The Siriano Effect for Risk VI
Becoming a catalyst in many ways for change in a fashion industry that is long overdue for reinvention, Christian Siriano is positioned at the helm of a brighter, more inclusive future.
Interview & Text by Colin Anderson
Whether you're watching an award show season red carpet such as the Emmys or Oscars, or a fashion stylist in New York City looking for your next pull, there’s hardly anyone else that comes to mind when it pertains to a designer that actually designs for all. Becoming a catalyst in many ways for change in a fashion industry that is long overdue for reinvention, Christian Siriano is positioned at the helm of a brighter, more inclusive future.
I remember sitting at a runway show of Christian’s, and contrary to the normal poised and reserved atmosphere of every other typical New York Fashion Week show, the audience was filled with energy and life. Saturday Night Live’s Leslie Jones front row cheering and hollering that would be bizarre at any other show, felt authentic. Whether it was a size 16 bombshell, a stunning sample size effeminate man, or the unrivaled supermodel Coco Rocha, the crowd’s resonance and applause for all beauty was a small glimpse into the concept that all beauty should be celebrated. For decades the fashion industry has built and profited off of a facade of exclusivity, something that Siriano has completely turned upside down and defied every step of the way.
If you could describe the brand DNA of Christian Siriano, how would that be?
I think our brand is about luxury, femininity, power, and accessibility for all women. I want our customer to feel confident and strong, yet still romantic and elegant.
Explain the hardest thing about being a fashion brand in the 21st century, digital/social media landscape?
I think it’s hard some days just to keep up with the daily grind that it is to make clothes. We are always evolving, and always on to the next thing, but sometimes that is hard because you can’t just sit back and say “wow, look at all the great things I have done”. It always feels like fashion is never finished. When will it ever be enough to feel proud of your work and just say good job.
Did you ever imagine that in the future Christian Siriano would be the go-to inclusive brand for all women?
I don’t think so. I didn’t set out on that mission. At first I was just dressing the people that I thought were beautiful and interesting. Yet I am glad that I helped change how the entire industry looks at women. That is exciting and makes me proud of what me and my team have accomplished.
What was the biggest Risk that you, or your brand has ever taken in order to be where you are today. Any advice on Risk taking?
We take risks every single day. Dressing the women on the carpet that we do might be considered a risk. Who can dress Cardi B, Nicki Minaj, Goldie Hawn and Jessica Lange all in the same week! I think even using the models we use are a risk because people clearly judge them differently than others, a reason I can’t explain. Every collaboration I do is a risk. Some work and some don’t. However, I like taking the chance on something new and different.
How would you describe your creative process, and where do you draw your inspiration from?
Inspiration can come from anywhere. A place I have been, a piece of art, furniture, flowers, or really anything for that matter. I then go right into sketching with a very old school pencil and paper, and I come up with as many shapes and ideas as I can. Then I start to drape and play with fabrics. Fabrics are a big part of my collections. I like to really make sure I’m using the best quality fabrics that are not only interesting, but special.
How do you think got you to this point, and why do you think you have been so successful?
I think I was able to block out the noise and stay focused on what I love and wanted to do. I stopped taking advice from people honestly. So many people told me not to do things like Payless, or not make evening wear a focus, and now I can’t imagine not having either of those things. I like to try new things and push my customer season after season, and I think that really keeps us going.
What misconceptions do you think people have about you or your brand, or the fashion industry as a whole?
I’m not sure anymore. Maybe that I had it easy in the beginning, which if anything I feel I had it much harder because I had something to prove. I also was able to gain customers and red carpet recognition so early on, which I’m sure other brands didn’t understand how it was possible for us to dress so many people all the time. The answer to that is I work so hard every day. I don’t sleep much, and this business is my entire life.
What is the most rewarding part about your job?
I think the most rewarding part is just seeing amazing women wear the clothes. Whether it’s on a red carpet or on the street, thinking that they choose to wear my designs today feels really great! Something I created from nothing turns into something real in the end.
Fashion is all about innovation, pushing the needle forward, and making people feel and look their best selves. If there was a message or dream you had for the industry as a collective, what would that be?
I think fashion should be fun and exciting for everyone no matter what age, size, or race you are. Getting dressed should be the easy part of the day, and that’s what I’m here to help do!
For the full interview, and more images from Risk VI, download your FREE copy today.
Photographer Pavel Denisenko
Styling Colin Anderson
Art Direction Dearest Creative & Colin Anderson
Hair Mandee Tauber
Makeup Kale Teter
Videographer & Photo Assistant David Simmons
Models Nya Kong @Supreme, Oksana Jager @IMG, Tian-yi @Aura