Reinventing An Icon: Albino Riganello Reveals His Plans For The New BCBGMAXAZRIA

by Freya Drohan

It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, and there’s new talent leading BCBGMAXAZRIA. Enter Albino Riganello, the charming creative director whose career has taken him from his native Italy to major design roles in Milan, Paris, and NYC for the likes of Givenchy, Dolce & Gabbana, and Zuhair Murad. Ergo, the brand that has woven itself into the formative fashion memory of almost every American woman is about to take on a whole new guise for the future, starting with his debut Signature Collection—a love letter to his multifaceted BCBG woman. Here’s what you need to know!

How’s your summer been? Are you recharging the batteries or busier than ever?
It’s certainly been busy with planning, but I said I would take a week to 10 days off and I did! I went back to Italy, to my hometown in Calabria. I am close to my family and try to go back once a year to see them. I also went to the Amalfi Coast; it was so beautiful. I spoke my language again, and I ate in my language again! We are collaborating with an Italian atelier on a lot of tailoring, so I went to see them in Florence on the last three days of my trip, too. You’re about to launch the Fall collection, your debut. How are you feeling? It’s exciting! I’m on the website every day, and I really want to share it! It’s been months in the making. I want to share the vision; I feel very strong about the wardrobe staples we’ve created for the BCBG customer.

What has struck you most when looking through the BCBG archives?
The beautiful women who have worn BCBG. They always tell me that they wore BCBG for their first date, first job interview, or to prom. There’s really a conversation there with people who’ve worn the brand. There’s particular aspects to a BCBG piece—the flowing side of it, the femininity, the lightness. There was always a modern touch that Max [Azria] would give to the garments, as well as color blocking and pleating. It’s something that I will keep in mind the more I get into designing, but making it my own.

What’s your earliest memory of the brand?
I was in the office in Milan working for Dolce & Gabbana, and we were listening to music and watching fashion shows. It must have been the early 2000s We were watching the show and I remember the song that was playing…little did I know what would come one day. It’s definitely an iconic American brand.

How did this role come to be?
I was happy where I was, and it came out of the blue. I have an agent who asked me one day if I was interested. I was very interested! We started a conversation with the SVP at the time, and I was happy during the process as we got to know each other. It felt like I was already working there!

Did you always want to be a designer?
Absolutely! My mom says even when I was 3 years old, I was sketching. I come from a family of accountants and lawyers who didn’t think fashion was a job. But I’ve always been encouraged, and I slowly made my way to Milan.

Albino Riganello (Kamyiis McLean)

You’ve worked in fashion capitals all over the world. How does this prime you for what’s to come?
In every city, I always take time for myself to sit and watch and try to understand the way women move in their clothes. I consider myself very fortunate to have worked in different countries and to have gained this knowledge of different markets; you can’t just be in a box and think you design for one country, as with e-commerce. The market has exploded, so traveling and meeting different women has been a blessing.

What do you make of New York City women?
They’re so fast! They lead an active life—she’s not going home to take a siesta midday! She needs clothes that are like a second skin that move with her and make her feel good about herself. Her fashion is definitely getting a bit more comfortable.

What will the Fall collection offer to her?
It’s like a good Italian meal—everything starts with ingredients. We started with fabrics; as a designer I’m intrigued by complicated fabrics, but I don’t use them. Fabrics need to move with your body. The Fall collection is a little more loose, flowing, and free. I’ll never say no to trends, but we’re not dictated by trends.

What’s your goal for this next chapter of BCBG?
My main goal is about the clients. I want to take her hand, introduce myself and my Signature Collection and say, “Please try it out.” I want her to see that there’s space in her closet for us. The customer that remembers us from prom, I would like to hear what she needs now and give her those separates, amazing fabrications, and fit—our fit has improved so much.

What’s keeping you inspired?
I have quite a collection of fashion books, especially old ones. At the beginning of the season, I like to look at those books and think of the past. Fashion is going extremely fast and we tend to forget where we come from—the craft and the love of creating garments. It’s not even about referencing them, it just gives me energy.

Is there a certain celebrity or muse you’d love to dress one day?
I mean honestly, every celebrity is welcome! But I’m more interested in somebody who is up and coming as I also start out in my role. We could support each other and trust each other and build a true relationship—not just a one-night stand. I want her to shine and feel comfortable.

Read more: See inside our West Hollywood celebration with the brand here!

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