Interview: Christian Siriano on His 10-Year NYFW Anniversary

Christian Siriano’s show at the beautiful Grand Lodge marked his 10-year anniversary. The two-story set up was packed with excited guests, eager photographers, press from the four corners of the world, and an enviably diverse front row that included IT-lady rapper of the moment Cardi B, Meg Ryan, Whoopi Goldberg, and trans-activist Laverne Cox. It wasn’t a quiet crowd either. Throughout the show, attendees spontaneously cheered and applauded as the models came out – the festive mood of the room rising even more as Ashley Graham, Danielle Brooks, and Selma Blair walked – adding another few layers of excitement and celebration to the occasion.

Portrait of Christian Siriano. Photo courtesy of the PR for NOWFASHION.

To create his anniversary collection, the designer drew inspiration from the beginning of his career and from late 18th century British art he had admired at the Queen’s Gallery in London. As stated in the show notes, the intent with this regal and elegant collection was to convey “the glamour and excitement of an ultimate dinner party.” Given the tone and quality of what he’s accomplished in the last decade – both redefining the red carpet’s glamour and influencing how women perceive themselves in clothing in his dedication to size and gender diversity – no one would have doubted this “party” to be anything other than dazzling and sensational.

CHRISTIAN SIRIANO FW18 show in New York. Photo by Regis Colin for NOWFASHION.

Siriano, despite being surrounded by an impatient slew of people wanting to congratulate him, kindly took the time to talk to us about his triumphant show and his relentless effort for inclusivity and empowerment.  

CHRISTIAN SIRIANO FW18 show in New York. Photo by Regis Colin for NOWFASHION.

You’re celebrating your first ten years in business, which also means you have quite a vantage point in how the artistry and the industry have been evolving. Can fashion truly empower women?

You know, hearing what happened on that runway today – the applause and the screams that some of the girls spontaneously received mid-show, I feel it’s possible. People are so visual, and in that sense fashion is like the first thing to impact someone’s thought, one of the most powerful ones as well. That can be good or bad by the way (laughs), but I think tonight, seeing all these powerful woman of all shapes and sizes, you can feel that they felt good in their clothes and that, in return, the audience felt something. Reacted to it… So yeah, I believe fashion can do that.   

CHRISTIAN SIRIANO FW18 show in New York. Photo by Regis Colin for NOWFASHION.

Along all those years, you’ve designed beautiful and elegant looks, but you’ve also continuously defended diversity, creating fashion for all sizes and genders. Given some of the justified criticism the industry is currently facing, how does that make you feel?    

To me, it’s really hard. And you know…it's such a funny thing too. Random people ask me about how the models feel when they're changing back stage. I’m thinking, “well, hopefully they feel good coming to work and working,” and if they don’t feel good, then that’s a bit weird because we’re like a family and we’re all very respectful of each other. We care about each other.

Honestly, I don't know why more people aren't onboard with this intention....with this idea of celebrating beauty and celebrating people. We all live in the same place, we all do the same things, and I’ve always felt like that and feel everyone on my team does too. I think that’s why over the years I've been able to dress a lot of actresses and work on a lot of projects – it’s because I’m open and I’m excited.

CHRISTIAN SIRIANO FW18 show in New York. Photo by Regis Colin for NOWFASHION.

So you believe things will get better?

I do feel things are getting better and will continue to get better. I don’t think our administration is helping that, and I wish it did… I wish it could. That's also part of the challenge. We were getting really, really close to major great things happening and then we took a step back.

Isn’t it a bit frustrating as well that in some ways, the criticism becomes somewhat generalized? That “One bad apple” type deal….

Of course, it's quite frustrating and also sad. You know, because sometimes we designers just get the bad part of it, and we have to deal with that.

And yet here you’ve been, trying to make a difference all of these years.

Exactly, and I want to make you feel the total opposite! I want you to feel beautiful when you’re at the show seeing these powerful and empowered women and men, to feel so fabulous in your clothes when you walk out the door every morning!

CHRISTIAN SIRIANO FW18 show in New York. Photo by Regis Colin for NOWFASHION.

Speaking of making a positive difference, I overheard that all of the purses on the runway were “vegan”?

Yes, they all were…

So you’re not just invested in championing diversity, but also the planet? 

Absolutely (laughs). That is also one of the main focuses of what we do. There is so much of that going on, not just the bags. The makeup brand we partnered with this season does not test of any of its products on animals; our entire collection of fur is faux… All of the things in our world are important to be cautious about and protect. I mean, it’s not going to be around forever, and even less so if we don’t address these environmental problems. That’s just scientifically factual…

For some…

…for some (laughs). I believe in doing something about it, so my team and I try to focus on those issues as much as possible, and I hope other people do too.

CHRISTIAN SIRIANO FW18 show in New York. Photo by Regis Colin for NOWFASHION.


See the full FW18 collection of CHRISTIAN SIRIANO here.