With his recent rise as VP of Design for a top fashion line, Albino Riganello took some time out of his busy schedule to share with me a little about himself, his jewelry collection 1974, and his current views on fashion.
When did you discover your passion for fashion? I was six years old and liked to sketch clothes. I realized that’s what I wanted to do as a career. I didn’t draw landscapes like most children, I found myself drawing clothes.
Who was your earliest mentor and what would you say was the best advice he or she gave you? Domenico Dolce was my first mentor. His best advice to me was “I pay you to dream. When you stop dreaming, you’re fired!”
Did you work any odd jobs before you started designing? What ultimately became you first major gig as a designer? When I was in college, I handed out discount flyers for a local boutique in Bologna, Italy. I wanted them to notice me and was eventually hired as a salesman. My first major gig though was an internship with Gucci. It was the first year Tom Ford was in office. I was later hired by Alessandro Dell Acqa as a designer where I designed for a year until ultimately becoming a designer for Dolce and Gabbana. I stayed with D&G for seven years.
When did you move to New York and what inspired that move from Italy? It was my dream at the age of ten to move to America. After watching the movie Coming to America, I thought that America had a wider horizon. I moved here after being hired as a designer for Gwen Stefani’s line LAMB.
Name some of your favorite celebrity clientele. Madonna, Jennifer Lopez, Alicia Keys, Beyonce, Mary J. Blige, and Whitney Houston. Whitney was the first celebrity I designed for at Dolce and Gabbana.
What would you say is the most difficult thing about the fashion business and what are some of your favorite and less than favorite fashion trends? Fast fashion is ruining the fashion business. For men, I love the fact that men are taking more risks with their look. I also love a small clutch, but I hate those small man bags that cross the shoulder. For women though, I hate UGG Boots, but American women know how to take care of themselves. There are so many trends in women that I love.
If you weren’t a designer, what would you be doing? I would be a singer so I could wear beautiful clothes on stage!!!
Tell me about your jewelry line 1974. I created  during the [most recent] recession. I was working for Jennifer Lopez at the time and thought I was going to lose my job. In my home studio, I would design pieces that my friends would wear. One day, someone told me they wanted to represent my line. I eventually landed articles with Vogue Italia, Ebony magazine, and others. My favorite clientele thus far have been Nicki Minaj and Kelly Rowland.
What can we expect from you in the coming year? I will be marketing 1974 internationally and beginning to create a men’s fashion line.
What advice would you give inspiring fashion designers? Don’t think that you have arrived, you’re never there. There’s always a process. It’s a business, not a stage.
For inquiries regarding 1974, please email Soma@leela.com.