“Inclusive is the new exclusive,” or so goes one fashion designer’s new motto. In the world of fashion, only certain sizes have been glorified on the runway and pages of popular fashion magazines. Sizes 0 and 2 have been the coveted sizes in the fashion industry since its inception. But there’s a new, fresh face out there defeating the odds and knocking down unrealistic beauty standards and sizeism one at a time. He is the champion designer for all women and the only size he recognizes is size sexy. Who is this man? Designer and Project Runway season four winner Christian Siriano.
It has been eight years since his big win and it seems he fell into the reality competition curse where some contestants just fall into oblivion. It wasn’t until comedienne Leslie Jones went on Twitter to rant about her disappointment in having no designers coming forward to dress her for the premiere of her movie Ghostbusters that he returned to a spot under the limelight.
Jones tweeted, “It’s funny how there are no designers wanting to help me with a premiere dress for the movie.” She went on to say “Hmm, that will change and I remember everything.” Well, things did indeed change, because Siriano had seen the tweets and responded with waving hand emojis signaling that he would be the one to help her get red carpet-ready for the premiere.
He had barely two weeks to create a jaw dropping dress for Jones. “With Leslie, it was really important to make sure the dress was quite classic because everything else was so strange, everything was such a social media thing,” said Siriano. “So I felt it was important that the dress wasn’t weird.” The simple yet striking red gown was beautiful, soft and feminine on Jones and it incited praise and rave reviews for Siriano.
His next design would be worn by none other than First Lady Michelle Obama at the Democratic National Convention in July. Siriano created an elegant cobalt blue dress that The First Lady wore when she delivered her speech. This was the second time Siriano dressed Obama; the first was for the funeral of fallen police officers in Dallas. The New York Times heralded him as a designer all about “catering to women regardless of age or size.”
During New York Fashion Week, the most important fashion event of the year, Siriano set his sights on debuting his Spring 2017 collection with a Capri-themed collection and runway show. The clothes were beautiful, each piece prepared to take a woman from the boardroom to the social scene. But what nabbed the attention of both fashion fanatics and media giants alike was Siriano’s inclusive runway show.
He debuted five plus size models along with straight size models in his show. Many believed that his move to showcase plus size models in his show and even have plus size model/designer Ashley Graham sitting front row meant that he was making a statement for body diversity in the fashion industry. Unfortunately, Siriano’s intentions were not as political as some thought.
Siriano said, “I just wanted to have different sizes, that’s all it was. But it’s great that it made such an impact. I’m glad people were excited. I really didn’t think people would even think about it.” Regardless of Siriano’s intentions, his actions have made a statement that beauty comes in all shapes, sizes and colors. The five plus size models that were in Siriano’s show were not only diverse in size but also ethnicity. This brought so much praise for the German-Italian designer because he has taken a torch to the usual runway show comprised of white size 0 models.
Fashion mogul and TV personality Tim Gunn wrote in a recent Washington Post essay that the average American woman wore between the size 16 and the size 18. Siriano’s incorporation of “curvy” models reflects his dedication to catering to the women who go into stores and buy his products, not just the women who get paid to keep their silhouettes slim and their jeans slimmer.
Siriano just launched his second collection with the plus size clothing store Lane Bryant, which sells clothing in sizes 14-28, with many pieces priced between $50 to $100. When asked in an interview why he was so comfortable making clothes for plus size women he said “I grew up with a mom who is a size 16, and a sister who is a size 0, so I never thought that wasn’t normal. I just assumed you had to dress everybody.” And Siriano is doing just that, making clothes that fit and look good on every body.
“Everybody is shocked by things that are different…but it will be normal one day to see every size on a runway and in the front row and at fashion week and events” said Siriano.