Anne Fanganello isn't afraid to shake up the status quo with her fashion. Her two lines — the couture AnnaFesta and athletic FestaSports — aim to make women of all shapes and sizes, especially plus sizes, feel confident and comfortable in their own skin. Fanganello herself has overcome many adversities, including breast cancer, which helped shape her into the strong designer and woman she is today. In advance of the Whiteout fashion show at Artopia, set for February 25 at City Hall, we talked with Fanganello about what inspires her designs, how she got her start in the fashion industry, and why she creates cute curvy clothes for real women.
Westword: What inspired you to become a fashion designer? How long have you been designing clothes and accessories?
Anne Fanganello: I have been designing since I was thirteen. My grandmothers and mother all sewed, and I learned from them. My favorite thing was when my grandmother would appliqué butterflies to my jeans when the knees ripped out when I was little.
How would you describe your aesthetic and style in three words?
Colorful, perfect fit.
What's your background in fashion design?
I started in Denver and attended the Career Education Center for high school, where I learned to make patterns. I worked at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, sewing costumes, through high school. I went to the University of Colorado Boulder for costume design. I lived in Italy and Switzerland and got a fashion-design degree from the Istituto di Moda in Florence, Italy.
I moved to New York City as fast as I could! New York fashion was my heaven. I worked with the greatest. While with Nanette Lepore, I helped to open the flagship boutique in NoHo, did the very first runway show with her at Seventh on Sixth at Bryant Park and grew the company exponentially at Nanette's side. As the company grew, we split into design and production divisions. I was head of all production. I moved to Zac Posen and was chief operating officer of his company. During this time, I developed breast cancer, which threw me for a loop, to say the least! I decided to move back to my family in Denver to live a healthier lifestyle. Twenty years in New York City was awesome and fabulous; my life now in Denver is a new chapter. I love it here, and having my own design company is thrilling and challenging.
Who or what inspires your fashion sense?
Women! All women! I love to work with shape and curves. The female body is gorgeous, and I approach my designs as an architect would approach designing a building. My final design is all about making the female form stand out and holler, "I am beautiful!" I want to inspire confidence and strength in every woman.
Which outfit will make me smile today? I love dressing for joy, so as I get dressed I am very aware of what I feel happiest in for that event or moment in time.
Hot Pink! Shocker! I love the color Shocking Pink from Elsa Schiaparelli. In my history of costume and fashion classes, I learned about this color and it has been my favorite ever since.
Hair bling! I love a fun hair accessory to top off an outfit.
Where do you shop for fashion, or do you make all of your own clothing?
If you see me, I am in AnnaFesta or FestaSports. I never shop for clothing anymore. Now, with shoes — that is a different story.
A Beautiful Life —in Italian with no subtitles. It brings tears and laughter. It's an emotional roller coaster.
What is your favorite song right now, or your jam of the moment?
Anything by Lizzo: She is a positive force for all women. And she makes me spin ’round and ’round with joy.
How do the brands AnnaFesta and FestaSports differ, and how are they similar?
FestaSports was developed due to the lack of athletic clothing for larger sizes. With AnnaFesta, women are able to buy clothing that fits their curves and is made specifically for their body type. FestaSports does the same thing for athletic clothing. We fit on a size 16 body and then develop the other sizes from there. Most brands work from a size 6. By the time the garments are made in size 18, they are distorted and do not fit the curves properly. Both collections are created with curves in mind. AnnaFesta runs from size 2 to 28. FestaSports runs from size XS to 3X. #love your body and #loveeverybody are my taglines. Both collections are about having beautiful clothes that function and are fashion-forward.
Do you consider fashion an art form?
Absolutely! Color, shape, texture, form — all of this comes together to create emotions and show our individual personality. Fashion is the way that you can show your insides on the outside with your own artistic creation.
What can people expect from your presentation at Artopia 2017?
Fun, fun, fun! I love to put on a show. This year is no exception. This year the collection is about female unity and power. We are all about the "squad" and supporting our sisters. We are each individuals, but as a team, we are unstoppable.
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FestaSports fashions can be purchased at Unlisted, 8262 South University Boulevard in Centennial. AnnaFesta is available at Scout & Molly's in Cherry Creek , 2445 East Third Avenue. And, of course, you can see Fanganello's work live on the runway at Artopia 2017.
The Whiteout fashion show starts at 8 p.m. at Artopia, Westword's annual celebration of the arts on Saturday, February 25, at City Hall, 1144 Broadway. Doors open at 7 p.m., and VIP tickets include a special reception with an open bar and Troy Guard food, as well as reserved seating for the fashion show. Get your tickets to Artopia now at westword.artopia.com.