Choosing a venue for a fashion show is definitely an art. The right space can elevate a collection from something special to something sublime. Pick the wrong space, however, and your audience can turn on you before they've even seen a single look.
Such was the case at Christian Siriano's Fall 2019 show on Saturday. Held at the Top of the Rock, the venue itself was certainly notable — it's hard to beat near-360-degree views of New York City, after all. But some bad math must have happened somewhere along the line during planning: With hundreds of people attending a show in a space only reachable by a handful of elevators which can hold maybe 15 people at a time, tops, well... someone forgot to solve for X.
The "X" in this situation was the snaking line packed with editors, influencers and other show-goers which lasted nearly an hour for most — and that's if you got in at all, with several seat holders sent packing before the show, originally scheduled for 4 p.m., finally kicked off right around five. Once upstairs, guests were greeted with tightly packed rows of chairs, with the second row only accessible by climbing over or pulling out seats from the front row (and forget seeing much of the collection from back there). There's intimate, and then there's overcrowded; this fell into the latter, with seats ending literally somewhere inside the photographer pit.
Words used by guests inside included "mess" and, less polite but perhaps more accurate, "shitshow." And those who found themselves turned away might have been lucky in the end, as they wouldn't have to face the same gauntlet to leave the venue once the final look walked. Editors trying to make shows or events that started an hour after Siriano's scheduled time would find themselves out of luck.
All of this could have been fixed by slashing the invite list down and preparing guests for an earlier arrival time — but then, that therein lies the challenge of planning a fashion show. For it to be seamless, sometimes sacrifices must be made, like choosing a less exciting venue that holds more people, or a fancier spot that requires difficult cuts to the guest list. Siriano wanted everything at once, and instead, presented his Fall 2019 runway to a very grumpy group of people.
It was a shame, really, because overall, Siriano presented another lovely collection (to which, it should be noted, the venue added very little). Inspired by an imaginary future, Siriano stuck to a palette of silvers, purple and blacks with added sparkle. Eveningwear is Siriano's specialty, and it's good here, with large ruffles and piles of feathers dominating his usual shapes. He's at his best when he designs for what women actually want to wear, like a flirty cocktail dress or a suit shot through with silver thread.
Where Siriano misfires is in his attempts to go avant-garde. The pieces made of strips of rhinestones over sheer fabrics, like the closing look worn by Ashley Graham, fell flat in execution, and it's hard to imagine any woman wanting to wear a corseted dress with a completely sheer bottom, naked dress trend or no. There also seemed to be fit issues with some garments, like a white pant worn with a peplumed top that couldn't quite hide the twisted waist, or a badly proportioned white cropped tuxedo jacket. Designers, nota bene: There's nothing wrong with making just plain pretty clothes.
See the complete Christian Siriano Fall 2019 collection below: