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The Christian Siriano Experience

Article by — Caroline D’Arcy Gorman

Photo by— Eva Zar

Styled by — Yên Nguyen

Art Direction — Jasper Soloff

Hair by — Eric Vosburg

Makeup by — Serina Takei

Fashion Assistant — Allie Nanasi

 
 
 
 On Sean— Christian Siriano  Iridescent Jacquard Blazar Dress, On Torraine— Christian Siriano  Turquoise Jacquard Blazer and Flare Trouser, On Mar— Christian Siriano  Turquoise Jacquard Blazer, Shorts and shoes, On Richie— Christian Siriano  Gold Jacquard Blazer, Short, and shoes

On Sean—Christian Siriano Iridescent Jacquard Blazar Dress, On Torraine—Christian Siriano Turquoise Jacquard Blazer and Flare Trouser, On Mar—Christian Siriano Turquoise Jacquard Blazer, Shorts and shoes, On Richie—Christian Siriano Gold Jacquard Blazer, Short, and shoes

The red dress is gargantuan in both nature and stature. Its ruffles and curves

move and sway and as fabric falls upon fabric, the dress comes to life like an animal unto itself. It’s a living, breathing piece of art, and the designer behind it is about as shy as his vision. As Christian Siriano talks, I can see the wheels turning, the vision unfolding, his dream of a universe springing into being: “I come up with these dreams; I can see how a piece might move without even seeing it walk yet.” Whether it’s a voluptuous red dress or a slim metallic suit, Siriano’s sentiment is steadfast. There is always a bold elegance to his work. It’s in his careful and sharp stitchwork, in his magnificent colors, in his unabashed daring. Siriano’s incredible success over the past ten years has countered a stagnancy in fashion, a world that prides itself on progress and unconventionality while often remaining stuck in the grooves of 

the very status quo it seeks to oppose. “I like to pick models that are personally interesting but also powerful,” Siriano explains. “I always felt like it wouldn’t make sense to exclude anybody from that dream world because fashion should be a fun, beautiful, emotional thing.” His insistence on innovation has sent Siriano to the top, solidifying his position as one of the most celebrated queer designers

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of the past decade. He is a member of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, and most recently included in the TIME 100 list of most influential people in the world. And, thankfully, he never stops. “When it’s calm, I freak out. The grind, the craziness, the constant creating, the overstimulation actually pushes me the most, because each time I make one piece, that one inspires another, and another.” It’s not only desire that keeps Siriano constantly creating, it’s demand. Soriano dressed seventeen women at this year’s Oscars alone, and he wouldn’t have it any other way. “Who knows what’s coming to the table! One minute we’re making a beautiful dress for a mom going to a wedding, the next it’s something for Beyonce, and the next it’s tour costumes for a new artist. Every single day, it’s something new. That spontaneity is really the best part.”

Siriano grew up in Annapolis, Maryland, and found himself immersed in performance at a young age. He would put on plays and entered training to be a ballet dancer. “I was always into

the fans world of dressing up. That translated into transforming people and their lives, whether it’s for an event or just their daily life.” He followed in the footsteps of his older sister, Shannon, whose eccentricity always stood out: “She would wear tutus and platform shoes and giant hats with feathers, and her hair was always different.” Despite her eccentricity, Shannon was accepted, proving to Christian that he could be himself and do what he wanted. “She definitely inspired me to be confident and forceful.”

It is truly remarkable how Soriano manages to balance so much, especially knowing how demanding and grueling the fashion industry can be. I can’t help but ask him about the elegance with which he juggles his creative output, the business side of his brand, his dynamic personal life, and all the rest. “That is the challenge, every single day. I try to take a beat and feel good every now and then. With any artist, the number one issue is almost never being satisfied. You feel like you always have to do more. I have a hand

 
  Christian Siriano  Red Cascading Tulle Capelet Gown,  MORDEKAI  by  Ken Borochov  Dragonfly Crown,  MORDEKAI  by  Ken Borochov  Bee Ring

Christian Siriano Red Cascading Tulle Capelet Gown, MORDEKAI by Ken Borochov Dragonfly Crown, MORDEKAI by Ken Borochov Bee Ring

 

in every single piece that we put out, and it can be hard to let things go. It’s an obsession, which can be both good and bad.”

It’s like having a baby, I say. “So many babies! Like a hundred babies every season! Oh my gosh!” he says, throwing up his hands and laughing. “It’s an emotional ride, too. If people don’t like it, or they love it, or if something doesn’t get a response… But as designers, we set ourselves up for instant criticism. That’s the job, which—and I say this to a lot of young designers—is the hardest part. Sometimes fashion can be a thankless world, especially now, because it moves so quickly. Everyone is onto the next event, the next project, the next thing. You don’t have time to sit there and feel proud.”

But Soriano deserves to feel more than proud. The change he has created with his past decade of work is tangible. Fashion has historically predetermined its market: who gets to enjoy what

clothing, the body types and capital one must have to do so. Yet the the world Christian Soriano is creating for us is different. “I’m into everyone. I get really invested in people and am able to connect pretty quickly. That is a big part of it; if you are creating a custom piece for somebody, you have to connect. You have to understand what is happening in their mind because you can tell when somebody feels great in something. Personal identity is all about expressing oneself visually. If you want to wear a beautiful dress, you should be able to, no matter who you are.” And his world is not contained merely to the runway; his new store The Curated NYC is a mini Soriano metropolis, a physical manifestation of that intricate vision inside his head. “We wanted to curate a space that feels like a closet, or even a home, that doesn’t feel unobtainable. It is really important that anybody an come in, no matter what they’re looking for, and find something at all price points.

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  Christian Siriano  Fuchsia Ciffon Gown with Cape Overlay,  CHRISHABANA  Pearl Septum Cuff,  Jennifer Behr  Vittoria Earrings

Christian Siriano Fuchsia Ciffon Gown with Cape Overlay, CHRISHABANA Pearl Septum Cuff, Jennifer Behr Vittoria Earrings

  Christian Siriano  Burgundy Pleated Tulle Tiered Dress,  Christian Siriano  Nude Script Over the Knee Boots,  MORDEKAI  by  Ken Borochov  Oversized Rose Hoops

Christian Siriano Burgundy Pleated Tulle Tiered Dress, Christian Siriano Nude Script Over the Knee Boots, MORDEKAI by Ken Borochov Oversized Rose Hoops

 

I wanted the store to feel more like an experience. I think that’s a big part of what is lost in fashion sometimes.”

Christian’s energy is palpable, and even though his mind may be ricocheting between a million places at once, his vision and objective are constantly clear. “I make what I want to make, and I have always done that. Even in the beginning when people judged some of the big ball gowns I did, I have always stuck to what I want to create, and how I want to create for. And I am still one of ht only designers showing a diverse group of people on the runway.” Inevitably, I ask him if he thinks the industry is changing. “I am proud of what we are doing. I get asked all the time why other brands aren’t doing what we are, and I don’t know the answer. It only takes one or two people to really change the business for other people to follow. But sadly, there are very influential people who are just not interested.”

Even so, there is no doubt that Christian Siriano has paved the way for young queer and trans designers on the rise. He is a champion of diversity both on the runway and red carpet; Siriano’s couture, his shows, and his success tell them to move forward with inspiration, intention, and clarity. The rest of the world will just have to catch up. “You have to embrace everything that you love, and really do what you love to do. The number one thing; It takes time. If you are a young creative in any field, you can’t stop because it isn’t exactly what you want it to be right away. You’ve got to stick it out. It took me almost ten years to really get in a good place.” To describe where Siriano has landed thus far “a good place,” is a humble understatement. And, knowing Christian Siriano, it’s only going to get better. “At least fashion isn’t dead yet!”

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