On Tuesday morning, designer Christian Siriano was back on set filming the second episode and challenge of the upcoming season 19 of Bravo’s “Project Runway.”
“We have a long way to go, but it’s [filming] every day — we have long days but we’re making it happen — it’s going to be a really good season. Really young, amazing talented designers that all need to support their businesses,” he quipped over the phone.
Not only has the designer made a return to the fashion competition’s television set as a “Project Runway” judge, but he has also been hard at work jumping back into bridal (although he technically never left). While Siriano took a pause from debuting full bridal collections since April 2017 (with his spring 2018 bridal line), custom wedding gowns and attire had become a big part of his business ever since. Noticing not only a boom in the bridal industry, but an accompanying gap in the plus-size bridal market, Siriano wanted to focus on designing bridal options for every woman in lieu of a resort or ready-to-wear collection. Offering dresses up to size 28 for the Bridal Spring 2021 collection was of utmost importance to the designer.
“I felt like it was the perfect time because all of our brides we had all last year are now actually getting married! We felt like we should do a new collection that was for that optimistic woman who was excited about getting married again, excited about having a wedding,” Siriano said. “The whole collection is not necessarily, ‘having to have this inspiration,’ but more of some of my favorite silhouettes that we’ve done over the years and how we could incorporate that to feel new and fresh.”
For the robust, 26 look collection, Siriano reworked hallmark silhouettes he’d previously sent down the runway — an ivory silk rendition of fall’s standout apple-green charmeuse gown — or red carpets — a strapless body-hugging number originally designed for Niecy Nash for the 2016 Emmy Awards (said gown became one of Siriano’s most requested custom bridal looks). Additionally, Siriano approached the collection the same way he would new eveningwear designs: with modernity in mind.
“I think sometimes, people can associate the bridal business with something maybe a bit dated, or not as exciting as putting the coolest new handbag down the runway. That’s fine, but I want to approach it that way,” he explained, later adding, “I took a lot of customer feedback and put it all into this. In an interesting way, the customer and brides really are channeling everyone’s bridal collections nowadays, because it’s not enough to just have beautiful, fabulous clothes. You have to make sure your customer is interested in them. That was super important — like I said, maybe this collection isn’t for everyone, but it is for OUR brides who are emailing us all day, every day. That’s who it’s for.”
Like his main line rtw, Siriano’s bridal collection is centered around inclusivity and optimism.
“I think people really are lost in this market,” Siriano said of the need for modern bridalwear in the plus-size market. “You get a customer that’s so happy, so excited and they feel amazing, feel great and it’s a good [business]. It really is a win-win, that’s really important. Especially with everything that happened in the pandemic. I don’t want fashion to go back exactly how it was, I can’t do it. That’s my mentality there.”
Not only do styles go up to size 28, but the line offers a mix of glam, masculine-feminine fashions for customers requesting a genderless look, as well as fiercely feminine attire. For instance, hybrid tuxedos, fantastical tulle gowns, romantic slips and midi dresses, voluminous ballgowns and so much more. Pricing wise, Siriano noted his sweet spot is between $5,000 and $6,000, although the collection does offer dresses starting at $1,800 as well as options for brides looking to spend $30,000, $50,000 or more.
“A little bit classic and timeless but a little bit cool, a little bit something that feels in-the-moment and right now,” Siriano said of the collection, adding, “I think there will always be a ladylike element, because I personally love that in clothes, but with this collection, it does feel a little bit more younger and fresher, that’s been fun to play with.”
While a majority of the collection comes in classic wedding whites, the injection of color upholds the youthful spirit, like a sweet blush-toned, tea-length tulle frock or bombastic, ombré pink gown, to accompany the uptick of new types of wedding ceremonies. For brides requesting a more sexy post-ceremony evening look, he debuted a singular black number with crystal trim. Overall, Siriano’s collection succeeded through his mix of playful nontraditional and modernized, glam traditional wedding attire.
Wanting to offer brides attainable options, the line was designed with the idea of “click and buy now.” For the first time, Siriano’s bridal designs will be available almost exclusively direct-to-consumer (aside from a few international retailers who the brand has always worked with) online via christiansiriano.com, with the additional option to customize later on.
“Our standard is six weeks, which is pretty fast; we’ve been doing things in three weeks, it’s pretty crazy,” the designer explained. “I think that’s a little bit why I’ve been able to keep going in this business and succeed. If somebody needs something quickly, we can do it. We work hard to make sure people are getting things not a year later. I’ve always been that way.”
Speaking to future bridal collections, Siriano and his team are figuring out what’s best for business. Although some collections might be bigger than others, the idea of debuting new bridal collections at least once a year was noted of importance.
“I think for our company, we’re going to introduce it as we would a resort or pre-fall. I think it has to, especially in the occasion world of evening dressing, this is still the one place people will still really shop. So that’s why we’re doing it.”
Siriano’s biggest advice for brides after an unprecedented year? Wear whatever makes you feel fantastic.
“We’ve been having multiple conversations with all of these brides that are coming into our studio lately — we didn’t see brides for a year and now have brides almost every single day coming in. What my team and I tell them is, ‘Go for your ultimate, complete dream, fantasy everything, whatever that is! If it’s a slipdress, fine! If it’s a humongous, 10-foot ballgown, you have to do it, because you never know what’s going to happen.’ I think everybody needs to live to the fullest that they can because we all see what can happen in our world.“