Christian Siriano FW21
A model takes the runway at the Christian Siriano FW21 show.

It’s hard to articulate the joy of dressing for an in-person runway show in 2021, having spent the majority of 2020 in stained sweatpants. The same can be said about Ubering downtown to Gotham Hall, the venue for Christian Siriano’s Fall-Winter 2021 fashion show. On Thursday, February 25, a small group of masked and socially distanced editors, influencers, and fashion industry leaders showed up for the “Project Runway” alum, eager to see what he dreamed up amid a global pandemic.

Even if I hadn’t forgone social interaction for nearly a year, I’d still describe the midtown venue as spectacular. A dazzling chandelier hung in the centre of the ornate, gilded ceiling, reminiscent of old Manhattan glamour. But as I sat in my seat and gazed around, I couldn’t help but wonder why Beautyrest mattresses were positioned by the runway. It took me longer than I’d like to admit to even notice they were there in the first place, but they were impossible to miss after the fact.

A little after 4 pm, my question was answered. To the tune of a moody melody, Coco Rocha and Martha Hunt sat up on their respective mattresses wearing black lingerie before slipping into pieces from Siriano’s F21 collection. A spotlight followed them as they casually got up from their late-afternoon nap and took turns walking down the runway. Rocha donned a cream-coloured belted trench with matching snakeskin cowboy boots, and Hunt donned a skirt suit in the same neutral hue, worn over a black bustier.

Christian Siriano FW21
Martha Hunt dressing for the runway after ‘waking up’ on a Beautyrest mattress.

Seconds later, lights illuminated the venue before a diverse and size-inclusive cast of models hit the catwalk. Eyes diverted from the mattresses to the runway, enraptured by the fashion designer’s extravagant eveningwear: silk charmeuse green gowns, sheer, skin-baring silhouettes, and taffeta designs fit for the red carpet. Maybelline makeup artist Erin Parsons came up with the perfect eye makeup look to accompany Siriano’s glitzy, glamorous wares: exaggerated bronze winged eyeliner.

Christian Siriano FW21
Makeup at the Christian Siriano FW21 runway show, brought to life by Maybelline makeup artist Erin Parsons.

“In a pandemic, it’s hard to stay inspired in general, so I decided to dream up another world…one that doesn’t exist anywhere but in my mind,” says Siriano in a press statement. “After a recent trip to Aspen, Colorado, to visit family for the first time in a year, I was inspired by this idea of an alternate psychedelic reality: a dream world up high into the mountains where an almost colony-like world exists.”

He continues, “This collection is a reflection of what I think fashion would be in this fantasy world, and how my customers would decide to dress. I envisioned hidden parties and cocktail hours in the mountains, with people wrapped in cashmere wool coats and vibrant, silky evening dresses. The unbelievable sunset overlooking vast landscapes inspired a sun-drenched pink and orange color palette, balanced with snow ivory creams and rich chocolate browns.”

Christian Siriano FW21
Models backstage at Christian Siriano FW21.

As part of his 49-piece collection, the designer included three secondhand designs of his, provided by thredUP, which he tweaked slightly before sending down the runway. “The ups and downs of this year led me to rethink my next collection as an optimistic vision of how we’ll dress post-pandemic,” Siriano says in a press release. “I chose to put thrifted looks from thredUP on the runway because I believe reuse will define the future of our industry. I hope my collection inspires other designers to create garments that can be worn again and again.”

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View the Christian Siriano FW21 collection fashion show in its entirety below.