At Christian Siriano, Joyful Optimism and Regal Clothes

The designer celebrated 10 years with A-plus casting, an extravagant venue, and a celebrity-filled front row

To see the full Christian Siriano Fall 2018 Ready-to-Wear collection, click here.

Before launching his eponymous label in 2008, Christian Siriano got his start working in London under Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen. Fitting, then, that the 32-year-old designer, known for his celebrity-favorited red-carpet confections, looked to the 18th century British art that hangs in the Queen’s Gallery in London when designing his Fall 2018 collection, which he presented on Saturday at the extravagant Grand Lodge in Manhattan. 

“I wanted to throw it back and do this British-royal-palace vibe,” he said backstage after the show. “I wanted opulence. I wanted glamour. I wanted it to be special and beautiful and amazing.” Siriano, who’s celebrating 10 years, accomplished all of that during his Fall outing.

He employed the same much-needed progressiveness seen in his Spring 2018 runway show back in September, sending a cast diverse in size, gender, and race down his catwalk. Ashley Graham, clad in a plush red wrap coat and thigh-high see-through Payless boots (part of an ongoing collaboration with the brand), opened, while Candice Huffine, Georgia Pratt, Precious Lee, and Jocelyn Corona followed. Orange Is the New Black’s Danielle Brooks walked too, sashaying down the runway in an ethereal turquoise gown. She nearly tripped at one point, but handled it with an unbothered grace. 

Siriano has a close relationship with celebrities, so naturally they made up the bulk of his front row. Cardi B, sporting a lime green suit from his Spring collection, shook her head in awe at some of the looks, whispering every so often to her stylist, Kollin Carter. Brooks’ OITNB costar Laverne Cox was practically jumping out of her seat with excitement, while Whoopi Goldberg, Meg Ryan, and Molly Shannon elicited audible gasps. Selma Blair walked, too—Siriano said he’d been inspired by her bravery in the #MeToo movement. (Blair, along with Rachel McAdams, accused director James Toback of sexual assault and harassment in October.)

This being an anniversary show, Siriano revisited some of his most notable looks over the past decade, sending out a lineup brimming with metallic jacquard suits, slinky beaded dresses, dreamy tulle, and a good number of truly regal ball gowns, the best of which came toward the end in fire-engine red. I especially liked Siriano’s more casual pieces—a black patent dress with ruffled sleeves looked cool, as did a sexy little strapless dress with an iridescent sheen to it. 

Before being whisked away to take pictures, Siriano, wearing a T-shirt and his signature thick-rimmed glasses, said he wanted to to bring “the return of glamor.” For his finale, models walked out to The Cranberries’ “Dreams,” circling around massive gold columns before standing in place. I didn’t get a chance to ask him if he chose the track in honor of Dolores O’Riordan, who passed away last month, but it didn’t matter—it was breathtaking. 

Siriano’s Instagram is flooded with appreciative comments from fans. “Thank you for acknowledging reality,” one user wrote. “I had to adjust my eyes while viewing your show—I’m used to seeing thin models and feeling left out. Now, I see it’s possible to look fierce in this body,” another said. Designers like Alexander Wang, who just utilized visibly unhealthy models to showcase his Fall 2018 collection yesterday, would be wise to follow in Siriano’s footsteps, not to be part of a short-lived “trend,” but to make people feel human again.

That said, any good fashion show should make people feel something. It doesn’t necessarily need to feel positive, but it should, at its core, make the viewer feel like they exist in the world. I left Siriano’s show feeling less jaded and a bit more hopeful. Fashion ought to pay more attention to Siriano. He’s got his finger on the pulse. 

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