Siriano sends out plus size, Banana Republic heads to India

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

NEW YORK (AP) — Christian Siriano was inspired by the casual chic of Capri and earned claps for a few plus-size models who walked his runway, and Banana Republic presented looks for men and women influenced by India as New York Fashion Week continued Saturday.

Some highlights:



Five models who were NOT sample size got a few cheers from the crowd as they walked the beachy, Capri-themed runway of Christian Siriano.

Siriano's strong statement on size comes after 6-foot Leslie Jones complained in July that no designers wanted to dress her for the "Ghostbusters" premiere. Siriano made her a red gown, and he dressed the curvy Uzo Aduba in the same color Friday night at the Toronto Film Festival screening of her "American Pastoral."

On Thursday, "Project Runway" mentor Tim Gunn wrote a thought-provoking takedown of most top designers for ignoring plus-size women, considering — as he wrote in The Washington Post editorial — that research shows the average woman in the U.S. wears size 16 to 18.

"I've dressed so many different types of women and it's fun," said Siriano, who won the fourth season of "Project Runway" back in 2008. "I grew up with a mom who was a 16 and a sister who was a zero. There should be normalcy, I think."

Among the clappers for the models of size was Ashley Graham, who sat front row and made history as the first plus-size model to hit the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue this year. She counts many of the walkers as friends.

"This is a show that is so important and I think in a few years it will be the norm to have curvy women in the show alongside women that have always been represented," Graham said.

To be sure, plenty of Siriano's walkers were the usual model thin.

It's been a big year in other ways for Siriano, who got hitched to longtime boyfriend Brad Walsh at their country home outside New York City over the summer. Soon after, on July 25, first lady Michelle Obama stunned in a royal blue Siriano dress that fell just below the knee as she addressed the Democratic National Convention.

It was just the second time the first lady had worn one of his designs.

"It was an amazing, amazing moment," Siriano said backstage before his show of ladylike, Capri-inspired looks. "Every now and then it's nice to have someone like that just give you a little bit of a push that you need for the world to agree."

The collection included some cheery pops of citrus orange and turquoise in satin, with a dose of ruffles and vegan patent leather for coats and big-bowed heels. A few looks were available immediately on, in keeping with a fast-fashion push by more designers.

Was the Obama moment a game changer for a designer still on the rise?

"I don't know. It helps, for sure," Siriano said.

Siriano has never actually been to Capri, the Italian playground for the well-heeled. He was inspired by the chic elegance of Jackie Onassis when she summered there, often photographed by paparazzo Settimio Garritano.

Siriano was supposed to journey to Capri recently but held off so as not to spoil his fantasy for a collection already in the works.

"I have so many clients that spend so much time there in the summer," he said, "and it's almost like an homage to what I want them to wear next year."

--Leanne Italie and Gina Abdy



Gap Inc.'s Banana Republic brand offered a presentation of 40 spring looks for men and women, inspired by its design team's trip to India early this year.

"We were loving the idea of the old meeting the new, like technology meeting the old handcrafted ideas," said Michael Anderson, senior vice president of design for the brand. "Everybody does a lot of manufacturing in India, but we wanted to show a different side to India."

In particular, the design team was inspired by the lattice work in that country, using a vendor in Portugal to do laser cutting of fabrics.

For women, there were off-the-shoulder laser cut eyelet tops paired with matching skirts, shirt dresses styled with white trousers and pajama-styled striped shirts and matching pants. For men, there were plenty of fashions in madras plaid, including shirts, pants and vests. The collection highlighted colors that included oranges and cinnamons.

For those who can't wait until next spring, Banana Republic offered 15 looks from the women's collection that can be purchased on its website now or at Banana Republic's store in New York's Flatiron district. That capsule included a one-shoulder asymmetric dress in red stripes and a cream-colored, laser-cut blouse. It's the second time the brand made some pieces available for purchase right away.

"We want to have a deeper relationship with our consumer," Anderson said. "There is a customer who is on the edge. They want things before everybody else gets them. There's this heightened sense of urgency."

The presentation came as Banana Republic announced that style icon Olivia Palermo will serve as the brand's first women's global style ambassador. She will be featured in the fall marketing campaign. And as part of her partnership, she selected the looks that could be bought right away.

"I really want for girls to build their wardrobe and build their confidence in how to wear things because you want to be able to have versatility," Palermo said." You want to be able to take a piece and wear it to the office, and also wear it on the weekend."

--Anne D'Innocenzio