While most of the American fashion industry retreated into the digital realm over the past 18 months, Christian Siriano remained loyal to the IRL fashion show format, first carting editors out to his home in Connecticut for a socially-distanced show in September 2020 and then an off-calendar return to the city in March 2021.
Surely, that had much to do with the fact that Siriano doesn't exactly make garments intended for 2D consumption. His bread-and-butter are gowns that sing on a red carpet or pop in a music video, clothes that need context to breathe and thrive. A short film or a simplistic lookbook aren't quite going to cut it. He never even abandoned his love of over-the-top glamour in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis, showing frothy gowns and "Vote"-emblazoned suit sets through it all. All this to say that Siriano's show at New York City's Gotham Hall on Tuesday evening didn't mark a grand comeback of any sort for the designer — which means there was nothing particularly exciting to anticipate from his Spring 2022 collection.
Siriano looked to the Italian women in his life for this go-around, mining photos of his grandmother on holiday in the Positano of the '60s and '70s for inspiration. That might call to mind Fellini films in theory, but in practice, the collection felt like it had much more in common with my '60s-by-way-of -the-'90s middle school bedroom: oversized shapes, acid-bright neons juxtaposed with translucent materials that were sweet, sure.
But there's a reason most good baking recipes call for some salt, and that's because you need something to cut through the sugar to create a balance of flavors — like how the poppy citrus-toned lamés and sheer black laces felt incongruous with one another. Siriano has proven he can excel at the fantasy, but seems allergic to the reality. (The heels, for example, were impossibly shaped, both sitting too high and pitched too far forward, in a way that felt even more constricting than the precise shaping undergarments women might have worn in that era. It would've been refreshing to see a simple espadrille or a chic flat sandal.)
It's lovely that Siriano has made a name for himself as a go-to red carpet choice for people of all sizes, and, as always, it was refreshing to see a runway reflecting a body-positive sensibility — points for Siriano which must always be rewarded no matter what the clothes. But he has yet to navigate a path towards becoming that same kind of resource for customers without occasion. An upcoming collaboration with iconic '70s denim brand Gloria Vanderbilt, teased by a group of models at the finale, might help, but grounding his designs in reality would go much, much further.
The most fun look of the entire evening was worn by Marina, who performed her set in a kind of "Laugh-In" suit set covered in fringe. That proved Siriano has more modern fare in him, if he were brave enough to abandon the puff.
See the full Christian Siriano Spring 2022 collection in the gallery, below.