“Being creative here is a blessing. It’s the melting pot of the Middle East; you have so many nationalities and inﬂuences, but also the adequate resources to make beautiful creations. The artists, the beaders, the embroiderers… they’re all here. And for me, as someone who loves to create dramatic, romantic and artistic pieces for my brand, Amato, it’s perfect.
At the end of the day, though, it’s a business. It’s not just all glamour and photo shoots – you’ve got to sell your stuff and be able to pay the bills. Fashion Forward has helped with that, speciﬁ cally with my branding – it’s all about the branding. It’s such a good platform for young designers to showcase their collections. I’ve completed 10 whole seasons with them now, working with them since the very beginning. I knew the founder, Bong Guerrero, from before it had even started.
For me, my breakthrough moment was when I won an award in the Philippines for Young Designer of the Year. I got to travel to New York and Paris and do internships, which was where I saw the real fashion industry – both sides of it. New York is very business-minded and Paris is all about art and lifestyle. Then a friend of mine said, ‘What about Dubai?’ So I dropped by, loved it and stayed!
I hand-make everything locally, from the beading to the cutting, but I order my fabrics from Paris or Switzerland. I think being different is the secret to a successful brand; having your own ideas. And really knowing your craft. That’s why I think the doors opened for me to start dressing celebrities. I did Katy Perry’s California Dreams tour, and after that came Jennifer Lopez, Lady Gaga, Shakira and Beyoncé.
A real highlight for me, though, has been opening my stores here. I now have two; both in d3, one for couture and one for ready-to-wear.”
From Harper's Bazaar Arabia October 2019 Issue