All things considered, Council of Fashion Designers of America president Steven Kolb should be personally thanking Christian Siriano — who presented his 10th anniversary collection on Feb. 10 — for revitalizing a roster of mostly fine but generally forgettable collections in this year’s New York Fashion Week.
It’s easy to feel jaded about NYFW in its current form. Several designers have left for other cities, industry turnover and turmoil are rampant, and the existential dread of it all is draining — a feeling not placated when usually reliable designers release disappointing collections. Siriano’s show at the gilded Grand Lodge in New York City, however, offered a take on the new American aristocracy that fused the best of the past with the most promising parts of the future.
The casting, for example, maintained the new standard for diversity and inclusion for which Siriano might be credited with trailblazing. In addition to the tallest and thinnest across races, Siriano cast powerhouses like Ashley Graham (who opened the show), gender nonconforming breakout star Avie Acosta, Danielle Brooks of Orange Is the New Black and Selma Blair, both of whom received applause for what were exceptionally fierce walks.
Speaking of celebrities, Siriano’s used to having a stacked front row of stars who gush about how much they adore him both as a designer and a person. This season, Laverne Cox cheered on Brooks while Meg Ryan chatted up Molly Shannon, who was seated next to Cardi B. Whoopi Goldberg — whose fashion week appearances this season have been a delight — also sat in the front row.
For all those stars, Siriano offered an extraordinary collection. Inspired by late 18th century British art, according to the show notes, regality was on high: plush coats in jewel tones, rich velvet, jacquard suiting, feathered hats and headbands, and opulent crystal cage collars on evening gowns evoked the richness of European aristocracy to a modern America sorely lacking gentility.
There were, of course, the kinds of billowing silhouettes for which Siriano is known and at which he excels. Those would be enough of a statement on its own, but for safe measure, Siriano also included turtlenecks that, in theory, would seem out of place in this collection. Ultimately, the addition punctuated an indelibly strong message: Christian Siriano has solidified his position atop American design royalty.
Goldberg, who spoke with Yahoo Lifestyle, recounted her love for Siriano.
“I’ve loved it all. [Siriano] is one of my favorite people, and I feel like fashion week is turning into people’s week. There are so many different body types that made me happy.”
While a royal family may not have a place in American democracy, fashion’s newest king certainly serves symbolic value: The people can look up to Siriano and see the best of themselves.
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Alexandra Mondalek is a writer for Yahoo Style + Beauty. Follow her on Twitter @amondalek.