OK Ladies (and the odd gentleman), who loves Christian Siriano? Let me hear you! Who is fascinated by how his maniacal fashion mind works as he manages to succeed in an industry that often crushes new designers and an economy that crushes everybody else? Me! I am!
I got a chance to talk to Christian at the Fall Release event for Payless at their showroom in Manhattan. I will admit that most of the information in the interview is paraphrased (hey, I had a notebook, not a tape recorder). But these are the facts. The cold, hard facts.
Part 1: Memories….la la la la
So we all remember the runway versions of Christian Siriano’s soon-to-be-ready-to-footwear. They were…aspirational. Celebrities starting wearing them even before they tripped lightly down the runway at his Fall 2009 show. Needless to say, the question of how those 7-inch stunners would be modified for a population who walks farther than runway–>limo–>premiere–>limo was foremost in my mind. Here’s a reminder of what the runway versions looked like:
Cute, but Ouch!
Part 2: Here comes the love
First of all, let me say that Siriano was the picture of graciousness throughout the Payless event. He chatted with all the journalists who were milling around, smiling and posing for photos. My Payless contact told me that he had come in on a red-eye flight that morning, but you certainly couldn’t tell by looking at him. After exchanging greetings, I dove into the interview.
Twinkletoes: Can you tell me about the inspiration for your Payless collection?
Christian: My inspiration is the diva, Cleopatra, in Egypt. You can see in the colors palette that we have the browns of the sand and the blue of the Nile. The detailing also comes from Egypt; we have inverted pyramid zipper pulls and a blue hieroglyphic-like pattern. Even the curved, conical heel is an inverted pyramid. Also, the snakeskin-like fabric is totally Egypt.
T: Talk to me a little about how your runway shoes are different from the shoes that will be sold at Payless.
CS: The Payless shoes are definitely modified to make them more wearable, but they are very similar. I designed the runway shoes with Payless, so don’t think that the retail shoes will be inferior in any way. The Payless customer wants an everyday shoe, not something they can wear just once. You can see that the retail shoes are dramatic enough with the color and the details. They don’t need to be 7 inches high for drama. They have enough drama on their own.
T: I noticed that on the blue hieroglyphic bootie, the zipper is farther toward the front of the shoe than on most ankle boots. Was there a reason for that design decision?
CS: I was to democratize fashion a little and I love it when people take something and make it their own. With the zipper moved forward like this, the wearer can actually unzip it part way and fold over the top, making a whole different look. On the runway, the shoes actually had a double zipper so that they could be modified even more.
T: How was designing your collection for Payless different from designing your own collection?
CS: Well, first of all, working with Payless was wonderful. They have so many resources so there are a million different options. At the same time, when I design for Payless, the first this I have to think about is making my design wearable, then I add drama. It’s actually the opposite process when I design my own collection. With my line, it’s all about the drama. I want it to be fabulous. If it’s not, then my take is “If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. Let’s throw a poncho on her and call it a day.” Wearability comes later. I loved working with Payless though! And there are plans in the works for more collections! I am already working on a Holiday collection and a Resort collection and there will be a Spring collection as well. This is just the beginning.
T: Do you have a deep-rooted love of shoes?
CS: Actually, my sister has over 400 pairs of shoes! And they are dramatic ones, not everyday ones. I remember that when we were little, she would get a new pair of shoes every week, so that there were so many of them in all kinds of colors. She loves shoes. One of the perks of me designing, in general and for Payles is that I can send my shoes to her and my mom. So far, I haven’t heard any complaints from them. So it definitely comes from them.
Christian’s shoes for Payless are due out in August and they are very cute. He stayed true to the runway versions for the most part, bringing the heels down a notch and dropping a chain or a spike here and there. There are also even some flats in the collection for the girl on the go. All the shoes will be priced below $50.00, which is true for all the designer collaborations at Payless. Detailed photos won’t be available until late summer, but ladies, get ready to pounce on Payless when those shoes debut. For a sneak peak at the collection check out this photo from Racked.com.
I just want to thank Payless for letting me talk with Christian so I can share his thoughts with all of you. There is more coming from the Payless event. They are a brand that has come a long way in the last several years, becoming more recognizable and more respectable. I will also be posting about their designer collaboration with Alice & Olivia and their eco-friendly line Zoe & Zac as well as some other tidbits. Stay tuned!