Hollywood style darling Christian Siriano gives an exclusive peek into how he designs in a diversity of styles and sizes
by Hunt Ethridge
Christian Siriano, designer, brand owner, and dresser of Hollywood’s elite—and the man whom Project Runway host Tim Gunn described as “his generation’s Marc Jacobs”—has established a singular agenda for his new lines. He told us in an exclusive interview that he has set out to do nothing less than “dress every woman.”
“I grew up with a mom who is a size 16 and a sister who is a size zero, so I never thought that wasn’t normal; I just assumed you had to dress everybody,” he said.
In pursuit of that goal, at Siriano’s recent Fashion Week show, he featured models of every size, color, and shape, and made mention of a new line, Spring Bridal 2018, which includes sizes from zero to 26 (the average U.S. woman’s size is 12/14).
“Being true to what you love is so important,” he said of his new designs. “Don’t be what everyone thinks you need to be. I found what was working, and it just took people a little longer to catch up. I want to celebrate women, no matter what size, age, or place they come from. That has always been our goal, and I’m proud of that.”
Siriano made mention of famously six-foot Saturday Night Live cast member Leslie Jones lamenting on Twitter that no designer would dress her for the Ghostbusters movie premiere. With less than two weeks before the event, he jumped to the rescue, designing a red dress with off-the-shoulder straps and a high slit, accessorized with silver heels and a statement necklace.
Born and raised in Annapolis, Maryland, where he attended Broad Neck Senior High School before transferring to Baltimore School for the Arts, Siriano (of Italian and German descent) started designing clothes for his hair clients when he was just a 13 year-old styling assistant. He enrolled at the American InterContinental University in London, UK, and while honing skills there, interned for Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen. In 2008 he debuted his eponymous collection.
He quickly became a staple of the New York style scene, and dressed the who’s who of Hollywood, including Gwyneth Paltrow, Sarah Jessica Parker, Emily Blunt, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Tina Fey, and Oprah Winfrey, as well as fashionistas like Victoria Beckham and Alexa Chung. He has been dubbed “the new king of old-school glamour” by Elle, “the next billion-dollar designer” by Yahoo! Style’s Lauren Sherman, and in 2013 was inducted as a member of the Council of Fashion Designers of America. He married singer-songwriter Brad Walsh in 2016 at their country home in Danbury, Connecticut.
“I was not going to be a young designer who was out of business in five years,” the Chelsea, Manhattan resident added. “So, we just decided to focus on what was working in each collection and make sure we continue to offer it season after season. We are opening new a new retail store in New York soon and will expand into other cities shortly afterwards. Also, our international market is growing so much, which is exciting.”
“It was never an intentional thing,” Siriano said of his emphasis on creating a diversity of sizes and styles for women. “It was one of those things that just kind of happened as the days went on. I think it’s great that we’re just doing what we do—and then it turned into a thing. It’s worked because I’m just into women—and for my design, it’s all about the body. I had the two total extremes [growing up], and now I see that everywhere. Even in my office not every girl is a size zero. What do you do if you’re a designer and your own team can’t wear your clothes?”
Photo of Christian Siriano by Sara Kerens