Associated Press Writer, New York
Christian Siriano means business.
Last season’s "Project Runway" winner, who showed his debut collection Thursday – one day before the reality program hosts its latest runway finale – wants the fashion world to know he’s not a flash in the pan.
"I just think there are so many reality shows that people become famous but they’re not really famous for anything," Siriano said in a phone interview Monday while casting models. "At least people on ‘Project Runway’ are talented."
His namesake line, shown to an audience of the show’s alums and judges, along with actresses Elise Neal and Amanda Setton, was indeed a remarkable achievement.
Along with futuristic skinny pants and ruffled blouses, Siriano unveiled looks that are already his signature styles, like layers of chiffon circles.
But whereas his "Runway" collection was taken from Victorian styling, Siriano said his inspiration this time came more organically, from nature.
"I took some images and I came up with the idea of the colors," he said of the light and dark grays and pops of neon that he used. "And there’s the sky–I’m doing sort of a circle technique, which is like clouds, and these lightning bolts for gowns."
The theme of a stormy night was repeated in dresses covered with layers of chiffon circles like groups of dark rain clouds. A one-shoulder mini dress made from diagonal tiers of gray and neon yellow chiffon strips looked like a rainy sky lit up with lightning bolts.
A neon yellow strapless floor-length gown made with the chiffon tiers was supermodel Heidi Klum’s favorite. "There were a few dresses I thought were very beautiful," she said after the show.
"Project Runway" mentor Tim Gunn was also effusive in his praise for Siriano, whom he referred to last year as "Marc Jacobs for the next generation." After the show, he said the 22-year-old designer from Baltimore, Maryland more than met his expectations.
"I expected to be wowed," he said. "You know, in my own way I’ve been in this industry for a long time, and I’m a bit jaded, but I was blown away."
Still, Fern Mallis, who oversees New York Fashion Week, cautions against overconfidence in this flighty industry.
"It’s a bit early to be making those assumptions," she said of Gunn’s comparison to Jacobs. "But you need to have a strong ego and ambitions and be tenacious."
Siriano plans to expand his line in the coming seasons, saying that the spring collection was limited by money and time spent on other projects that came his way post-"Runway." And he has advice to offer the group of designers currently competing for his title: You better work it.
"Really it should be about the work," he said with a dramatic flourish. "Because after the show is over, you get thrown into the industry, you just have to have it all. It’s really tough. Actually, it’s killing me."
Photos courtesy of the Fashion Spot forums.