EXCLUSIVE: Christian Siriano On His First-Ever Fashion Job, Broadway Dreams And 'Fashionable Dessert'
As far as prominent designers go, Christian Siriano is undoubtedly one of the busiest. First garnering international acclaim after winning the fourth season of Project Runway at age 23, the now 28-year-old fashion figure went on to launch his namesake collection, become a red carpet favorite for celebrities and join the Council of Fashion Designers of America. Most impressively for me, though, is that Siriano has launched what seems like a billion-and-a-half collaborations with everyone from Starbucks to HSN and Payless to cleaning company O-Cel-O, all while maintaining his inimitable creative integrity. It’s a feat you don’t see often in this industry, but one that Siriano has perfected.
Next up for the high-speed busy bee: a fashionable take on the chocolate dessert bar for ice cream brand Magnum. Seem random? Well, it shouldn’t. I lept at the opportunity to chat with the wonderful, super-nice designer about this intriguing, chocolatey endeavor, and snuck in a few fun questions, too. Read on to learn how his diets have influenced his designs, what his (amazing!) Broadway dream is and why he’d love to go back in time to his first-ever fashion job at Alexander McQueen.
Lucky: Right now, you’re promoting a collaboration you did with Magnum Ice Cream. What particular factors from your design expertise did you tap into when it came to designing with food?
Christian Siriano: The whole idea behind this collaboration was that we wanted to create this fashionable dessert that everyone can love and enjoy and feel good eating in the summer. For my last collection for spring, I was so inspired by a trip to Mexico I took last year—even when I was there, I was inspired by textures from the local, delicious food, which translated easily into this world of ice cream. In working with chef Andrew [Carmellini] from Layfette [Grand Cafe & Bakery], I learned he’s also looking for the same thing when he’s creating his dishes, which are all inspired by local vegetables. We worked together really well to create something everyone can do at home.
Magnum has previously collaborated with designers like Karl Lagerfeld and Zac Posen. From where did you draw your inspiration for this project to ensure it reflected your own personal style?
Well, what most intrigued me about Magnum is that they've done such different, creative things with fashion brands in the past. I think Magnum is all about luxury with the finest creative materials, which, for me, is something that is really important when I’m designing my collection. We use designer price lines, which means that we use the finest fabrics and the finest materials. That was the process here at Magnum, they have that feeling, that same essence which is created in their dessert elements that I do when I’m in my collection. I obviously wanted to make it feel luxurious and about quality and to also make it really quite easy. So, we created this really beautiful texture on the bar, inspired by one of my lace fabrics from my collection.
With this Magnum collaboration and a new fragrance on the way, you definitely have extended your reach in a lot of different arenas. Can you tell us what’s next for the Christian Siriano brand?
My fragrance, which has been my “next goal” for a while now, comes out in September. We’ve been working on it for the last year! I’ll also be a new judge on the show [Threads, a Project Runway-inspired competition reality show for teenage designers]. Just to be able to support other designers has been amazing because they’re so, so young—they’re, like, nine and 10 years old, and it’s amazing to see how much talent they have.
Well, that segues perfectly into my next question! You were a self-described “musical theater kid” growing up. Is there one show for which you’d die to do the costumes, whether it’s currently on Broadway or not?
Cabarat is amazing! I absolutely love Alan Cumming—he’s a good friend of mine. But, I was actually asked to do the costumes for Hedwig [and the Angry Inch] back in 2009, but that timing didn’t work. That would have been a really cool project. I also love all the fantasy shows, like The Lion King and all that.
You know that they’re bringing Frozen to Broadway, right?!
I know! I can’t wait.
Right now at Lucky, there’s been constant talk about shopping for transitional pieces that you can buy now and wear into fall. What’s one item that you think would be worth purchasing now to use until, say, November?
Oof, that’s tough. You know, it’s interesting. There’s so many easy things I could say, like a great black dress or nice jacket. But I think my answer has to be the most beautiful oversized blouse, with long sleeves or big sleeves. We sell a lot of those classic silk blouses in the Elizabeth Street store, and it’s great for people who want a layering piece; we’ve been noticing that those are selling a lot more than they used to, I think because women can wear it now, but also when it’s a little colder.
And my last question, which I love to ask all the designers I interview: if you could collaborate with one designer, living or dead, who would it be?
Wow, that’s so hard. Gosh. I don’t know, to be honest. But probably because I interned at Alexander McQueen…I was very low on the pole, grabbing coffee and returning samples. I would have loved to have been able to be there longer and been able to collaborate with him, Lee, and Sarah [Burton]. Also, Oscar de la Renta, because I just love him and I so appreciate what he’s built over the last 40 years.