"We should have brought more shoes," says Christian Siriano, disapprovingly surveying the two large boxes worth of lined up pumps and gladiator sandals that his team brought from New York to Houston. It's Tuesday afternoon, and Siriano's flight was delayed, so now he's rushing through model fittings for his Spring 2017 collection—a dreamy swath of turquoise, tangerine and white dresses inspired by the island of Capri—to be worn in a runway show at Elizabeth Anthony on Wednesday evening.
Doing several things at once is basically second nature to Siriano at this point—in the past two years he's launched collections of intimates, eyewear, bedding, and make-up in addition to his namesake fashion line, established in 2008 after his victory on Project Runway, not to mention his successful diffusion lines for outlets like Payless, Lane Bryant and QVC. So despite the general chaos and ticking clock, he graciously agreed to talk to Houstonia for a few minutes—all the while keeping a watchful eye on his team and the action, occasionally breaking to recommend a certain model try on a certain look.
Houstonia: What are you working on right now?
Christian Siriano: We are working on pre-fall, which we show like the first week in December so it goes really quick. We're working on pre-fall while we're working on fall, which we show in February, so it goes quick, it's nuts, and then you feel like you don't get any time to appreciate it.
Houstonia: Tell me a little about what doing a trip like this, meeting your customers, meeting fans—what does that mean to you?
CS: It's everything—you learn what people are into, what they're not into. It helps planning a collection because you have to remember that there are all these different areas—you, know, it's not hot everywhere, so you have to think about your seasons. It's a great thing for any designer, any brand. It's really, really helpful to the process. And it's fun to come. I like Houston.
Houstonia: And I loved the shout-out to Solange to close out the Spring 2017 runway show, that was a fun moment of Houston pride for me.
CS: Yeah, I love Solange, she and I are good friends. She's amazing.
Houstonia: Do you feel like you're a little bit of an outsider in the industry?
CS: I guess it just depends ... I don't know, not really. I think mine's just more public. Every designer has come from a different place, different path.
Houstonia: Maybe it's because you're younger but I feel like you bring a different perspective more towards inclusion than exclusion.
CS: For sure. I think it's really important. I think you never want to alienate a customer. You never know who's going to going to be your next great customer. I think that's such a big thing to think about, and that's why we do it. We like to have as any different sizes, different options. I like a lot of different tiers. I like people to be able to shop [for] different things together. I think that's kinda stylish, too, that people kind of mix and match and play with what they're doing.
Houstonia: And you got married this year! Have you thought about adding bridal to your lines?
CS: We do bridal! We do a full collection with Kleinfeld's, it's one full season so far, but we only do it once a year. But we've been doing bridal forever, I've been doing bridal custom for years. It's fun, brides are fun, but listen, they're a lot of work. But I love making brides feel good and have their moment.
Houstonia: I was also inspired by a shot of your country house on Instagram and it made want to see more of Christian Siriano for home.
CS: We're doing home, we just launched it with Bed Bath & Beyond. It's bedding and it's really fun and colorful like my house in Connecticut. It's really great and we've been having a lot of fun with it and there is more in the works.
Houstonia: Do you feel like you're always drawn to color?
CS: Yeah, I like it because when we're working on something it's a good way to move the palette quickly, so that's very helpful. If I'm working on one season color helps us transition into something totally different.
Houstonia: Do you pick favorites from your collections?
CS: I do, but I don't really. Everything I like but for different reasons.
Houstonia: Like each is a different mindset?
CS: Yes, and the person, and what the situation is, and all of the above.
Houstonia: You have dressed some of my favorite people (Michelle Obama, etc.), but is there anyone you haven't dressed that you're dying to?
CS: I really try not to think about it because it's more exciting when it just happens or its random. But of course there are people that I love. I'm a big fan of Julianne Moore, Cate Blanchett, people like that, actresses that have been in all of my favorite things ... and I like that they take risks, and they're different but still very feminine and romantic type of women.
Houstonia: I want to ask you what's next, but so much has come out within the past year for you. How do you do it all?
CS: We have been so busy. It's just so much. It's crazy, but you know what is nice? Every day's different, so that's exciting. I never know what emails I'm going to get in the morning. I really don't, it's kind of insane. All of a sudden you can get a request to dress somebody at 5 o'clock that night. You never know, and that's the best part of the business, because some days the business is quite annoying and very tough, and its a lot of work. It's such a hard business to manage, so the fun moments, I like that they just happen. It's nice.
The Christian Siriano fashion show and personal appearance is Nov. 16, 7 p.m. at Elizabeth Anthony.