Christian Siriano’s tulle gowns are confections that transport you into a fantastical alternate universe. Now, you can bring his whimsical aesthetic into your home.
Last week, Siriano launched his first-ever furniture line on 1stDibs, a high-end home furnishings marketplace, as well as on his own website. The nine pieces in the collection—which includes settees, club chairs, and stools—are designed to be sculptural statement pieces. Priced between $795 and $3,695, they’re the first products to come out of his newest venture, Siriano Interiors, a full-service architecture and design firm that marks his evolution from fashion to industrial design.
Siriano first launched his eponymous label in 2008, after starring on Project Runway and designing for Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen. At 35, he’s been a mainstay in the fashion industry for a decade and a half, crafting red carpet gowns for stars like Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Lupita Nyong’o, and Priyanka Chopra. But for all his success, Siriano admits that running a high-fashion business isn’t all glitz and glamor. Most of his time is spent staring at spreadsheets and trying to stay financially solvent. “To be honest, this profession is a grind,” he says. “It’s hard to stay inspired and creative when you’re dealing with cashflow and other aspects of running of a company. I got to the point where there were days when I didn’t have the energy to talk about another dress.”
The pandemic only added to the stress. COVID-19 pummeled the fashion industry but, as a designer whose business focused exclusively on evening wear, Siriano was hit particularly hard, since demand for expensive gowns virtually dried up. He worked hard to pivot, transforming his New York workshop into a mask factory. But still, he says it has been draining to constantly worry about the financial health of his business, when he would much rather be sketching.
But when Siriano thought about designing furniture, he began to feel alive again. For one thing, he’s always loved art and creating interesting spaces. He made his first foray into interiors in 2018 when he launched The Curated, a boutique and atelier in a Midtown townhouse, whose luxe rooms he designed himself. From a business perspective, branching out into interior design made sense. Over the last year, people have spent more time and money on their homes. “Even if they are going back to the office, people now realize that your home is very important to your mental health and well-being,” he says. “They’ve realized that a beautiful piece of furniture makes you feel great and it’s worth investing in.”
When Siriano first began sketching furniture, it ended up looking a lot like his dress sketches. On chairs, for instance, there’s a round shape at the top that looks like a head, followed by a wider base that has the same silhouette as a ballgown. Rather than change his drawing style, he decided to embrace the similarities. “The furniture started looking almost like little people,” he says. “They look like little sculptures and I loved it. There are so many interior designers and I wanted my pieces to feel like they’re coming from a fashion designer’s point of view.”
The various combinations of geometric shapes make the collection feel fun and playful. While the pieces are designed to be comfortable, Siriano admits he wasn’t focused on designing the coziest armchairs or sofas. He was more interested in creating pieces that stand out and give your home character. “As with my dresses, my ideas was to bring that aspirational quality to the pieces,” he says. “I thought of them as little pieces of art for your living room.”
But there were also many aspects of the design process that were different. Siriano has spent his entire career thinking about how fabric falls on a human body, but with furniture he had to focus on the durability and comfort. He worked closely with his manufacturing partner, Kostas Upholstery, which has a network of factories in the New York area, to turn his designs into reality. As someone who works largely with fabric, he has a keen eye for texture. The wood has high shine; the seats are covered in soft bouclé fabric.
For this introductory collection, Siriano wanted to focus on a more muted palette of white, beige, and grey. But as he releases new lines, he expects to incorporate more vibrant colors similar to those he uses in his exuberant red-carpet collections. And besides designing furniture, Siriano Interiors will also take on residential and commercial interior design projects. For instance, the company is currently designing the London West Hollywood hotel in California, along with several homes in New York.
After 15 years in fashion, Siriano has started thinking about the mark he wants to leave on the world. Over the last few years, he’s used his platform to advocate for size inclusivity and sustainability, as well as pushing the boundaries of gender. With Siriano Interiors, he’s now thinking about design across many different media and sharing his point of view with new audiences. “Sometimes I think people see my work as creating frivolous luxuries,” he says. “I see it more as changing people’s perception of the world. As a creative, you have to leave a mark that’s bigger than clothes or a piece of furniture.”