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Armani Conquers China, Chastises the Pope June 01st, 2012 @ 11:53 AM



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Christian Siriano’s Global Reach

Godfrey Deeny
September 09th, 2010 @ 8:31 PM - New York

Christian Siriano is generally regarded as the most talented American designer to have emerged from reality TV in the past half decade. Make that the most talented designer anywhere to have emerged from popular television. Though based in New York, his spring 2011 collection shown in New York Thursday, Sept. 9, the opening day of the runway season, owed as much to Asia as his hometown the United States, the result being a hybrid and exotic take on American sportswear.

Siriano ranged across the globe for inspiration and the more ethnic and Asian inspired the looks, the stronger they were. His fashion brand is very much a work-in-progress, and has been ever since he exploded into the public’s imagination by becoming the youngest-ever winner of “Project Runway.” But it does not lack polish.

His program notes cited Africa, India and China as influences, i.e. a continent and two countries that comprise roughly half of the planet’s population. Yet, he distilled his foreign inspiration into some rather chic daywear, which opened his show in the purpose-built fashion runway center in Lincoln Center.

Thursday also marked the first day the New York season has been centered in its new uptown digs, after being located in midtown Bryant Park since 1994. The new, larger premises certainly looked classier, with plusher seating and carpeting, larger entrance space and a slickly done entrance – a giant faux cut stone wall that aped the surrounding arts center, and finished with a witty detail - the “stone” wrapped around a silver woman’s miniature bust.

Inside on the catwalk, before an audience of 600 that included actor Alan Cumming, a major league Siriano fan, the designer opened with a series of white cotton looks, jaunty cutaway dresses, with mega buckled leather belts, or pencil pants paired with trim safari jackets.

The show also heralded the fruit of Siriano’s partnership with mass-market shoe brand Payless, and the produce was the tastiest element visually in the show. From platforms with cantilever bridge inspired cane heels to super hero looks with primary colored heels in orange and red and snakeskin uppers with Chinese filigree shapes, they all looked very of-the-moment. Partly motivated by African Zanzi booties, Siriano explained that some heels were meant to evoke the native tools used by tribal people. Yet if the inspiration was raw, the result was sleek.

For evening, the designer perhaps tried a little too hard, ruffling nearly even edge, especially when using the brash blood red or silver star burst prints that dominated his runway. His silhouette, however, was admirable, cut with contemporary yet forgiving curves, and a good four inches above the knee.

“Spring is very feminine and pretty,” insisted the 25-year-old designer. So was this collection.

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