The designer is giving catalog brand J.Jill a fun mini makeover.

By Samantha Sutton
Sep 12, 2019 @ 4:45 pm
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If there’s one designer out there who seems to be doing the most, it's Christian Siriano. On top of creating extravagant gowns for our favorite celebrities and ensuring that his clothing flatters all ages and body types, he also collaborates with affordable brands — the latest of which is J.Jill

While that particular name may bring back memories of catalogs and mom-approved staples, Siriano made it his mission to incorporate newness and trends into the mix. With this first (but far from the last) drop, he designed eye-catching button-downs, work-ready dresses, and even a teal-colored puffer jacket, all while making sure each and every item rang in under $199. Plus, much like his regular line, Siriano wanted this collaboration to be size-inclusive. Shoppers have the ability to choose from sizes XS to 4XL or 0 to 28, and they can shop Petite and Tall categories as well. 

VIDEO: Christian Siriano: The Man Who Dresses Everyone

 

Ahead, Siriano shares his reasoning for collaborating with J.Jill, why he originally chose to put curvier models on the runway, and why he'll continue to work with stars that other designers won't dress.

RELATED: Billy Porter Doesn’t Understand Why People Spend $2,000 on Sweats

How do you pick who you collaborate with?

It’s almost like I look for a little bit of a challenge. J.Jill has never done a collaboration before. They definitely have a very specific customer — a little easier, a little more wearable — and I wanted this to push her. Still be J.Jill, but like exciting, elevated, a little more glamorous. So that's how I usually pick collaborations. I'm like, “Okay, would this be challenging? And could it be successful?”

It seems like you try to collaborate with brands that we love during the ‘90s, and help bring them to our attention again. Is that true?

Exactly. I like that feeling. I'm also interested in brands that are doing great things, like letting me make this collection in sizes 2 to 28, and letting me shoot on all these different types of models. Not every brand is like that.

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So many brands still aren't size-inclusive. What are your thoughts on that?

It's crazy. I get asked to do jobs all the time, and I'm like, “But…you don't really like people, so why do you want me?” That's what was so important. Obviously, this customer is a little specific and a little older, but the brand was like “No, we want something new, we want something exciting.” And that, to me, is really nice to see and hear. I like that the drop-down window online is 2 to 28 and these sizes are not in another section.

Some designers put plus-size clothing on the runway that they don't end up making. Can you talk about your own experience including curvier women in your shows?

I started putting curvier women on the runway was because I was so sick of buyers saying, "Oh, my customer can't wear that." Well, you don't know that — what are you talking about? So I was like “Okay, I'm going to show you.” And it looks great on her. I don't care what her bra size is. I was so over it. It was like, “Stop saying that my clothes are not for certain women — that's not true.” Or that you have to be a certain age to wear this or whatever. So we shut that down.

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When you're designing staples, how do you switch things up?

For this customer, I really tried to push her just enough — color; doing an iridescent, metallic cropped jacket; bold oversize graphics. Pushing her to things that maybe she just has never seen at J.Jill. Things that are still wearable, but can still be kind of new.

Listen — it won't be for every single person in the world, but the goal is that the J.Jill customer gets excited again. I think that goes away sometimes, and I think that's why partnerships like this are fun. It's nice to branch out. And this is going to be a long thing — we're not just one and done. We’re launching holiday in November, then we have collections next year. I hate when collaborations go away too quickly. Because I think people are like, “Oh, okay, I didn't really get anything so it's fine." If they miss out on this one, there's more to come.

And then you can kind of see what people are gravitating toward, right?

Exactly! It's kind of like when designers take over a brand or take over a fashion house; it's really hard when you don't give us a chance. If I do a ton of flutter-sleeve dresses and she hates flutter-sleeve dresses, I'm screwed. So, give me a chance to see what's going on.

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You seem to have made your mark in the industry as someone who dresses people that, for some reason, no one wants to dress.

Yeah, which is hilarious, because now they're all getting huge movies. It's fabulous.

Why is that important to you? Why have you taken it upon yourself to dress these stars?

You never know what's going to happen with anyone. I mean, yes, there are times where I can't dress everybody. But I think there are certain moments for actors and musicians that are important, and that you should try to support. I hope that we can continue that as much as we can, and I think I'm pretty open minded to what will be a hit and what won't. Sometimes I'm like, “Uh, do they get it?” Like Billy Porter in a gown at the Oscars. That moment…not everybody was going to love that, but actually, they did. But we had no idea. So we just go for it now. I'm like, “Listen, if it works, it works; if it doesn't, whatever."

Where do you find your inspiration?

From anything. I remember when we were doing Ashley Graham for the CFDA Awards, I was like “Let's do ‘old Hitchcock film’ — you've never really done like a film-noir-type vibe.” And that was one of her favorite moments ever. She looked so amazing. Or, when we did Janelle Monae, we were like, “Let's make your eye blink at the MET Ball.” That could've gone so wrong, but it was amazing because she was walking around with her eye blinking all night.

Christian Siriano for J.Jill is available to shop now.

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