Christian Siriano reflects on glam career and new book, ‘Dresses to Dream About’

It seems like Christian Siriano has been around forever – though he’s only 32.

In 2008, the fashion designer from Maryland became the youngest winner of “Project Runway” (Season 4) and went on to become one of the show’s most successful alums, launching his namesake label that same year.

Siriano also is a red-carpet favorite with celebrities from Sarah Jessica Parker to Rihanna.


He recently was in Houston to show his collection of glamorous dresses and gowns at Elizabeth Anthony in Uptown Park and to sign copies of his new book, “Dresses to Dream About” (Rizzoli, $40).

Siriano talked with the Houston Chronicle about the lessons he’s learned in the fashion business over the past decade, why designing for all sizes is a priority and what he does for fun.


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Q: You’ve been around for a long time, but you’re still young. How does it feel?

A: In February, I celebrate 10 years in the business. I’ve learned so much over the years. I’ve learned about the customers as they grow and how to adapt to them. I’ve learn to do the things that work for me, even if people judge and don’t agree with it. I push that aside and do my own thing. I’m a pretty decisive designer. I think that’s really helped in my career, and it’s why I’m still here.

Q: You’re one of a few top designers who design for women of all sizes. Why is this important to you?

A: I think it’s very strange to not have clothes for women of every size. At the end of the day, we’re in the business to sell clothes. I just think it’s weird to not champion people who have a different shape and size. These are our customers. I can’t imagine not having clothes for these women.

Q: At New York Fashion Week in September, you even featured women of different sizes on the runway.

A: We’ve done that for the past four seasons now. I love doing it because I think the customers, again, can see themselves in the clothes a little bit more. It’s important to show that people are different and that everyone should feel beautiful in their clothes.

Q: Do you think you might be influencing other designers to expand their collections for all sizes?

A: I hope so. I hope they get the clue.

Q: Your new book, “Dressed to Dream About,” is a celebration of beautiful dresses. Why did you want to do it?

A: I wanted to showcase my work over the past 10 years and show what goes into making clothes because it’s so much work. People sometimes think clothes just show up in a store. I wanted to show the process, from a sketch on a piece of paper to a real, beautiful thing that people live their life in.

Q: There have been many “Project Runway” designers who have come and gone. What’s your secret to success?

A: My biggest thing is you just have to work hard. You have to be obsessed with it because it’s a really tough business. You also have to make sure your clothes fit people. Fit is the most important thing. It’s easy to get a customer one time, but to succeed you have to get them coming back season after season.

Q: What do you do for fun?

A: Fun? Hmm, I guess I’m allowed fun. I go dancing.

Q: Do you really?

A: I really love dancing and love hanging with my friends. We throw a lot of house parties, which is always fun. Otherwise, I like to chill and do nothing. I like to watch TV and eat good food.

Q: What’s the one thing that would surprise people to know about you, like, do you have a bunch of tattoos?

A: I mean, I do have two sleeves full of tattoos. But most of the people know that because I wear T-shirts a lot. But other than that, hmm. I’m a great ice skater.

Q: Really?

A: I’m an amazing skater. I’m Nancy Kerrigan. I used to ice skate a lot. I just love it.

Q: Do you live in New York?

A: Yes, and I have a house in Connecticut, too.

Q: Do you have pets?

A: Two dogs, Topper and Bear. They’re Chiweenies (Chihuahua-dachshunds). They’re so cute, and they’re so lovable.

Q: When did you get married?

A: Like a year and a half ago, but Brad (Walsh) and I been together for almost 10 years. He’s a musician. He just released an album a few months ago, so we’ve been very busy with releases, the book and album. He photographed my entire book; every single photo was taken by him. We collaborated, and he did such a beautiful job. I mean, the photos are so stunning.

Q: What else have you collaborated on?

A: He does the music for my show every season. And then our life collaboration.

Q: What would he say about you?

A: Oh, God, I don’t know. Who knows? I’m bossy.

Q: You’ve dressed so many celebrities. Is there anyone you want to dress whom you haven’t yet?

A: I had dreams of so many people, and they’ve all come true. But I haven’t dressed Cate Blanchett. Angelina (Jolie) was on my list, and I dressed her this year. It has been a good year.

Q: How did you end up creating a line of press-on nails?

A: They just came out for the holidays. It started from New York Fashion Week. The models backstage had really horrible nails from other shows and things. We needed to find something quick. So I worked with this company, and we were able to do it so fast. That’s why these nails are awesome. Literally, you put them on, and then you take them off.

Q: What else do you have in the works?

A: We’re doing a beauty collaboration with e.l.f. Cosmetics, which is really exciting. We’re doing some beautiful palettes. It’ll all coming out in January. Then we’re opening a new store in New York. That’s my big project. That’ll take up all next year. I had a store downtown (in New York). We just closed it so we can open a new big one. It’ll have other brands involved that I curate.

Q: What do you do for the holidays?

A: Christmas is always with the family at my mom’s house in Maryland. We usually go there and do it big. I definitely spoil the family, for sure. They get lots of gifts.

Q: What would be the best gift to get you?

A: Oh, I don’t even want anything. I have so much stuff. I’m an interior lover, so I do like pillows, tapestries and cool things from other countries. I’m also a big antique lover, so my mom has bought me different pieces.

Q: What brings you joy?

A: I think just making people feel great in clothes. It’s the best thing. Seeing women on the street. Someone sent me a picture from the subway the other day of two different women carrying my bag. That’s so great. I like people that live their life in my clothes and feel good in them. I think that’s the best thing.

The Magic Lamp by Ben Okri — after the dream

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