Q&A: Christian Siriano on Emmys, inclusivity and New York Fashion Week
Christian Siriano made a summer stop in Los Angeles, just in time for Thursday’s Emmy nominations announcement. That night, he hosted a dinner at Chateau Marmont with 11 Honoré, the size-inclusive luxury e-commerce site cofounded by Patrick Herning and Kathryn Retzer. Said Herning, “Christian was one of the first designers we launched with and he’s still one of our best-selling designers a year later. He’s really on board with changing the game.” The designer’s inclusive approach to retail and celebrity dressing has heightened his profile, but he remains as down-to-earth and energetic as ever. “I’m always up sending e-mails in the middle of the night, because otherwise, what are you going to do? We’re there for our customers.”
When was the last time you were in L.A.?
I came for my book launch last November and for a few quick Oscar fittings in January. We dressed almost 17 people and I barely was here. I don’t know how we did that; it was crazy.
With Emmy nominations on Thursday, has your phone and e-mail already been blowing up?
We already got a couple of e-mails, which I love. Judith Light and I were texting and Leslie Jones is coming here for a photo shoot with me on Monday so we were texting because she just got nominated. It’s a great group of powerful, amazing women who got nominated. But I never know, and I also never go after anything. I let it just happen.
You’ve carved a niche by designing clothes for all shapes, sizes and ages. How do you manage all the customer requests?
That is the number-one hardest part of our business, but I’m pretty on it. You have to be, otherwise you lose. The customer is so savvy now and there’s so much out there in the world. I think fashion’s much more accessible, a whole different game. I’m so glad we were able to be at the beginning part because I think we’ve learned a lot.
But you decided from Day One to dress all types of women.
You have to commit to it and be open. It’s really interesting how even other women now want to wear the clothes even if they are a size two. They see that I’m more open to dressing all these types of people and that makes them also feel good. At the end of the day, what’s happening in our world and culture is so crazy that now more than ever fashion really should be like it once was, where it’s more fun and playing dress-up and not such a hard thing, because there’s enough hard things happening in our world that getting a dress should be the best part of the day. I think that’s why things just work out, because we have that attitude.
Why do you think it was important to be a launch designer on 11 Honoré?
It didn’t exist before and there was definitely a void in the market, and I also like the idea that it’s luxury as well. There’s fast fashion you can get in a certain size range but Neimans and Saks don’t go past size 18, which is crazy. They are huge companies that have been in business for years, and they are struggling, so it’s strange.
With Moda Operandi, I remember dropping off things from our runway to sell, and a lot of the girls on my runway were in plus-size clothes and they were like, “Oh, we’re not going to take those because our site doesn’t go up that high,” and I was like, “Well then, let’s change the site to go up that high because the whole point of my show is you can order what you see on the runway.” I remember when they first changed it; it changed their entire algorithm and now they go up to a size 26. It’s so great that 11 Honoré is doing the same thing and going up to size 28. There’s a need. My number-one customer is a private client who’s been shopping with me for the last 10 years and she probably spends more than four retailers combined every season and she’s a size 16.
How have you adapted to all the changes in our industry?
The business now is so different and all over the place, so now more than ever I just do my own thing because I can’t watch any other young brand be done because it’s so hard.
You’re showing on Sept. 8 and still committed to New York Fashion Week. What do you think its future is?
I love it and I think it still has a lot of spirit and relevance and also our customer is still really there. I’ve been filling my shows with people that have been shopping a really long time and I remember CFDA sent this e-mail like, “OK, we need to focus on the customer and what are we doing for them” and I was like, “Guys, most brands should be doing that from Day One” because it’s important to have a balance. We are all here to support each other — editors, customers, buyers — we’re all in the same business.