last decade, audacious enough to throw in everything—extravagant headdresses, ostentatious appliqués and stiletto platform boots into a mix featuring winged sleeves, décolleté necklines, sharp cuts and sexy sheer fabrics.
“Furne One is known for his intricate and handcrafted gowns that are literally hard to describe in words,” wrote the LA Fashion Magazine in an article about the Furne One by Amato Couture 2012 show at LA Fashion Week, which was published online in March. “The finale was absolutely stunning,” it would also say of his pièce de résistance, a nude crystal-decorated bodysuit with arms made from tulle fabric that were meant to look like wings. “It was a masterpiece—a work of art, and much more than fashion, which is what Furne One’s show was all about. His collection was not just full of beautiful and ornate pieces—it symbolized nature, its beauty and what he felt represented this best,” the article would end.
“Growing up, I knew that I was inclined to the arts,” says Furne. “If I weren’t a fashion designer, I guess I would be a theatrical director.” This is unsurprising given his unyielding vision, as had been noted in Splash Magazine’s website how he himself is “in charge of each detail, from aesthetic of hair and makeup, to lights and music.”
“I draw inspiration from a variety of unlikely sources,” he says of his creations that are the glorious centerpieces to his overall presentations. “They range from music, cinema, gothic art, disturbing images, vintage pieces, cosmic mysticism, architecture, myths and legends, science and religion.” But even the simplest things are just as important inspirations to him, like “people, nature, my travels, old villages and even intelligent conversations.”
Anyone would fear that Furne’s broad list of influences may result in a mish-mash of one-off art pieces, but Furne always manages to deliver collections that are thematically consistent. Although his clothes seem to be out-of-this-world modern art pieces at best, it should also be noted that pop stars Shakira, Katy Perry, Jennifer Lopez, Heidi Klum, Nicole Scherzinger and, to a more flamboyant extent, Nicki Minaj have all worn Furne’s creations on the red carpet. Come to think of it, even local pop princess Sarah Geronimo has been “Furne-d.”
Deeply-Rooted Born and raised in Cebu, Furne recalls, “My childhood was fascinating and colorful. I remember I used to marvel at my mother and grandmother’s fashionable clothes, and I would always be blown away every time I saw them wearing something new. They inspired me a lot in a sense that they both have great taste—very much like today’s trendsetters. They have always been so up-to-date with the latest in fashion. I guess that counts as my very first fashion encounter.”
If his vision for fashion had been stirred at home—beginning to sketch at the tender age of ten—outside that nurturing and inspiring environment, it would be encouraged even more by other kindred souls. “My fondest memories all started in high school, with my circle of friends having exactly the same interest in fashion,” he relates. He likewise recalls them saving their allowance just to buy back issues of “our fashion bible, Vogue.”
“Surprisingly, my friends and I ended up working in the world of fashion.” Looking back, perhaps it wasn’t a surprise more than it was an answer to a calling.
Taking up fine arts with a major in advertising—as well as some courses in New York later—Furne’s biggest break in fashion was his 1994 Mega Magazine Young Designer of the Philippines Award victory. “My career was jumpstarted,” he concurs. “As part of my prize, I got to apprentice with Josie Natori, one of the judges at the time, in New York. From there, a lot of doors opened for me.” That same year, Furne would bag the first prize at Japan’s Women’s Wear Awards; just three years later, he went on to become a finalist at Manila’s Fashion Designer Awards.
Dubai Calling From Cebu to Dubai by way of Manila, Furne has traveled far, and not just in terms of his achievements. “It may sound weird but years ago, I had a dream,” he shares. “I’m talking about an actual dream, not just a figurative one. In the dream, I traveled to a far away place that looked a lot like a Middle Eastern country. The place had an air of magic and mystery, and something inside me told me this is where I should be.”
