The shoes at Christian Siriano’s show were killer. No, that’s not a compliment. They nearly killed at least four models. One girl took a tumble and multiple others tripped, faltered, or stumbled; one was so completely irritated by them that she took them off during the finale walk in a huff.
But how did the clothes fare? Black orchids were the inspiration, and they appeared throughout the show as prints and later in 3D incarnations.
The first half of the show brought a fair amount of restraint. Tweed, leather, and chiffon somehow mixed effortlessly in a palette of grey and black. An occasional asymmetric panel appeared on dresses and skirts, but nary a huge pouf or exaggerated ruffle was to be seen. Snug turtlenecks were paired with some pretty fabulous trousers with over-sized cuffs. A maxi tulip skirt with a simple turtleneck was the best look in the show. Has Christian finally nailed sportswear?
A slew of black cocktail dresses came next, and the black orchid theme became a bit more literal as Christian upped the ante with some ruffles and tulle. Muted evergreen dresses with a subtle print and mauve drapey cowl-necked pieces were ladylike and lovely.
Then came the gowns in all their glory. I know they’re ridiculous, but they’re really fun to look at. An enormous two-tiered confection bobbed unnaturally, and this was topped only by the next look, which was a huge, mauve, ruffled mammoth of a skirt that was approximately the size of Queens. The poor model had to practically drag that thing down the runway, only to be faced with an impossible turn at the photog pit. She pulled it off (the turn, not the skirt), though, with a big yank of the skirt and a grin, and off she went.
Now back to those shoes. They were visually stunning: huge, hoof-like, and blinged out with gold. Is that look played out? It was like Christian went a little too overboard trying to balance the chiffon and floral theme with big angry shoes. I love a big shoe, but it’s time to take it down a notch, never mind the peril to the models. They'll be produced in some form by Christian Siriano for Payless for the fall.
The beauty was unfussy and organic, to go along with the orchid theme. Antoinette Beenders for Aveda gave all the girls a braid set, which means putting a few oddly placed braids in the hair, pressing them with a flat iron, then finger combing. The result? Wavy, natural-looking hair with no volume at the crown. Takes a bit of work to get such a “natural” look, but you can do this trick at home.
The celebs in the front row were entertaining. Alexa Chung was gorgeous and matched her dark orange lipstick to her dark orange stacked sandals. Mena Suvari, in bad bleached, teased hair and Christian’s runway shoes, took pictures of herself on her Blackberry. Gabrielle Union sat next to her smiling and generally looking flirtatious.
Every season Christian Siriano gets more polished. Most importantly, he doesn’t forget who he is and what he loves. He likes volume and drama, but is now learning how to express it in more subtle ways, like those trousers. Bravo.
**All photos: IMAXTREE