When we arrived at Christian Siriano’s show Saturday afternoon, we were to quote the esteemed Tim Gunn concerned. There were so many people fighting to get inside that we were convinced the entire experience would end in tears, possibly ours. Even Fern Mallis looked worried when we spotted her surveying the crowd, and if Fern’s worried, then we should all be worried. Our fears worsened when we discovered that Siriano was still conducting a run-through of the show at 4 p.m., which is when it technically was scheduled to begin.
But, as usual, our hysterical imaginings were completely off-base. The show kicked off 45 minutes late, but it was worth the wait if only to see the mock-turtleneck catsuit, crippling-but-fantastic Payless shoes, and giant, wide-brimmed hats Siriano sent down the runway.
The first thing we spied when we walked into the Promenade was, unfortunately, not one of those glorious hats, but Project Runway alum Jack Mackenroth peeking into the front-row guest bags. Predictably, the crowd was liberally sprinkled with fashion-oriented reality-television folk, from Mackenroth’s sidekick, Kevin Christiana, to a very petite-looking Nina Garcia and the America’s Next Top Model judge Miss Jay Alexander, who graciously posed for photos with countless tweens, one of whom was so thrilled to meet him that she actually jumped up and down.
But if Miss Jay inspired Beatles-era euphoria from that little girl, Tim Gunn created it in the rest of the crowd. It’s not an exaggeration to say that Tim was treated like a rock star from the moment he walked into the tent, looking dapper as usual in a gray pin-striped suit. Honestly, the man was swarmed. It’s tempting to report that he was completely surly and difficult, but that would be utterly untrue. There is, after all, a reason everyone loves Tim Gunn — including us — and it’s basically because he is awesome.
Tim, in fact, got so much attention that the more conventional celebrities were almost able to sneak to their seats completely unmolested by the press. But they couldn’t hide forever. Eventually, everyone noticed pop star Amerie (and her insanely fierce shoes), though her seatmate, Teyana Taylor, didn’t get much love. This is either because Teyena is still largely unknown among people who aren’t contractually obligated to pay attention, or because she looked so young and casual in her black jeans and sweatshirt that the photographers were duped into believing she was a particularly cute staffer who’d just decided to take a load off in the front row. We were paying attention, which means we can tell you that at one point Teyana graciously received congratulations from Tim Gunn. For what, we can not say, but we hope it’s because she’s going to be appearing on Project Runway: Minor Celebrities, a TV show we just invented. Call us, Lifetime!
A few seats down from Teyana was 30 Rock’s Katrina Bowden, who is surprisingly tall and really, really tiny. She also seemed a bit cranky — probably because people are always saying how skinny she looks — but she rallied long enough to confess that Christian is making her dress for the Emmys. Bowden’s appearance kicked off a whole cavalcade of blondes, including her seatmate, Mena Suvari, who looked kind of great in a black cocktail dress and beehive hairdo despite her distractingly incongruous neck tattoos. We also spied Kristen Johnston and decided that we want to sit next to her if we ever land in the front row: Her running commentary to neighbor Gunn was apparently hilarious, judging from his delighted chortling.
We also wouldn’t mind sitting next to Kelly Rowland, both because she cheerfully introduced herself to everyone in her vicinity, but also because we need to get the name of her facialist: Her complexion is amazing. Kelly had a nice long chitchat with a jumpsuited Veronica Webb, who was wearing a straw hat and almost pulling it off. We’d love to know what the two of them were actually talking about, but in the absence of the facts, we’ve decided they were taking bets on whether mutual friend Isaac Mizrahi will send out models wearing purses as hats again this season. Fingers crossed!
Also spotted: singer Estelle, looking cute in a new, shorter haircut and sitting next to Nina Garcia, making us hope that we’d see her on the cover of Marie Claire sooner rather than later. Speaking of cover girls, we also saw the current Star magazine headliner, Tori Spelling, sans husband Dean McDermott, which obviously means that Star’s story about how they’re both living a lie is the unimpeachable truth.
But what definitely is the truth is that Siriano went over like a pony keg at a frat party with this crowd. There was spontaneous applause for one dress — a stunning, tiered tulle ballgown — and a partial standing ovation at the close. “Wow,” we overheard Gunn declare to a reporter afterward, and we kind of have to agree. In fact, the whole thing was kind of fun. Turns out, those people fighting to get in had the right idea after all.
View a slideshow of the Christian Siriano collection.