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Christian Siriano Comes to Birmingham!

The models were dressed, the lights were low, and the seats were filled.  Everything was in place for the show to begin, but I don’t believe anyone was mentally prepared for the absolute beauty of the fashions they were about to see gracefully walk down the runway.  This past Tuesday, October 25, famed designer Christian Siriano came all the way to Birmingham to show his Spring 2012 collection at Gus Mayer at the Summit for the Gus Mayer Goes Pink event.  All proceeds of the show went to benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation of Alabama.  


Best known for winning Season 4 of the hit reality TV show Project Runway, Christian’s designs have been making huge waves in the fashion industry for the past few years.  At only 25 years old, he has already worked for some of the most influential fashion houses such as Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen, and Marc Jacobs, and his designs are now being worn by many of our favorite celebrities down the red carpet.  As the winter doldrums approach, Christian gives us something inspiring to look forward to with his Spring 2012 collection.  Models strutted down the runway in chic palazzo pants, striped blouses, and cinched waist dresses.  His use of coral truly astounds, as do his playful accents of chartreuse.  What makes the clothes in this collection so appealing is his pairing of basic with extravagant.  In this collection, an already beautiful nude colored dress is taken to new heights with brightly colored accessories.  He is a designer that realizes simple makes a statement, and it all comes down to perfect pairing.  HerCampus UAB got to sit with the “fierce” designer for a brief moment to discuss his collection and hear his advice for young collegiettes! 

Karla Khodanian and designer Christian Siriano


HC: I saw you did a lot of internships, particularly in London, and how did those influence you and help you as a designer?


CS: You know, I always say that internships are the best learning experience, especially when it’s a brand that’s hands-on.  Some companies are not that way, so it just depends where you are.  When I was at Westwood it was different because we were able to do a lot, but we weren’t really able to be a part of the collection.  That was fine, and I learned a lot there, but it was different from what I learned at McQueen because McQueen was very hands-on, and everyone there worked on something.  So it just depends, which is nice.  It’s kind of like what I do with my interns now.  Some interns are more capable than others so you just give them more responsibility. 


HC:  What inspired the collection we’re about to see today?


CS:  For Spring, I wanted something that was really colorful, light, and fresh, and something that had a little bit of whimsy to it.  She’s kind of like a cool California girl, but she also likes traveling, so that’s kind of the idea.  There’s this film called Summertime with Katharine Hepburn and she goes to Venice- that was really kind of the beginning, and then it kind of evolved into imagination and further developed.  I wanted it to be like summertime chic, but still have things that are exciting and fresh.


HC:  Is this your first time to Birmingham?


CS:  It is, first time, it’s very exciting.  I don’t really get to do much, which is sad.


HC:  What inspired you to start a collection for Payless?


CS:  We’ve been doing it now for over three years, so it really just became something that’s developed.  It’s really just something that I felt and they felt we wanted to bring a designer brand that people can come back to season after season.  That’s how most people shop anyways.  They find the brands that they love, and they will try new, but they will go back season after season.  And that’s what we wanted to do with the shoe.  We wanted to do a collaboration that wasn’t just a one time thing like how so many things are, like with Target and H&M.  This way it’s more of a brand.  I think also it’s great if you’re young or on a different budget, it’s great to have accessories that are more high fashion.  It’s wonderful.


HC:  What’s next for the Christian Siriano brand?


CS:  We’re doing bridal, which we’ve been doing that for a while now.  There’s always something going now, but we’ve been traveling a lot.  We’re already on to fall in just a few months, so it just goes so quickly.


HC:  Where do you get most of your inspiration from?  Is it from music, film, or the people your around?


CS:  It’s anything.  Inspiration is literally anything and everything.  Sometimes it’s just imagination, sometimes it could be a girl that I know, it could just be so many random things. It just depends on what the mood is because sometimes, everyone asks “What’s your inspiration?”, but sometimes it literally isn’t that interesting.  It’s literally I just think I want to do something really interesting for a cool girl.  That’s what I find so funny because you never know.  It’s just great!


HC:  Very cool.  What are some of the basic fashion staples a girl can have to make herself super chic but still stay within a college budget?


CS:  I think you have to be careful with what you buy.  Obviously accessories are a really great way to make a “look” look great.  Sometimes a fabulous bag or a great pair of shoes with your jeans and t-shirt is really exciting and special.  But I think you have to have a few splurge pieces, like a really beautiful jacket.  Like maybe it’s a jacket that has something, I don’t know, a little extra special.  Maybe it’s a cashmere, maybe it’s a nice blend.  You’re wearing it over everything anyway in the winter, so you kind of have to make it exciting.  I think that’s a good splurge, and I think obviously a perfect black dress is always gorgeous.  And you can find a great dress that’s inexpensive.  I think it’s okay to have a more expensive jacket and have a less expensive dress, and vice versa.  In college, everyone always has their favorite pair of jeans, and it’s like everybody either puts a t-shirt or a hoodie with it, but why not an interesting blouse?  People sometimes forget that blouses are a great way to be cute and interesting.  You can get tons of blouses that are colorful and printed that are not expensive.


HC:  I know you didn’t have your typical college experience because you lived abroad, but what is some advice you wish you had gotten during those college years?


CS:  I think sometimes what I noticed was that a lot of students over-think things.  You have to really find out what’s important to you and your career path.  I feel like in college and in school in general everyone always tells you everything is so important, and everything is, but to be honest if I hadn’t had worked in so hard to have a focused area in fashion and get internships with designers, and instead I was working on a thesis, what would that have accomplished me right now?  You really have to be able to juggle, of course. But can you imagine if you’re a writer that’s so into becoming a journalist or whatever you maybe, but you’re really struggling in your sciences or whichever, and there’s so much pressure on you for that?  Really, it shouldn’t matter so much.  And that’s with fashion.  Some designers when they’re in fashion school they worry about “Oh, I have to make this pattern” or “Oh, I have to make this jacket,” but really you don’t.  You just have to focus on that one thing that’s really amazing.  If you’re really good at jackets, that should be all you do for that year.  So, I like to think of it that way.  You have to really find your thing.  Everybody is really good at everything now, you know what I mean?  Especially with the computer and internet, it’s like you have to be extra special at that one good thing.  To get the job too!  If everyone is graduating from your college with the same degree, and that’s how it is in fashion a lot, who is special?  When I went to college, my freshman year I showed this little selection at London Fashion Week at this fabulous hotel/club/room type of thing.  That was my first year!  And that first thing really made the teachers really help me.  They were like “We want to help you because you’re passionate about it.”  If you’re really into it, it works out.  And those are my two cents.

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