Have You Met?

Anne Fanganello, the creative force for the WM Events Denver operation, has had an extraordinary experience that she says: “... will be close to my heart forever.” When she volunteered to help out at the Excelsior Youth Center - one of the largest residential treatment centers for troubled girls between ages 11 and 18 - these young ladies captured Anne’s heart as she learned about the many struggles they have had to endure through their young lives. Anne tells us: “In this structured and supervised treatment program, they were trying to break through the thick walls of trauma, depression, and a need for love.  As I walked through the doors I took up my hammer and chisel and tentatively began to tap away at those walls.”

At the recent Excelsior Youth’s “Ever Upward: Love & Laughter Gala,” Anne engaged several of the girls in decorating centerpiece baskets for the event.  Anne says: “I love helping these girls look in the right direction and work on developing a sense of self esteem and worth.  They were so proud of themselves; and the final product was amazing. Our sledgehammers had made the final brick fall to the side as the girls and I met with no walls left between us.”

Anne is no stranger to the world of design and décor. While living in New York City to pursue the  dream she’s had (since age 13) of becoming a fashion designer, she was lured into the world of technical design, management and operations.  Anne was the “right hand person” for designer, Nanette Lepore and then moved on to become the Chief Operating Officer of designer Zac Posen’s fashion empire producing world-class theatrical runway shows - among other high-powered events and duties.

In the middle of this dream-come-true, whirlwind career, Ms. Fanganello found out she had advanced breast cancer.  Although her doctors weren’t that optimistic, Anne with her strong spirit put the same amount of drive and determination into healing and winning the battle against cancer – as she has done with everything else in her life.  She went for the maximum amount of treatment possible without “killing herself,” and seven years later, Anne is happy, healthy and back to being the perfectionist that she is creating flawless productions and events for WM Events in her much-loved hometown of Denver.

Anne is subtly captivating and a beautiful representation of a strong, intelligent, talented – and resilient professional woman.  Anne has just the perfect amount of fire and spice in her to create the most glamorous event - with that feel of luxury - that you’ve ever experienced without breaking your budget. And with all that Anne Fanganello has experienced, she also knows that every day needs to be lived as if it too is a special occasion!

What inspires you to come up with the concepts and ideas for your events?
How do you keep that creativity flowing?  I am very inspired by music, youth, fashion, color and texture. I study our culture and how it is evolving and draw from it. Ultimately it is about the client’s personality. I have long conversations and work around their ideals and am able to help them see what they really want.

What are some of the suggestions you give clients who are on a budget these days? 
There are some simple changes that can be made such as only serving wine and beer vs. a full bar; not doing a seated dinner; having just cocktails instead of a meal; and creating events that are minimal on staff or utilize a unique venue.

You lived in New York and worked in the fashion industry for almost 20 years. Tell us a little about your life there? 
Life in “The Big Apple” was very exciting and busy.  I was very lucky to have the ability to live my dreams to the fullest and be paid to do exactly what I had always wanted to do. I worked in high fashion with Nanette Lepore, Zac Posen and all of the best seamstresses and patternmakers in the business. It was a joy to create such beauty and make women feel gorgeous and happy about themselves when they looked in the mirror. Bottom line – I LOVED IT!

Who was the most famous celebrity you ever met during that time? 
You name ‘em, I’ve met ‘em! Some of my favorites were Bette Midler, Bernadette Peters, Steve Buscemi and Parker Posey. We always had wine and champagne available for later afternoon meetings and made fittings fun instead of work.
Who is the wisest person you know, and what did you learn from them? 

My grandmother taught me to be happy. No matter what kinds of trials life may throw at us, LIVING life at all times with eyes wide open is key. I take it all in and put a positive spin on even the worst situations. This life is all that we have, so there is no sense letting the hard stuff get us down.
What was it like going to school in Italy?  Do you go back there often? 
I go back as often as I can!  If I can make it every couple of years, than I am happy. Speaking Italian lets me enter more deeply into the culture and really get to know the people. I went to school primarily to engulf myself in order to learn the language. At that point fashion was secondary to my learning Italian. I worked and socialized with the locals and avoided speaking English almost 100% of the time.
What do you consider your own personal style?
Eclectic and feminine. I love classic lines paired with crazy colors, prints and textures.

What is your greatest fashion indulgence?  What have you purchased that you will never part with? 
I love handbags. I change my handbag every day to match my outfit. They add to the look, and I can never have too many! I will never part with my personal collection of garments from Zac Posen, Nanette Lepore, and Elizabeth Wayman. Even if they do not fit or are out of style, they are my museum to what I accomplished in New York. People come and borrow items all of the time, and I get a thrill out of seeing them get used.

What was the deciding factor that brought you back to Denver?  Are you hopefully here to stay? 
My family. I was the only one who moved away from Denver, and I felt like I was missing out on a whole different side of life. Being single in New York City is a wild lifestyle to maintain for 18 years! I still have my apartment in NYC, but do not plan to move back there.
In your intro, we hit upon how much the girls at Excelsior Youth Center touched you, are you still doing volunteer work with them? 
I work with them as much as possible. I just did a runway show with the girls as the models. It was amazing to see the transformation from shy girl into supermodel after we applied makeup, hair and fashion! (For more information about Excelsior visit http://www.excelsioryc.org)
What do you consider your greatest achievement? 
Surviving breast cancer. I approached as I do everything else in my life. Learn from it and put a positive spin on it to keep my life positive and optimistic. I have never met anyone who dealt with cancer the way I did. I am very proud of myself.

Where do you find yourself going back to over and over when you need to buy clothes? 
Now that I am living in Denver, I have gone back to my roots and really enjoy sitting down at a machine and whipping out an outfit for the event the next day.

How does the seasoned woman stay viable and in-demand with so much emphasis on youth and looking young these days? 
I am all about “be happy with what you have”. Youth and beauty comes from within. I look in the mirror and see joy and life. I feel that my true inner self makes me beautiful to others.
What's in the future for Anne Fanganello?
I still feel new to Denver even though I am a native. I am working to find great friends and long term clients that will make my life here in Denver as wonderful and full as my life in NYC was. I look forward to having Wm Events as a starting point to grow into creating product lines for home and entertainment. Living well is a talent and a lifestyle that I want to bring to others in every way possible.
If you could go back 25 years, what advice would you give yourself? 
I would not give myself any advice. We learn from our mistakes and every point in our life adds to the development of who we have become. If I knew what was going to happen ahead of time, then I may not have had the experiences which I now treasure.

What do you want to be remembered for? 
Making the world a happier place. I want to help influence others to believe in their inner beauty and wake up with a smile on their face. I love my approach to the world and want to help others to see life as a wonderful journey full of excitement and joy at every turn.

(Contact Anne Fanganello at: anne@wmevents.com)