Fashion // Christian Siriano Talks Nicki Minaj & Building His Brand

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The type of success Christian Siriano has achieved is what all Project Runway hopefuls wish for. When Victoria Beckham branded his looks as fierce and expressed interest in him whilst appearing as a guest judge on the show, his fate was pretty much sealed. But Siriano knows at the end of the day it’s the paying customers not the hype that counts.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned about building your brand?

I learned very quickly that there could be so much hype and great press and I could have great girls wearing my clothes, but if the product isn’t good, if it isn’t selling at retailers, then you don’t have much to go on. If every editor hates the collection but every buyer loves it and it sells, then there you go. You work for who’s going to pay you.

How do you stay true to your artistic vision as well?

Nikki Minaj, wore [one of my] gowns on Saturday Night Live, which was amazing and creative, and not every woman in the world can wear that gown, but it’s great because I have that moment. And then I can sell a great little shift dress or a little wrap dress to a woman in Houston. It’s the same with my collections. I’ll show really wearable clothing but I like to close my shows with a big fantasy gown, because then it’s still exciting for me.

Are you still with Payless?

Yes, we’ve done [several] collections. We create these fantasy shoes for the runway and the shows—super sculptural and exciting—and then I get an opportunity to really play designer and really work for what real women can wear, everything from little flats to sandals, slingbacks, things for work, for day. So I get the best of both worlds.

Speaking of shoes, one of your models fell during your most recent runway show. How do you feel when something like that happens?

Our runway was painted, so it was very sticky and tacky and unfortunately, that poor girl, she just stepped and her foot didn’t go forward. If every girl falls then yes, the shoe’s the problem, but if not every girl falls, it’s probably just that one girl. I also have my assistants wear the shoes backstage and they were running around all day and they didn’t fall once! I was so sad, the poor girl was so upset she was really exhausted and I have to tell you these models, they go to like 25 castings in a day and they do like 6 to 8 shows. That’s a lot for anyone to run around in the city. I mean, I can’t get it done and I have a car service!

Interview by Clarissa Cruz for Inc Magazine

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