Fashion designer Christian Siriano showcases his inclusive collection at SCAD FASH

SCAD Atlanta's spring 2022 "People Are People" by Christian Siriano. (courtesy of SCAD)

Christian Siriano’s bold creations are currently on view at the SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film. The celebrity fashion designer entered the industry after winning “Project Runway” season 4 in 2007, and he’s since created designs for luminaries such as Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama, Lady Gaga, Lizzo and many more. The exhibition “People are People” is on display through Oct. 9. “City Lights” producer Summer Evans spoke with Siriano in person at the museum, who shared his story of the years before and after his swift rise to fame with “Project Runway.”

Obsessed with fashion since childhood games of dress-up with his mom and sister, Siriano attests to dressing and designing for his family “all the time.” “I thought my mom was quite stylish, but I think my sister was really stylish and really loved clothes, and she also was a ballet dancer,” Siriano said. “I love the ballet. I love the opera. That world, yeah, it’s just a beautiful fantasy.”

Sadly, the clothes Siriano made from his breakout 2007 season of “Project Runway” have all since been sold at auction. But Siriano looks warmly back on those creations, saying, “When you start your career … there’s no rules. How fun is that?” Nowadays, Siriano upholds a brand identity and works to fulfill his clients’ visions, so he attests to a bit less freedom. But the rewards of dazzling his clients are worth it and often lead to celebrity recognition. “I’ve made things in this room that just weren’t even really for the celebrity, to begin with. They were just for a fashion show or part of one of my collections, and then they get worn by a famous person. So, it’s awesome,” said Siriano.

One notable figure sporting Siriano’s bold design was actor and singer Billy Porter, who turned heads at the 2019 Oscars in a tuxedo gown by Siriano. “Billy wanted to look regal and appropriate for the Oscars, but … Billy is a little bit more daring with what he wears, and he loves clothes that are feminine,” said Siriano. 

Actor Billy Porter at the opening reception of Christian Siriano’s “People are People” at SCAD FASH. (Photography courtesy of SCAD)

Though the dress had its share of naysayers, both Porter and Siriano were unapologetic. Their gown thrilled audiences who saw it as challenging to restrictive ideas about Black masculinity. “It became such a moment because the first man to wear a dress on the Oscars’ red carpet was a big deal for a lot of people. A lot of young people, too, you know — young kids being like, ‘Oh wow. I feel like I can wear what I want to wear now.’ That’s pretty cool,” Siriano said. 

SCAD Atlanta Spring 2022 exhibition, Christian Siriano’s “People are People.” (Photography courtesy of SCAD)

Another significant conversation piece in the museum is the dress Janelle Monae wore to the Met Gala in 2019. Siriano described the dress: “It really is like an abstract Picasso face, in a way. We wanted it to be very surreal.” The dress featured a split design with one half of Monae’s torso jacketed in black and the other half a bra cup topped with a stylized blinking eye, beaded with black feathers suggesting eyelashes. “It blinks on an automatic timer,” Siriano added. “It’s obviously not wearable for every day, but really cool. One of my favorite things we’ve ever made.”

SCAD FASH’s Museum of Fashion + Film is showing “People Are People,” a collection of creations by Christian Siriano, through Oct. 9. More information on the exhibit can be found at