Let’s face it, fashion has a bit of a bad reputation right now. From it’s lack of size diversity on the runway to cultural appropriation scandals to persons of color absent from major magazine covers and campaigns, the industry has a lot of maturing to do. However, there is one designer who is a shining example of what the future should hold, and is making it happen today: Christian Siriano.
Siriano has been in the public eye for 10 years, after being the wunderkind that dominated and ultimately won the fourth season of Project Runway. Siriano has always been about inclusivity. While his eponymous line was selling at Saks Fifth Avenue and at Neiman Marcus, he was inking a deal to design a line of affordable footwear for Payless ShoeSource. Whenever a celebrity outside of the sample size range would publically throw up their hands in frustration of not having options for the red carpet, Siriano was their knight in shining armor who would come to their rescue with pins in hand and ideas on paper. Leslie Jones famously called out the fashion industry on Twitter for leaving her with nothing to wear for her 2016 Ghostbusters premier. Moments after hearing of her plight, Siriano pledged to dress Jones in a garment worthy for her red carpet moment. The designer did not disappoint; he created an off the shoulder red fitted gown that flaunted Jones’ assets and won them both accolades by critics.
For his Spring/Summer 2018 collection shown at New York Fashion Week, Siriano did not waiver from his commitment to inclusivity. His models were all of varying gender identities, sizes, and ethnicities, with a sprinkling of supermodels, such as Richmond’s own Coco Rocha to plus-size superstar Candice Huffine. Even actor Andy Garcia’s daughter, Alessandra Garcia-Lorido flaunted her full figure and bold brows on the catwalk.
Sartorially speaking, the show genuinely had something for everyone. The first handful of looks used a bright lime and International Klein Blue floral brocade whose boldness was reminiscent of ankara fabric. Green remained a dominant color throughout, found as an accent ruffle for a gown and dominating a 70’s inspired wide-legged pantsuit.
The dresses swung wildly from modest with full-length skirts and crew neck blouses to alluring with spaghetti straps and thigh-high slits that were reminiscent of Angelina Jolie’s Atelier Versace gown at the 2012 Oscars. The looks also ranged in formality from a “brunch with the ladies” t-shirt and midi length skirt combination to a “meet me at the Met Gala” high voltage colour confections in layers upon layers of ruffled silk.
Botanical and floral prints were a theme running throughout, as a futuristic look when paired with metallic leather slouched boots and a nod to the Austenian era with puffed sleeve coats and sweeping long skirts.
In attendance, there was a crowd as varied as the choice of models. Celebrities, Danielle Brooks and Cardi B (of “Bodak Yellow” fame) came to pay their respects as they were each rescued by Siriano when gown choices were non-existent for their proportions. Friend to the designer and blogger, Nicolette Mason exclaimed that in her 18 years of going to shows at NYFW, she had ”never, ever seen a happier, smilier, more engaged crowd than I did at [Christian Siriano’s] show just now. Just incredible.” Siriano titled the show his “psychedelic garden,” in which he created a lush bouquet of fresh and fun looks, brimming with exuberance and joy, with a cast and audience to match.
As a full fledged member of the CFDA for 5 years with a multi million dollar eponymous brand and a growing list of loyal celebrity clientele, 31 year old Siriano has come far from his humble Bravo TV beginnings and has truly made it work.