How Christian Siriano Launched the Body Positivity Movement
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because he became a fashion influencer by making clothes for every body type.
OZY Media’s third prime-time television show, Breaking Big, airs Fridays at 8.30 p.m. ET on PBS stations, OZY.com and Facebook Watch. Join us as we explore the unexpected journeys to success of some of the world’s most influential stars. This week’s guest? Fashion powerhouse Christian Siriano.
After winning Project Runway at age 21, Christian Siriano worked hard to secure his place as a world-renowned fashion influencer. But he rose to prominence with a mission in mind: to make fashion for everybody and for every body type.
From a young age, Siriano knew he wanted to design and make clothes. Although he grew up in the somewhat conservative city of Annapolis, Maryland, Siriano always felt comfortable being openly gay and expressing himself through clothes. When he began attending the Baltimore School for the Arts for high school, he felt even more comfortable exploring his identity and his love of fashion design.
Siriano had been confident he would attend the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City for college and was heartbroken when he didn’t get in. But never one to feel sorry for himself, Siriano packed his bags and hopped across the pond to study at the American InterContinental University in London. While in England, he worked for two of his idols, Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood.
Siriano eventually moved back to New York, where he won Project Runway in 2008, launching his career. He started his own fashion line but found it tough to secure funding during the 2008 financial crisis. Siriano made ends meet by partnering with brands like Victoria’s Secret, Starbucks and LG Electronics, which earned him acceptance — on his second try — into the Council of Fashion Designers of America. After that, the opportunities began rolling in — Siriano dressed Lady Gaga for her first-ever TV appearance, and the two have become red-carpet regulars.
Later, Siriano followed his lifelong desire to dress women of all body types, which positioned him at the forefront of the body positivity movement in women’s fashion. He has since dressed Oprah Winfrey, Leslie Jones and Michelle Obama, among others.
Despite Siriano’s wild success, his friends and family say he’s still the same person. “He’ll get sassy up in your face and give you a big hug and kiss the next minute,” says Siriano’s mother, Joye Siriano. “That’s just who he is.”