The Future is Fierce: Christian Siriano Tells us Why | Grandlife
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The Future is Fierce: Christian Siriano Tells us Why

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Jack James Busa talks to the design powerhouse about his latest collection, building a global brand from his studio in New York, the wisdom gained along the way and the importance of trusting your instincts—plus his favorite local hangouts for dinner, drinks and dancing.  

Fifteen years ago, a juvenile soon-to-be GrandLife contributing writer clicked his television remote and transmitted onto his screen was a spunky young boy with a flat-ironed asymmetrical haircut, sporting a daring American Apparel top beneath a waistcoat and rocking thick-rimmed glasses. This quick-witted dynamo was a contestant on Season Four of Bravo’s powerhouse fashion competition series, Project Runway, known for signing off quick witted comebacks with his iconic catchphrase: “fierce.” Entering into the American zeitgeist: Christian Siriano who within a mere 15 years, would rise to become one of America’s foremost designers, crafting couture for first ladies, Grammy-winning pop sensations, Academy Award-winning starlets, and, of course, the one and only Oprah.

Like many reality stars, Christian Siriano’s story could have easily faded into the background, becoming mere fodder for topical SNL sketches or resurfacing in some other reality show about reality stars. Fortunately, that was not the case for Siriano, who transformed his 15 minutes of fame into 15 years of legacy and counting. Since the launch of his brand in 2008, Siriano has achieved remarkable milestones, including induction into the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), recognition in Forbes’ “30 Under 30” in 2015, and the distinction of being the youngest person ever featured on Crain’s “40 Under 40” list. Notably, he was honored as “Designer of the Year” at the 2016 AAFA American Image Awards and received the Couture For A Cause “Designer of the Decade” Award in the same year. Furthermore, Siriano co-founded the accessories e-commerce retailer “Send the Trend” and served as Chief Curator until its acquisition by QVC. In April 2018, he was named one of Time 100’s Most Influential People In The World for his pioneering efforts in promoting body diversity on the runway and red carpet. Beyond these achievements, Siriano has expanded his empire into the realms of fragrance, interior design, and publishing. Pretty fierce, huh?

I chatted with the design powerhouse about his latest collection, the wisdom gained from 15 years in the industry, and the sources of ongoing excitement and inspiration in his work.

Where are you from?

Annapolis, Maryland

How would you describe growing up there?

I actually loved growing up in a beach town where we went on boats every summer and that was very beautiful, picturesque and inspiring.

Who were the first fashion icons and brands that inspired you?

I loved a lot. I loved everyone from Westwood, McQueen, Oscar, Donna Karan, Carolina; they all inspired me for different reasons.

Who or what has inspired you recently?

I’m mostly inspired by the people we get to dress, whether it’s a celebrity, first lady, vice president, talented singer, amazing actor—all the wonderful people who buy our clothes.

Last year, you celebrated your 15-year career anniversary. What would you say is the biggest lesson you’ve learned in those 15 years?

Take risks, always trust my initial instincts and never second guess myself.

 

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A post shared by Christian Siriano (@csiriano)

Was there a particular piece of advice at the start of this journey that you can recall? If so, how well do you think you followed it?

No, because in the beginning, I didn’t take a lot of the advice because I didn’t agree with it, so I had to forge my own path.

What keeps you excited or interested in continuing to do what you do?

I love the freedom of expressing myself however I want and I love seeing how wonderful and beautiful people feel while they’re wearing my clothes.

At the risk of fan-girling, when your season of Project Runway premiered, I was a huge fan. I was even a part of a Facebook group called “Christian is FIERCE!!!” which I just looked up, and apparently I’m still a member of. Your presence on the show was crucial and exciting for so many of us growing up trying to figure out who we were; I just wanted to say thank you. That said, have you ever felt a stigma from being a “reality star” in the fashion world?

Maybe 16 years ago, but I was 21 years old with nothing to lose and everything to gain and I think I gained quite a lot.

Congratulations on your most recent show, it looked beautiful. I read that your creative flint for this collection was the film ‘Dune,’ which led to asking yourself what the glitterati would be wearing to all the fantastical events in a post-apocalyptic world. What was it about that concept and film that excited you enough to center a whole collection around it?

For the Fall/Winter 2024 season, I was inspired by the modern, futuristic world set forth in the 1965 novel and subsequent film, ‘Dune’. The collection embodies the idea of what eveningwear and glamor would look like in a sci-fi, apocalyptic desert—which informs a rich color palette and luminous textures like luxurious creams, liquid metallics, burnt orange lamés with intricate glass beading, deep reds, and black shimmering tinsel reminiscent of a vast starry sky. In keeping with the essence of our Siriano custom, the Fall/Winter collection balances power and strength with soft, romantic elegance.

I would imagine once one collection ends, you quickly start the next. On top of that, you’re at the helm of a variety of other endeavors of which there are a plethora. How do you find balance?

I am never short of inspiration, everything inspires me, I could make 10 collections a year if I really needed to.

What do you say to those who comment that fashion shows in general don’t make clothes people can actually wear anymore?

I don’t really get that comment much, I think people can really see them in clothes from my collections, which is why I show so many different races, genders, sizes and shapes on the runway.

What’s your favorite part of conceptualizing and creating each collection?

The best part is how it evolves from one idea to the next. By the time my collection is complete, it is always different from what I originally thought it would be.

When you think of New York, are there any particular emotions or memories that immediately come to mind?

When I first started out, we had one computer and one pattern table and now we have a whole large functioning studio, so when I think of New York, I think of the growth I have made here.

What album or song would you consider your personal soundtrack to New York?

Anything Lady Gaga because she was one of the first musicians I met and dressed when I moved to NY.

When you have time off, which I’m assuming is rare, what are your favorite hangout places in the city and why?

I have favorite dinner spots like Café Cluny, Mr. Chow Tribeca, Waverly Inn and drinks and dancing at The Mulberry.

What is your favorite word?

Interesting

What is your least favorite word?

No

What turns you on?

Money

What turns you off?

People who try too hard

What sound or noise do you love?

Sounds of the ocean

What sound or noise do you hate?

Honking

What is your favorite curse word?

Fuck

What profession, other than your own, would you like to attempt?

Professional ice skater

What profession would you not like to do?

Bank teller

If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?

You’ve changed the world

What would the title of your autobiography be?

“I’ve Seen Way Too Many Famous People Naked”

Instagram: @csiriano

Website: christiansiriano.com

WORDS Jack James Busa @jackjamesbusa

PHOTOGRAPHY Shane LaVancher

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