According to him, it was just less than a year later when he “heard about this place that people were starting to call the new melting pot in the Middle East. It didn’t take a lot of convincing for me to move to Dubai.” But while he has been re-establishing his roots in an emirate located southeast of the Persian Gulf on the Arabian Peninsula, Furne has never forgotten his humble beginnings. “Coming from a small island, I was given the chance to dress up A-list celebrities,” he muses now, recalling the “unexpected standing ovations and awards” he’d received with wonderment.
Still, even a courageous creator such as Furne isn’t immune to some missteps, if critics can be believed. One of them is Agenda Online magazine writer Kaylene Peoples, who declared Furne as “just a self-proclaimed artisan” and that his Spring 2012 collection shown at Vibiana during LA Fashion Week last January was “more of a costume line than anything realistically wearable in the real world.” She goes on to talk about “the parade of D-list models” on the catwalk—some of which sported face-constricting headgear—and the “less than worthy stitching of these garments.” Nevertheless, she conceded that must have gone wrong for the collection was its “presentation, or lack thereof,” where the clothes were showcased in a less-than-theatrical setting than they called for.
Just the same, mixed reviews and negative criticism are not uncommon, especially in fashion where views can often be subjective and murmurs are not always constructive. Even the greatest minds can use some room to learn—it is, after all, the only way to get better. Self-assured, Furne notes almost defiantly, “Good and bad reviews are my memorable achievements.”
The Path to Greatness A brief overview of his feat would reveal the opening of his first boutique Amato, which means beloved, in Dubai in 2002. From here, he supplies his elite clientele of Eastern World royalty with an array of hand-stitched designs and intricately detailed creations. Amato’s success would land Furne a commissioned project from Swarovski in 2007, for which he created a staggeringly glittered bridal dress to grace the limited edition book “Unbridaled.” His collaboration with Swarovski continued to be celebrated with show-stopping collections for the Crystallized Swarovski Elements events.
By 2008, Furne’s work would the toast of European fashion elite, thanks to his exposure on “Germany’s Next Top Model,” where he was invited as a special guest designer for the show’s season finale. The tremendous response to the work showcased there would have him featured for three more years thereafter, rocketing Furne One and Amato Couture into the international fashion spotlight that would soon win him his celebrity clientele.
Furne has been described as “unstoppable,” praised for articulating a mix of edginess and glamour in his aesthetics that he showed at the Perth Fashion Week earlier this year. Blogger Ushi Sato of www.theshadesandscarf.com would also note Furne’s strong desire to stand out as an original and to “create thunder in silence.”
His show in Perth was made up of stunning pieces with slender silhouettes and incredible beading, with models who had big platinum blonde wigs adorned with dazzling headpieces or spiked crowns, and sparkling shoes. Donna Ferreri of Perth’s www.stylehunter.com would gush, “Furne One has produced the most exquisite show I have possibly ever seen. My eyes are still blinded from the mere sight of the thousands upon thousands of crystals and jewels that adorned the fabulous garments that shimmied and shone down the catwalk as part of the ‘Mata-Hari’ collection.”
Indeed, if this is Furne speaking in silence, he is managing to do so in a voice that can no longer be ignored.
The Future Demands “Like any other designer, I started to work for other fashion houses to experience the tricks and trade of the business,” he points out, underscoring the fact that things can’t just be left to chance. “It’s a tough battle, but patience, hard work, determination and a little bit of luck kept me going—so I could earn my way to where I am now.”
He forgets to list sheer guts and inborn talent to his formula for success, but that much is evident, whether it is articulated or not. Undeniably, Furne’s name will only grow bigger in the global fashion arena as his collections expand and his creations take their unstoppable flight. This year, Furne marks a new milestone in his illustrious career, following the monumental opening of Furne One and Amato Couture boutiques in Los Angeles, with plans to further expand.
Being described as a “Global Pinoy” only makes Furne proud. But while many would agree that local fashion could actually become a voice in global design, homegrown designers with talent and creativity face certain challenges that could hamper that growth. For his part, Furne notes that “government support to send young and talented Filipino designers abroad” is what’s needed. He adds, “We can also open more fashion schools to help broaden and educate young design aspirants,” and wishes them financial support as well. “I believe the Filipino is very talented. We have so much to offer.”
