Three days before Christian Siriano was set to show at Eyebeam Atelier (540 West 21st St) during New York Fashion Week, he invited us to his showroom to sneak a peek at his fall/winter 2014 collection. The designer (who, by the way, was unbelievably calm, given the circumstances) was in the midst of fittings while prepping to face the daunting task of editing down roughly a hundred pieces for 42 final looks. As he was walking us through each rack, he explains any of them was subject to elimination, "which is so sad, because I love them, but if they don’t make sense in the story in the end, you have to let them go."
And they're all beautiful pieces, too, with each clearly alluding to his muse for this season: Lisa Fonssagrives, a Parisian icon and model in the late '50s, early '60s who also served as a muse to both her photographer husbands Fernand Fonssagrives and Irving Penn. While the whole collection revolves around Lisa and her impeccable style, Siriano also took inspiration from Fernand's work who was famous for lighting overscaled prints (from polka dots to graphic patterns) and photographing them over nude figures. "It felt almost like clothing, but it was actually light and shadow, and we emulated that with fitted prints, different textures and transparencies," Siriano explains.
Walk through Siriano's showroom for a behind-the-scenes insider insight into the goings-on before a Fashion Week show. Get an up-close look at his favorite pieces, a glimpse at his mood board, and the dress he'd love to see on the red carpet.
1. The Red Carpet-Ready Dress
When asked which celebrity he'd love to see on the red carpet (like, at the Oscars) in one his fall 2014 designs, he's quick to name Cate Blanchett, pointing to a black sheer embroidered gown with cut paillettes (which ended up being the finale look). "I'm a big fan of Cate Blanchett-I think she's super chic and gorgeous. This shape is really simple, but the embroidery is what makes this gown special."
2. An Up-Close Look At the Fonssagrive-Inspired Prints
Siriano showed us a couple pieces that were directly inspired by Fernand Fonssagrive's work. "He would take polka dots and graphic prints and photograph them over nude, so it felt almost like clothing, but it wasn’t-it was actuallylight and shadow, and emulated that."
3. The Christian Siriano x Payless Shoes Collaboration Continues
"Show-wise, this is our tenth season, since 2008, with Payless. Crazy! This season, we have a sculptural heel, some that are streamlined and classic, and some with texture and prints. They're really cool."
4. Christian Siriano's Mood Board
Siriano points to his collection of Fonssagrives photographs that served as the starting point for his fall/winter 2014 collection.
5. A Panned-Out View of the Mood Board
"The whole collection is based on Lisa Fonssagrives. There's a Parisian undertone to it because she's French, her husband Fernand is French. Lisa is stunning-she became an iconic woman and this is what she loved to wear. I used old '60s references throughout."
6. The Possible Inspiration Behind the Makeup
At the time of the tour, the hair and makeup testing hadn't been done, but Siriano had an idea of what he wanted. "The hair and makeup will be influenced by the '60s, definitely, but we're going to try to make it as modern as possible. There are so many instances of a dark lip, but it might look too heavy with a strong eye, so we'll have to play around." The final beauty look on show day? A bold eye and a nude lip.
7. Final Sketches of the Looks
One of the standout pieces during the tour was a green Alpaca fur coat (the sketch in the middle), which ended up making it into the show. "This season, the colors are really rich, with hunter green, deep purple, grays, blacks and white. We kept it it very streamlined and cohesive," Siriano tells InStyle.com.
8. A Hug From One of His Favorite Models
One of Siriano's favorite models stopped by for a fitting. "Anna has been in every one of my shows, since the very first season (13 collections ago). We’ve become really good friends," he says. "It’s really fun to work with the same girls who look good in the clothes. They're like family. And if they like the clothes, they feel good in them, and it shows on the runway."
9. His Venture Into Handbags
"The bag collection is a new project-which is really great. Obviously, only select styles will show on the runway, but this is the first season. I’m really excited about it actually."
10. Siriano On Designing His Looks
"I keep in mind what the customer is going to want to buy because that’s the biggest goal," he says. "Every season we have to make sure she finds something new that she wants to buy. There’s a little bit of whimsy in the prints, making it playful so that the collection doesn’t feel too serious."
11. Topping Off Looks with Hats
Heather Huey, a couture milliner, popped by to drop off lids for Siriano's show. "Heather made them all by hand. She’s couture du jour!" Siriano says. "I wanted to keep that traditional 1960s lady feeling, so I knew I wanted to have hats. We have three different styles, this classic shape in black, a lace version and an oversized one. I'm not sure if they will all work, because we don’t want to make the looks feel costume-y at all. We want it to feel rich, and real-life."
12. Siriano On One of His Favorite Looks
"This is actually a knit! There's no real fur-it's all yarn," Siriano explains. "It's very lady, but still so cool. Even though the skirt is long, it still looks good. There's volume, but it's fitted at the top. There's a little bit of whimsy in the collection, so it doesn't feel too serious."
13. The Full Look
As one of Siriano's favorite looks (and ours too!), Siriano tells us this is one for sure will make it into the show-and it did!