Reality television stars don’t always remain in orbit. Few bachelorettes or survivors continue to dot our stellar system. Usually, they fade quickly after the finale, perhaps turning up for a post-show interview, their sparkle somewhat dimmed.
Not Christian Siriano′s. The onetime reality contestant’s star has burned more brightly, year after year, for over a decade, attracting superstars like Angela Bassett, Lady Gaga, Sarah Jessica Parker and Rihanna to him with the gravitational pull of his evening gowns. Siriano won Project Runway in 2008, the same year he debuted at New York Fashion Week. In 2013, he was admitted into the Council of Fashion Designers of America. For the 2018 Academy Awards, Siriano dressed a record 17 women, celebrities as diverse as Amy Adams, Janelle Monáe, Whoopi Goldberg and Laurie Metcalf. “The Oscars was crazy,” Siriano says. “It was a very busy few weeks. But it was a great, great moment.”
Photo by Brad Walsh
One of many for the designer. This year, Siriano celebrated his tenth year in the industry with an electric Fall 2018 runway show that opened with model Ashley Graham in a floor-length red faux fur coat and featured a front row with Coca Rocha, Laverne Cox, Meg Ryan, Whoopi Goldberg, Molly Shannon and Cardi B seated left to right. “The collection was really about celebrating beauty and women, of all ages and sizes and cultures. That was really important to me,” says Siriano.
long sleeve ruffle detail cocktail dress
Amid all the red carpets and runways, Siriano has also quietly made a name for himself as a champion of diversity in fashion—diversity of size, ethnicity, gender and economic class (he’s collaborated with Payless Shoes and Puma). “My mom was a size 16. My sister was a size 2. So I couldn’t imagine not having clothes for them,” Siriano explains.
“That always inspired the idea that we should celebrate the body, and all types of beautiful people.”
Siriano’s success is due in part to this egalitarian approach to glamor. But that lack of sartorial snobbery hasn’t diminished the elegance of his designs. After all, his gowns attract supernovas. “I had a long list of people that I wanted to dress,” Siriano says. “Angelina Jolie, Drew Barrymore and Julianne Moore, and I got to work with all of them.” Who’s left on that list? “I’m a big fan of Cate Blanchett. And I haven’t done anything for her yet.”
“The amazing Céline Dion just wore the caped dolman gown in her new music video. I love that dress. It has such elegance and ease. You’re covered but it’s still really sexy.”
It’s not just celebrities who are on Siriano’s mind when he designs. “I was the designer that was in the stores, doing trunk shows, from my very first season,” he says. “So I really got to know my customer quickly and what she wanted. I knew she wanted this elevated, glamorous feel, but still something wearable.” Over the years, he has outfitted many star professionals, philanthropists, mothers, wives, husbands and dads in his dramatic, impeccably constructed designs for all types of special occasions. “I always say, it’s easy to get the customer one time but to get them coming back season after season feels really great,” says Siriano. In his 10 years of making sure all beautiful people feel their best, Siriano’s formula hasn’t changed: celebrate the individual, their unique beauty. That’s why his star continues to rise.
V-neck cape silk gown
“We all love a classic black dress, but maybe go for something colorful, bright and bold.”
Siriano’s advice for shopping formal wear:
- “My biggest thing is to take a risk and try everything. If you’re flipping through a rack and you see a color that you think you can’t wear, try it,” he says. “That’s when fashion takes on a new form, when it’s different.”
- Additionally, be sure to have your gown or suit altered. “Eveningwear is something with a lot of elements: tulle or overlays. A quick alteration can make all the difference.”