We asked him what his clothes would say if they could speak and Furne quips, “Look at me!”
Indeed, here’s looking at you, Furne. We celebrate your very bright future, and the trail you have blazed for other Cebuanos and the Filipinos in general. If there’s anything his success can teach us, it’s the fact that if you are bold enough, you can dream it; and if you can dream it, you can make it true.
- by Annie S. Alejo
- photography Tina Patni
- hair and make up Gene Ginno Alducente
- couture Seduction of Mata-Hari Collection by Furne One
LADY CYCLISTS HIT THE ROADS AND SLOPES OF CEBU.
Cycling has been a growing sport and hobby for many years but it’s popularity has erupted since the Covid pandemic. People biking to work and for recreation is an everyday sight in Cebu. More and more are joining the ride. Many are quite serious about cycling. I know three ladies who are among those who’ve gone long distances across Cebu.
How did you get into serious cycling? What was your motivation?
Blinky de Leon. Event Host, Product Endorser & Influencer
“ I’ve been into cycling since I was a kid. A little backstory, I was around 10 years old when my dad surprised me with my first custom-made mountain bike. I still keep it until now, in fact I had it refurbished. It’s the most sentimental thing I ever received since it was his way/gesture to catch up with me after not seeing each other for almost 6 yrs. My dad is based in Germany and he also loves cycling and makes his own bamboo bike.”
“Just a year ago though, my friend Gazini randomly, out of nowhere, picked me up from home to bike with her to the South of Cebu. I felt really excited and motivated to get back on track because it’s very nostalgic and brings back so many great memories. And since then, the rest was history. We’ve been joining different groups, tried different routes and conquered different heights. I’ve met so many cyclists with very inspiring stories in the bike community who kept me feeling motivated too. I also look forward to the sights and the adventure that comes along with it.”
Yumz Mariot. Branding & Marketing Consultant
“I used to bike along with rock and wall climbing. I am lousy with ballgames which is why. Our usual route were Talamban and Mactan but one time, managed to ship gears all the way to Dumaguete for a quick ride to Valencia, the next town located at a higher elevation. Those were days when I did it for fun and what bike I was using did not matter.”
“Fast forward to 2021, a year after the pandemic lockdown began, I realized I have been lazy to do any fitness routine. Too caught up on juggling between house chores and Work from Home deliverables (I work as a Branding and Marketing Consultant), I started to feel my body needs to move as much as my brain does. A hysical fitness routine is as important as what I eat, or what I read or watch. So I decided to invest on a decent MTB, just very recently and got myself a much necessary restart. What motivates me even more is the area where I currently reside at. It is vast, fresh, green and safe for solo bikers like me.”
Prime Sarino. Digital Media Creative
“I started biking as a young teenager and I got the idea to start it as an adult hobby 3 years ago. I was already into running and I thought it would be great to venture into another outdoor activity to keep me occupied after work hours and weekends. I was set to travel for a year so I had to put aside the idea first but came pandemic. We were all forced to stay put and everything was put on hold. Cycling became my diversion. My cyclists friends invited me to quick and short rides. I enjoyed my first 50km ride and the sceneries and routes most of all. It also helped channel a positive mindset during the hard hit season of the pandemic. Not to mention it’s also another way to stay fit when we were forced into inactivity during the quarantine.”
Next in Part 2, we ask the ladies about their cycling experiences and memorable moments…
#CebuPride: Cebuanos in Multi-awarded Pride-Themed Films
Multi-awarded International Gay Movies with Cebuano Lead Casts
By: Allain Dumon Fonte
Pride-themed movies are starting to invade the film industry as people become more accepting and are more intrigued on the stories about LGBTIQ. Many have shared the intensity of emotions and laughed with the craziest jokes on gay-themed movies. In the Philippines, these kinds of movies were questioned as to their morality and their message to the society. The strong influence of the country’s religious standards had branded gay-themed movies as sex-oriented and nothing more. Yet, with Thailand’s more tolerant culture, Thai BL (Boy’s Love) movies and television series have created a new perception to the viewers; and that is gay-themed movies are remarkably alike to all other movies – there is romance, comedy, drama, and the continuing struggle of living like normal people. Hence, Thai BL TV series have a massive following all over Asia. At the end of 2019, they became available in Netflix and are being watched by millions of viewers all over the world.
