BY: HAL RUBENSTEIN
Christian Siriano’s own look has been distinctive from the beginning: His Harry Potteresque haircut, slim frame, and oversized, thick-framed eyewear works a cool schoolboy nerd vibe. Yet a streak of rebelliousness is at the core of the young designer’s success. His aesthetic is anything but casual, nor is it aimed at either Millennials, or supposedly cutting edge New Yorkers. In fact, Siriano doesn’t have one dream girl. He has lots of them proven by a roster of celebrities as diverse as Debra Messing, Taylor Swift, Jennifer Lopez, Nicki Minaj, Heidi Klum, Leslie Jones, Jessica Lange, and Michelle Obama. Siriano loves women - every skin tone, every shape, every age.
And whichever one he’s currently dressing, she’s going to be glamorous. Siriano is not a jeans and t-shirt kind of guy. Because he believes that fashion is about looking swell and going somewhere special, the designer’s rebelliousness turns out to be a bit of a throwback. He believes in elegance. Funny, so does Gabriel & Co.
HR: Many of your colleagues have opted for a much more casual approach to today’s style.
CS: We have found that there are a lot of women out there who want event clothes. Not just gowns. But clothes that are dramatic and modern, that highlight an evening or an occasion. There are lots of little somethings people can get at Zara. What we do can’t be found there.
HR: You are based in New York. Is the New York woman your focus?
CS:No. In fact, she is usually the one who wants the more classic option. Women in Houston seek eye-catching detail and texture. We have customers in Detroit calling for new silhouettes and fabrics and shun all the basics. We also didn’t realize when we started that we would have such a strong international business but in places like Kuwait and other areas of the Middle East, color is everything.
HR: How do you choose what comes next?
CS: I look at interiors constantly. I’m a furniture lover and I’m crazy for vintage tapestries, antique chairs, and sofas. Also, I travel so much for work that even if I am not consciously thinking about it, what I see in my new surroundings trickle in.
The new world of simplicity infine jewelry works with this. Even when we are doing clothes for the red carpet, we are more likely to go for the simple drop than the chandelier earring. For us, that’s what is super elegant. - Christian Siriano
HR: Travel also exposes you to diversity. Women are not the same everywhere.
CS:They are not the same anywhere. Each of them has individual power and beauty.
HR: You were very specific during the last fashion week about the range of women’s sizes you showed on your runway.
CS:We have always made those sizes. When we started with Moda Operandi, a site that is so international, we made them go up to size 26, not out of arrogance, but because it made sense. When you look at whom we have dressed on the red carpet, you know this kind of inclusion has always been part of what we do. Others did it, too. They just didn’t want to admit it. We put it in everyone’s face and we are proud of that.
HR: What advice do you have for women who are larger and are somewhat intimidated about embracing bold fashion?
CS:Push yourself. Don’t be afraid. I have a friend who is a size 18 and she just spent five figures on a hand-beaded coat! Forget about excuses like “I don’t look good in one shoulder”, “I don’t look good in strapless”. Each dress is different. Each designer is different. You have to try it on to know if that’s true. It probably isn’t.
HR: You recently began a big push into bridal. What’s key there for you?
CS:Brides today want a new approach to tradition. We are shooting for romance and the ethereal, achieved with tulle elements. Full skirts and appliques and, for those who think a little forward, the silhouette and beading can make a very sexy bride. A mermaid bridal gown can be amazing as well.
HR: With clothes that are this noteworthy, should a woman’s jewelry match her clothes in power?
CS:I’m a big accessories fan, but since so much of my work is embellished you have to scale back to find the right pieces. The new world of simplicity in fine jewelry works with this. Even when we are doing clothes for the red carpet, we are more likely to go for the simple drop than the chandelier earring. For us, that’s what is super elegant.
HR: What’s the one mantra for style that works for woman at any age?