Demonstrating a strong work ethic and business acumen, Siriano in his post-”Project Runway” days kept his couture business going by creating fast fashion lines for Payless, J. Jill and Lane Bryant. Mixing the accessible and the glam, Siriano forged his fashion-is-for-everyone image by dressing ordinary women along with divas like Janelle Monae, Lady Gaga and Billy Porter whose outsize personalities aligned perfectly with Siriano’s taste for voluminous shapes and bold primary colors. “Fabric really is my form of creating sculpture and form,” says Siriano.
His talent won Siriano admittance into the exclusive Council of Fashion Designers of America (CMDA) — that is after they initially turned him down. But despite industry acceptance, Siriano has proven himself an against-the-grain iconoclast in an industry founded on images of unattainable glamour. He has pushed back against fashion’s color, gender orientation and size barriers, as when he defiantly dressed six-foot comedian Leslie Jones in a sexy red gown for the “Ghostbusters” reboot premiere that highlighted her enviable curves when no other designer would bother.
“I think clothes are important to kind of transform yourself in a way,” says Siriano, who has helped people others have marginalized feel powerful and beautiful.
Siriano also created the first-ever dress for a male attendee when he created “Pose” star Billy Porter’s elegant-meets-outrageous formal look for the 2019 Academy Awards. Siriano paired a crisply tailored tux jacket with a lavish velvet gown. And though he’s not thrilled about naming just one outfit to define his style, when pressed Siriano admits that that look might go down as his most definitive moment.
“It was everything,” says Siriano. “It was masculine. It was feminine. It was powerful. It was conscious of the world culture. It was all the things.”
And “People Are People” reflects that enduring belief in making clothes that conform to their wearers rather than forcing people to make their bodies fit into a size 2 or 4.
“There’s probably not many historical moments where you will see in one room, from one brand, all these different types of sizes, shapes, ages,” says Siriano. “And I think that that is really important.”
“Christian Siriano: People Are People”
Through Oct. 9. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Thursdays; noon-5 p.m. Sundays. $10; $8 senior citizens and military; $20 family of three or more; $5 college students with ID and alumni; free for under age 14, SCAD students, staff, faculty and members. SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film, 1600 Peachtree St. NW, Atlanta. 404-253-3132, scadfash.org.