Christian Siriano On The Downside Of Fashion Week

Photo: Mireya Acierto/Getty Images.
When said out loud, "Fashion Week" has a double meaning — and for anyone who's ever been a part of all the action, feeling weak is not only par for the course, it's often the reason we love fashion to begin with. So, in honor of the moments of chaos, beauty, and excitement that made us feel weak, we present My Fashion Week-ness: a compilation of accounts from some of the industry's biggest players. They're spilling their most memorable stories from Fashion Weeks gone by, and the ones that keep them coming back for more.

Despite how fun it looks, Fashion Week is long. With more than 15 shows (and their after-parties) per day, it's a lot to keep up with — and distill into what's happening next season. Without Fashion Month, how would we know what to say when you ask us, "What are the colors for fall?"

All complaints aside, Fashion Week is an important moment for designers to showcase their talents and remind us why we love (and buy) them. But the politics of that special 10-to-15 minutes can get a little...sticky. When you're an editor, it's impossible to get to every show you need to attend — it would require more than 24 hours in a day. But designer Christian Siriano has a message for those no-shows: Ghosting in the fashion world is a pretty serious faux pas.

"We [once] had seven girls pulled from a show, four major editors, and our major retailers [not] show up. All of the above didn’t come to the show. It was during the huge, crazy snowstorm [a few years ago in February], so it was for a reason. But when you’re spending the money that a show costs and then those people don't come, why put on a show? What’s the point? That's the frustrating thing with Fashion Week — for all designers and for myself.

"It all happened at the same time: All the girls didn’t show up. Then, my sales director was like, 'Okay, well, Neimans isn’t coming. They just canceled.’ Then, my PR team said, ‘These [editors] aren’t coming.’ They don’t even tell me anymore [who came and who didn't]. I don’t even want to know.

"That’s when you get really down on yourself and you feel like your work isn’t good, because people don’t want to see it. That’s what a show is: If people don’t show up, you have to take it a little bit personally. People [tell me], ‘Don’t take it personally. They’re busy.’ But this is what I do. You’re putting on this show for people to see it. It’s the same thing if you’re an artist and nobody comes to your opening — then no one sees your work. A lot of people don't get that when they RSVP and want to come, but then don't [show]. There's one editor that keeps doing that every single season — I won't tell you who it is, but it’s annoying. Just come: It’s 10 minutes. I know Fashion Week is crazy and it’s so busy, but if you don’t get to see it in the story that we’re trying to tell, then it’s not the same, I don’t think. It just isn't.

"At that show, or maybe even the show before that, I was like, ‘You know what? It isn’t as important anymore, because it didn't affect things as I thought it would.’ I thought it would be, Oh my god, we'll have no sales, no one's going to wear the clothes. It’s over. But it isn’t that, luckily.

"I changed my vision fully. Now, we invite people and if they come, great — if they don’t show up, it’s annoying, but it's not the end-all and be-all."

Here's what else he's learned: "Now, [when I put on a show], I think of it as a way bigger picture, that it’s going to be historical for me, for my brand, and for my world. I don’t even think about it in the moment — I want to remember to look back in 20 years that that was an amazing collection, a great show, and a great moment. That’s so much more exciting. I have a book coming out soon that will be archival pieces from all these different collections. It’s a whole thing — and I would never get that if I didn't have all these great collections inspired by all these different things. If every collection looks the same, white blouses down the runway, who wants to see that? Now, it's my own thing.

"I will say: It's interesting that the CFDA is now talking about this, but we have a ton of customers that come to my shows. I invite my best clients, I invite friends of clients. We fill a lot of my show now with women who want to buy the clothes and with licensing companies that want to do deals with me. Half my show is that. Let me tell you, if they want to place an order for 10 million units of something, I’m going to invite them to my show.

"That's my new thing: It doesn't have to always be the ‘coolest industry people in the world’ anymore. [We've been inviting customers since] day one, but now more than ever. And that’s what’s so interesting, because now the thing [is to invite consumers.] We have women that buy the whole collection just because they feel like they’re a part of it. Their orders are bigger than a store, so why not? I think that any designer that isn't interested in that is a problem. You need your customers to be on board with you, because then if you have a season where maybe they don't love everything, they’re still with you — whereas editors aren't. If [editors] don't love it, they're not with you anymore. They're like, ‘Okay, we're not really covering it this season.’"
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