Fashion designer, Maryland native, and Baltimore School for the Arts alumnus Christian Siriano opens his first boutique in the Big Apple.
Recently I got to chat with Christian Siriano about his new store (which celebrates its launch today), his upcoming collection, and some fond memories of his time spent in Baltimore.
When attending BSA, were there some places in Baltimore that you gathered inspiration from?
The teachers we had were very inspiring. What was really nice was that a lot of them showed at local galleries. I remember I had this one teacher, Kirsten Rook, who was doing this story of interesting jewelry using felt. I just thought she was the coolest girl—I loved her and thought she was a very eccentric person. I was very young and still learning, so I kind of was inspired by anything. Baltimore is a good city. It was a very creative city at the time I was there and I’m sure it still is. I think that was very helpful—being a young quirky kid in that kind of atmosphere.
Has growing up in Maryland influenced your career?
The thing about Maryland in general is that I wouldn’t necessarily say that you would think of it as an inspiring place right off the bat. I would say it’s really about the people. I have clients from Maryland that still shop the collection every season and friends that are still little muses of mine who I grew up with. I think Maryland has really interesting people that are still just as fashionable as any other city.
Describe the vision for your new store.
I really wanted it to feel kind of sexy and elegant. I also wanted you to feel like you are shopping in the Christian Siriano home or world. In a small way, it’s a “boutiquey” atmosphere, which I like. It’s not a massive store; it’s very personable. The staff is really knowledgeable about the full collection, which is important because as a designer store you are getting that special treatment while shopping. I also want you to come in and feel comfortable. I never liked shopping in stores that were so intimidating.
Will you play a big role in the store?
I’m definitely involved in what is going on in it everyday, all day. Every piece of merchandise that is there is chosen by me and decided by me. The team here and I curated the best [of my] pieces that we thought people would really want to buy and also pieces that maybe my other retailers don’t carry. Neiman Marcus is my largest retailer, but they don’t buy every piece, so it is important that the collection is really represented in my store.
You've collaborated with many companies over the years such as Payless, Victoria's Secret, and Puma just to name a few. Why is this important to you?
I have built a very large fan base and want them to have something of the Christian Siriano brand. I think Payless has been so successful because it is really designer at a great price for that fan who loves what I do, but may not be able to afford anything over one hundred dollars. I really didn't want to alienate anyone. I think every woman shopping should have the chance to feel glamorous and have something special and designer.
What should we expect to see in your Spring/Summer 2013 collection?
It's a very romantic and feminine collection. Ballerinas—more the American Ballet Theatre, ABT—inspired it. It should be very different from last season, which was dark and creepy. This one will be much more romantic and light.
Do you have one prized possession that you can't live without?
My phone is my most important thing. I always say, "you need a really good phone and a great bag to put it in."
Christian Siriano, 252 Elizabeth St., New York, NY, 212-775-8494.
(Images courtesy of Brad Walsh.)