Who is Christian Siriano? If you divided up all Americans who know his name (and that is a lot), more than ninety percent would be those who remember him from his 2008 Project Runway win and the ensuing publicity blitz. But… why? Why did Siriano take hold of the public’s consciousness, when Jeffery Sebelia and Leanne Marshall (the 2007 and 2009 winners, respectively, for those of you scratching your heads) barely registered? Is Siriano really, as Tim Gunn said, his generation’s Marc Jacobs?
The jury is still out. Because the other ten percent who know Christian Siriano are the people who really know and care about fashion, and they’re not as easily swayed by a (very successful) Payless collaboration or an SNL parody. Siriano has some amazing talents – he can design for a variety of body types, he can make a giant gown without getting prom-y, and he has a keen eye for being in front of trends that will successfully filter down to the mass market. But even those strengths combined is not enough to explain his current success. The truth is, Siriano is a designer for the Twitter generation. He speaks in soundbites and looks like an anime character, and he gets a lot of attention for it. In short, he’s cheated a little on his way to the top (doesn’t everyone? Diane von Furstenburg looks at the floor…), but that’s ok, because gaming the system can help put you in the limelight, but it’s not much help if you want to stay there.