The day before his 10th anniversary show and Christian Siriano, plus 11 celebrity friends and models have taken over the ELLE.com offices. My simple pitch to “get a few women together to model some of Siriano’s favorite gowns from his archive” has turned into a full-blown portfolio shoot, complete with A-list celebrities, super models, and social justice activists.
Selma Blair is town from LA, halfway through hair and makeup when I arrive at 8:45AM. Author and transgender rights activist Janet Mock has changed her flight and taken a two-hour car ride to make sure she’s here on time. Down the hall, actress Danielle Brooks arrives wearing a Siriano full-length salt and pepper fur coat she initially borrowed for an event earlier in the week…and, well, she wanted to hold onto it a little longer. Next to her, model Candice Huffine bemoans that she didn’t do the same with hers. All this for Siriano? In short, hell yeah.
Because, while you may think he’s just the “fierce” kid with the hair from Project Runway, Siriano has been quietly building an empire along with a United Colors of Benneton-esque fan club of women who come when Christian calls. To this crew and the dozens and dozens of other celebrities he’s dressed over the years, he is a designer who saw them when the traditional fashion industry turned a blind eye and refused to dress them. They are happy to support him on the eve of his big day because he has always done the same for them.
“Craziness,” Siriano responds when I take out my recorder and simply say “10 years.” Well, yeah.
After dressing everyone from Taylor Swift and Jennifer Lopez to Michelle Obama and Leslie Jones, craziness is one way to describe your career. He expounds on his time in business. “When you first start, you’re like, Oh my God, can I even do this? Can we keep it going? Is it going to continue?”
In addition to selling his main line to big-name retailers like Neiman Marcus, the 32-year-old has inked deals with Lane Bryant, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Payless, giving those who can’t afford his designer-priced wares an opportunity to still get a slice of the Siriano pie. “It’s so hard to predict what will happen because there are everyday challenges that sometimes overshadow the big, beautiful picture, but today it’s really nice to see all the clothes from over the years together in one place and all these beautiful, different types of women modelling them.”