5 Plus-Size Models Walked in Christian Siriano’s Fashion Show

Glamour/September 2016


This is not a drill! In his ongoing quest to champion diversity, Christian Siriano walked five plus-size models down his New York Fashion Week runway—and dressed Ashley Graham, who sat front row.

We know what you’re thinking: Similar castings have been done before (just yesterday, Chromat used five curvy girls)—but Siriano’s effort is unique thanks to his growing list of feats in size diversity. You know by now that he stepped in to dress Leslie Jones when no one would style her for her Ghostbusters premiere. He also made plus-size blogger Nicolette Mason a custom wedding dress. And if you’re a size 14 or above, you might just own something from his Lane Bryant collaboration. Impressive, amiright?

Well, we’re not the only ones who’ve noticed. In fact, the designer’s push for change has recently scored him profiles from major media outlets. But since we had the inside scoop on his fashion week casting, we sat down with the designer between fittings (see one below on model Georgia Pratt!) to chat about what it took to use bigger models and how he’s changing his business to be even more inclusive.

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Glamour: Was this the first time you’ve used plus-size models? How do you feel about it?
Christian Siriano: Yeah, and it’s great. It feels very easy, because now we make more sizes available—and we made samples ahead of time.

Glamour: Take us through how that works—because most designers’ excuse for not using curvier models is that the sample won’t fit them. How did you make it happen?
CS: We preplanned a little bit. We knew we wanted to have curvy girls in the show, so we pre-made things that I thought would work on their bodies. I made 12s, 14s, and 16s in pieces I thought would look good on those sizes, and then we altered them on the girls. Who, by the way, came in our normal casting. It was amazing. We saw 450 girls!

"I met these models through my Lane Bryant collaboration—Ashley Graham [above, at the SS17 show], Precious Lee, all the girls," says Siriano. "They're very influential, and it was such an easy transition to work with them.”

“I met these models through my Lane Bryant collaboration—Ashley Graham [above, at the SS17 show], Precious Lee, all the girls,” says Siriano. “They’re very influential, and it was such an easy transition to work with them.”

Glamour: Beyond the runway, if someone goes into a store to buy a Siriano piece, what size do you go up to now? And what size do you want to go up to?
CS: We go up to a 14, in general, but I would like to stock size 20 and 22. We just got an order at Kleinfeld’s for a size 26 wedding dress. Those sizes are some of my biggest clients—our number one customer is a private client who is a size 14. It’s a big business, but obviously it’s a huge expense financially.

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Glamour: Beyond the runway, if someone goes into a store to buy a Siriano piece, what size do you go up to now? And what size do you want to go up to?
CS: We go up to a 14, in general, but I would like to stock size 20 and 22. We just got an order at Kleinfeld’s for a size 26 wedding dress. Those sizes are some of my biggest clients—our number one customer is a private client who is a size 14. It’s a big business, but obviously it’s a huge expense financially.

Glamour: So what’s the solve? Being selective in what shapes you think will sell well in sizes above a 14?
CS: Not necessarily. We are taking a risk: This season is when we make production, we will make a full size run of stock. We will have every size available. That’s the goal—so we might go out of business next year. Ha!

"Anybody could wear Christian's designs and I love that about him," says model Precious Lee, above. "Being plus shouldn't keep you from being able to buy quality, stylish, body-embracing pieces. And he is one of few designers that gives us that."

“Anybody could wear Christian’s designs and I love that about him,” says model Precious Lee, above. “Being plus shouldn’t keep you from being able to buy quality, stylish, body-embracing pieces. And he is one of few designers that gives us that.”

Glamour: Wow! Did you foresee becoming this crusader for inclusivity and size diversity?
CS: No, it was never an intentional thing. It was one of those things that just kind of happened as the days went on. I think it’s great that we’re just doing what we do—and then it turned into a thing. I think it’s worked because I’m just into women—and for my design, it’s all about the body. I also grew up with a mom who was a size 16, 18, so it wasn’t new to me to have a voluptuous woman in my life. And my sister’s a size 00. I had the two total extremes, and now I see that everywhere. Even in my office not every girl is a size 0. What do you do if you’re a designer, and your own team can’t wear your clothes?

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Glamour: I think a major turning point was when you dressed Leslie Jones when no one else would. Why is it important to you to be one of the first designers to dress people?
CS: I really just like to dress people that I’m a fan of. When that happened with Zendaya, I just thought, Oh, my god, she’s gorgeous and so cool. No one knew a lot about her at the time. The same happened with Lady Gaga: I dressed her for her first TV appearance ever, and it was because I thought she was an interesting person—and then everyone else agreed. It’s more interesting to get actresses and musicians early on, and it’s also more of a challenge. It’s not always a challenge to dress a fashion it girl. I mean, I love it, I’ve dressed Gwyneth Paltrow and Alexa Chung, but it’s fun to really make someone unconventional look amazing. It’s way better! The women that we dress for the Emmys is going to be really great—it’s super diverse this year…

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Glamour: Do you fear backlash for supporting such diversity in the fashion and celebrity worlds? Have you faced any?
CS: I don’t fear backlash because, at the end of the day, I think the clothes look good, I know that these girls look great in these dresses, and I know they feel good. Even fitting Georgia, I can tell she felt really hot in that dress. And that’s really fun to see. At the end of the day, I love to create change. I think it will be nice if then there’s a new wave of a totally different fashion it girls.

Glamour: Last question. Did you have to unlearn any stereotypes about size and fashion that the rest of the industry can take note from?
CS: The only thing is that I can’t tiptoe around things. I was slowly leaning in because I was just nervous. But you just have to embrace it! In this fitting with Georgia, I kept saying, ‘I want to see your body. I want to see your butt. I want to show your curves.’ I can’t be like, ‘Oh, do you mind if we put you in something fitted?’ because you have to be up front about what it is. I’m celebrating her figure in this dress, and that’s OK. I didn’t the models to think that I’m treating them in a different way than any other girls.

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— Lauren Chan