There Was a Twirl-Off at Christian Siriano—and the Front Row Loved It

If you want to feel like a modern-day Blair Waldorf for an evening, attending the Christian Siriano fall/winter 2022 runway show at the Empire State Building, sitting front row across from an A-list celebrity roster, high fashion drag queens, and legendary models stomping the catwalk is an excellent place to start. This was my first fashion week as a fashion writer and trend researcher (and part-time TikToker, known for my analytical takes on trends and fashion discourse). When ELLE.com kindly asked me to cover Christian Siriano’s show, titled “Victorian Matrix,” I had to pinch myself—cue the imposter syndrome—but we suck it up and say yes to everything during NYFW.

Upon arriving at the Empire State Building promptly at 6 P.M. on Saturday night, the queue to enter wrapped around the block lined with flash photography and larger-than-life guests. Siriano’s shows are always deeply rooted in his loyal community; known for a star-studded celebrity front row, this season included Danielle Brooks, Susan Sarandon, Drew Barrymore, Alicia Silverstone, Mj Rodriguez, Aquaria, and Symoné, to name just a few. I’ve never been one to swoon over ~famous~ people (living in New York City you become numb to celebrity sightings), however, spotting Symoné wearing a 4-inch wide neon green tulle ball gown absolutely took my breath away. Tika the Iggy, the most stylish Italian greyhound on Instagram, was also in attendance, wearing custom Siriano and sleeping on her assistants lap for the duration of the show. Classic!

new york, new york february 12 l r danielle brooks, hannah waddingham, drew barrymore and alicia silverstone, attend the christian siriano fw 2022 runway collection on february 12, 2022 in new york city photo by jamie mccarthygetty images for christian siriano

Danielle Brooks, Hannah Waddingham, Drew Barrymore, and Alicia Silverstone standing in the front row.

Jamie McCarthyGetty Images

The collection featured experimental fabric manipulation techniques paired with dreamy, romantic, and classic silhouettes, and as the name would suggest, meshing both precious and futuristic influences à la the Victorian Matrix. Combining tulle, latex, denim, and velvet into the same collection while maintaining cohesion is no easy feat, but Siriano managed to do just that. The final four looks consisted of voluminous hoop skirts in a thick, textured floral print, cut-out tartan, corseted latex, and Coco Rocha closing it out in a hooded, quilted lace number. A big hats off to the model casting team, proving once again that Siriano’s shows have one of the best displays of body diversity during fashion week; other brands need to get on this level, and fast.

Tones of blue united the whole show together, opening with indigo, then moving onto cornflower, denim, navy, and lapis. At times, the tonal combinations felt somewhat disjointed, but were typically overpowered by grand silhouettes or texture, rendering the color palette the least interesting element about the outfit overall. Playing on the romantic details was Siriano’s use of sheerness juxtaposed with heavier elements, like combining a mesh corset with a maxi-length silk skirt. This specific pairing really tugged at my heart strings, so much that I audibly gasped when I saw it. Where Siriano truly shined was in his pared down looks; he can really smash out a stunning pantsuit and jumpsuit, while quietly showing his refined skill of understanding and honoring a woman’s figure.

My favorite moment—the one that made my eyes well with tears—was watching the last two ball gowns worn by Karen Elson and Coco Rocha, in what appeared to be an unplanned joy-fueled twirl-off for the front row. Danielle Brooks and Drew Barrymore absolutely lost their minds, which prompted the audience to erupt in cheers, followed by a standing ovation for the man of the hour who trailed after the two models with his signature sprint down the runway.

fashion siriano

Karen Elson walking the runway.

Angela WeissGetty Images

The whole experience felt like a movie, and it was an honor to witness in person. After the show wrapped, I floated in a daze to catch the train home to Brooklyn. The subway was delayed underground for 35 minutes, and I was glad to be brought back down to reality, otherwise part of me would have expected Chuck Bass to appear with a bouquet of peonies on my doorstep, which would have been a disappointing alternative to the night I actually had. Brava!

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