When I arrived at the Christian Siriano spring/summer 2017 runway show, a father and his daughter had accidentally been seated in my spot — coincidentally, we shared the same last name. As we squeezed together, the precocious young girl talked about wanting to become a fashion designer. Her dad expressed his concerns about the aim for thinness the industry — and runway, in particular — seems to project. I grinned, promising him that not all catwalks were so shockingly homogenous; in fact, the show they would see just minutes later would be an inclusive one.
We were witnessing a New York Fashion Week milestone: Plus-size models walked among their more expected catwalk contemporaries. The celeb-studded front row let out a roar of approval when the first curvy model took the runway in a flirty cutout frock. Siriano has made headlines recently for his inclusivity; his collaboration with plus-size brand Lane Bryant is about to see its second season and his stylish rescue of Leslie Jones cemented him as our favorite fashionable white knight. But until today, his runways have been as uniform as the next designer, a stark contrast to his design ethos. Siriano truly believes in dressing women of all shapes and sizes and he used this runway show to send a message to the rest of the industry. “I am just trying to show you that you can do it, you can celebrate everyone,” Siriano said. “The clothes looked just as amazing on [the plus models] as everyone else. It is so great to see, they rocked it.” Standout favorites included Marquita Pring, Precious Lee, and Georgia Pratt.
As groundbreaking and important as Siriano’s casting choices were, we’d be remiss not to mention how good the clothing was, too. The designer stuck with a mostly black-and-white color palette (with pops of orange and turquoise sprinkled throughout). Bold stripes, prints, and a polished touch dominated the pieces and a smattering of lacy embellishment and dramatic details rounded out the collection. “The idea was that I wanted to take my customer on a perfect holiday in Capri,” Siriano adds. “I wanted to pack her suitcase for all elements of life, whatever she was doing on holiday. I still wanted it to be modern, though. We looked at a lot of vintage photographs from the '60s and '70s with Jackie Onassis, because she went there every summer, so the ladylike feel was there but in a more playful way.” But beautiful designs can only take you so far. Frankly, we’re bored with the same old formula so many designers seem to adhere to. Plus, so much has changed since Karl Lagerfeld once claimed, “No one wants to see curvy women on the runway.” By showing his designs on a variety of sizes, shapes, and skin colors, Siriano has proved that it is perfectly possible to consider style and representation. The bar has been raised; now it's time for a runway revolution.