His success at Fashion Week in New York has spawned collaborations and collections with major retailers worldwide. His first-ever fragrance, Silhouette, will hit stores this spring. And he has countless red-carpet success stories.
Christian Siriano is proving he's here to stay.
The Annapolis native has positioned himself among the world's top designers. And now he takes on the additional hat of judge on "Project Runway: Threads," a spinoff of "Project Runway" (the show that helped launch his career), which focuses on young, aspiring designers. The show premieres at 10:30 p.m. Oct. 23 on Lifetime.
We talked to Siriano about his latest ventures and what it's like being on the other side of the judges' table.
How did the judging position come about?
It's for a really young generation of talent ages 9 through 16. [The producers] wanted to have a designer who was still young and growing. I had been in [the contestants'] place. They wanted someone who wasn't from an older house. They [the producers] hoped it was inspiring for them to see a younger designer."
Tell the readers a little more about "Project Runway: Threads." What's different about this show?
Every single episode is a new group of kids. …This one girl — the youngest on the show — was 9 years old. She was so shy. She could barely speak. But her clothes were so amazing. …You are going to be so surprised each episode. It was really interesting.
What is your impression of the contestants?
The kids are actually really, really talented. It shows that we should still be supporting the arts and creative minds.
How were the designs?
Some of the clothes could hang in retailers now. There were obviously some that weren't so great. But you have to have that. Some were a little hot-glue happy. In general, they were some pretty great clothes.
Compare the designers on the show to you at that age.
I think they are very, very advanced. When I was 12 years old, I knew I liked fashion, but I wasn't making clothes.
What type of judge are you?
I really judge by what creative process goes into it. I try to give them advice on how to push themselves. Obviously, you have to be a little bit exciting and sassy. But I try to give them constructive criticism. I try to give them real fashion criticism.
Who's your favorite judge of all time?
Heidi [Klum]. Heidi is such a great judge. She created something from nothing. ["Project Runway"] was a new idea. Heidi was the perfect judge. She's always about pushing the boundaries. There have been tons of great judges who give great advice, but she consistently makes sense. We'll give Heidi some props.
Do you ever watch reality television?
Sadly, I really don't. I like mystery. I love "Scandal." I love scripted TV. I like to go into a fantasy world. I want to go home and watch something that isn't real. I want to watch something that will make you think.
What shows have the best wardrobe?
It's hard to say. "Downton Abbey" — I love period pieces. The clothes are really beautiful. "Mad Men" — particularly Christina Hendricks. Her look is fantastic. Kerry Washington [on "Scandal"] looks amazing. For a show to create a signature look in such a short amount of time — that's an amazing thing. It becomes iconic.
You're about to launch your first fragrance. What else can we expect from you?
[Silhouette] launches in stores in February. I have an eyewear capsule collection with Eyefly.com., in which I've made exclusive styles for them. I'm launching a handbag collection next spring as well. I'll be pushing that to larger retailers.
Tell us more about Silhouette.
I really wanted it to be a celebration of women to celebrate all sizes, shapes or shades. We worked on it about a year. It smells amazing. It has a sweet feeling, but it's not overly floral. [Supermodel] Coco Rochais the perfect muse for it. I currently sell it at christiansiriano.com. It's a fragrance that will last a long time. We want it to last for years.
You had a very successful 2014 Emmy Awards. How did that come about?
I dressed five actresses [Teyonah Parris, Sarah Hyland, Uzo Aduba, Samira Wiley, Jenny Mollen] and singer Sara Bareilles. It was a lot. Every season, we send clothes all over the place. Sometimes it works out. Some seasons we can have nobody. And you never know until they show up. They all looked beautiful.
Is there a celebrity you're dying to work with?
I have a laundry list. It depends. I recently got to dress Gwyneth Paltrow. I like Drew Barrymore. Cate Blanchett. I'm into these elegant, seasoned actresses. Julianne Moore.
I know that you like to identify up-and-coming actresses in order to work with them during red-carpet season. How important is pop culture in your life?
It is important. It supports the business and the brand. I don't always know what's always happening. I'm kind of out of the loop, but I somehow figure it out. One minute I won't know who someone is, and the next minute I'll be meeting with them and they'll be wearing one of my dresses. I love working with young actresses. … They are excited about fashion. It's new to them.