The Philippine film industry is not that far from Thailand’s. Some of the LGBTIQ-themed movies and television series are slowly getting a following in Asia and are now accessible to viewers worldwide. A few of these pride-themed movies that casted or directed by a Filipino have already been receiving nominations and awards from Golden Globe, The Berlin Film Festival, the Venezia Film Awards, and even the Emmy’s…and the Filipinos in these films hail their roots from Cebu!
1. Lingua Franca
Lingua Franca is a film directed by a Cebuana, Isabel Sandoval. Sandoval also plays the main character of the movie, and she even wrote the screenplay. Lingua Franca tells the story of Olivia, an undocumented transgender woman in New York who works as a caregiver to a senile old-lady of Russian-decent. When Olivia is challenged to attain legal status in the US, she is left with a “marriage-based green card”. While in search for her groom-to-be, she becomes romantically involved with Alex, Olga’s grandson.
The film is now available on Netflix and has received positive reviews from the media. Stephen Dalton of the Hollywood Reporter wrote Lingua Franca is a “heartfelt personal statement rooted in timely, gripping issues that obviously resonate deeply with its author, notably trans rights and Trump-era immigration anxieties”.
Isabel Sandoval graduated summa cum laude with the degree in psychology from the University of San Carlos in Cebu, Philippines. In New York, she pursued graduate studies in Film at NYU. She is now currently residing in NYC, and already has award-winning films under her belt like Apparition, Lingua Franca, Senorita, Ritwal, The Unstoppable, and Judgement.
2. The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
This television series was aired in Netflix and has gained so much popularity because it showed the murder of world-renowned fashion designer, Gianni Versace, by a serial killer, Andrew Cunanan. Based on Maureen Orth’s book Vulgar Favors: Andrew Cunanan, Gianni Versace, and the Largest Failed Manhunt in U.S. History, this television series has 9 episodes of suspenseful scenes, and is star-studded with casts like Ricky Martin and Penelope Cruz. However, the main actor who played Andrew Cunanan is Darren Criss who gained his popularity after being a regular on the top rating TV show, Glee. Darren Criss hails his roots from Cebu, Philippines.
The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story received positive reviews from critics. At the 70th Primetime Emmy Awards, it received 9 nominations, and won 3 awards, including Outstanding Limited Series and Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie for Darren Criss.
Criss was born and raised in San Francisco, California, USA. Criss was raised as a Roman Catholic and attended roman catholic schools. He later moved to Michigan where he studied Bachelor of Fine Arts major in Theatre Performance and minor in music at the University of Michigan. Criss’s father, Charles William Criss, is a banker and served as CEO of the East West bank in Honolulu, Hawaii. Criss’s mom, Cerina, is a native of Talisay, Cebu, Philippines. When he was younger, he visited Cebu a couple of times with his mother. Darren Criss is very proud of his Cebuano roots and wants to portray Filipino characters in films and in theatres to promote visibility of the Filipinos in the American films.
3. The Amazing Truth About Queen Raquela
The Amazing Truth About Queen Raquela premiered at the 2008 Berlin International Film Festival where it grabbed the Teddy Award for Best Feature Film. It was also awarded the Grand Jury Prize in the 10th 2008 Cinemanila International Film Festival at Malacañang Palace’s Kalayaan Hall. It starred Raquela Rios also known as Minerva to her Cebuano friends. Raquela is a local of Mandaue City, Cebu, Philippines. The film is directed by Icelandic film director, scriptwriter, and producer, Olaf de Fleur Johannesson.
Raquella Rios is a native of Mandaue City, Cebu, Philippines, and she went to the University of San Carlos in Cebu, studying sociology and anthropology. Before finishing her studies, Raquella left the Cebu and went to Iceland after being casted by Icelandic film director, scriptwriter, and producer, Olaf de Fleur Johannesson for the movie The Amazing Truth About Queen Raquela. She is now based in Bangkok, Thailand as a fashion stylist and wardrobe assistant to some local Thai movies. Raquella is also an activist for sex workers rights and trans rights in Southeast Asia; pushing for the recognition on the choice of their gender and the right to change their birth names.
There are still plenty of pride-themed films in the Philippines that gained recognition all over the world; yet these movies mentioned are special because of the talented Cebuanos that have brought Cebu to world. They truly are #CebuPride.
37 Years of High Fashion; Arcy Gayatin leaves a Legacy of Edginess and Elegance
Arcy Gayatin: A Legacy of Luxury in Fabrication
By: Allain Dumon Fonte
The brand Arcy Gayatin gave the Queen City of the South a distinct reputation in the fashion industry. The fashion line of Arcy Gayatin sets the bar higher each year for clothing luxury and fabrication techniques.
Araceli “Arcy” Ancajas Gayatin is the daughter Galileo Ancajas and Remedios Zanoria Ancajas who founded Cebu’s home brand, Gal’s Bakery. Arcy went to the University of San Carlos and studied Political Science. And just like Dr. Muccia Prada, who completed her Ph.D. in Political Science and established the luxury line of Prada, Arcy also got in touch with her artistic side and started her own fashion line. However, it was not Prada that influenced Arcy. Arcy was introduced to fashion and tailoring at a very young age by her mother, Madame Remedios Anacajas whom they dearly call Mama Eme. Mama Eme was running a tailoring business back then. It was called Arabel; named after Arcy and her sister Belma. Ara from Araceli and Bel from Belma. In those years, Arcy was fascinated by fabrics and was intrigued by how to manipulate the fabrics to come up with fashion-forward designs without compromising comfort and taste.
After 37 years of creating haute couture pieces for the most fashionable personalities in the Philippines, Arcy Gayatin is now laying down her sketchpads and pens to rest. As she enjoys her retirement, may be on a cruise to the Bahamas or a holiday to the Swiss Alps, Arcy Gayatin has left the fashion industry a legacy of elegant and edgy clothing ensembles that understand and define the shape of women; without compromising comfort and good taste.
To salute the lady who brought Cebu fashion to the world, a retrospective exhibition of Arcy’s incomparable masterpieces can be seen today at Ayala Center Cebu’s The Gallery; curated by fashion editor and writer, Clint Holton Potestas, and interior and fashion designer, Jul Oliva.
BALANCE. Arcy Gayatin is known for her perfect symmetrical lines when fabricating. She knows how to balance edginess and class; understanding well the strength and the finesse of a woman.
RHYTHM. Arcy’s expertise in draping and fabric manipulation can be seen in how she achieves rhythm between architectural lines and soft fabrics like silk and cashmere.
TEXTURE. With her thorough knowledge on fabrics, Arcy Gayatin has achieved the perfection of fabrication by working on different types of fabrics and creating a single piece of art out of them.
HARMONY. The simplicity of the silhouette plus the intricacy of the details create a wonderful harmony, making Arcy Gayatin’s design a one-of-a-kind masterpiece.
The photos below show an up-close look at the intricacy and the exquisite craftsmanship of Arcy Gayatin’s fabrication techniques:
THE SPIDER WEB: one of Arcy’s genius fabrication techniques.
MATCH and PATCH: Arcy’s unique fabrication craft by patching layers of different types of lace and lace patterns
PLEATS: The perfection of symmetry in pleats on silk.
LA ROSE BLEUE: U.P. student, Danielle Alessandra Deutsch, inspired by the artistry of Arcy Gayatin, designed this midnight blue dress. The cabbage rose made from layers of silk organdy gave this evening ensemble a romantic appeal.
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LADY CYCLISTS HIT THE ROADS AND SLOPES OF CEBU.