One time, when I was about 12, I told my mom she looked like Law and Order SVU‘s Richard Belzer. She was not thrilled at that comparison, but what I meant to say was: “Your transition lenses make you look like Law and Order SVU’s Richard Belzer.”
Seeing as that is my strongest transition lenses association, when I heard that Christian Siriano was getting into the color-changing lenses game my initial reaction was hmmm. But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. Transition lenses are super practical and due for a makeover, and who better to tackle this than Christian Siriano? He’s not a fair-weather glasses wearer, he knows the glasses struggle, and with his business ethos of making fashion functional and accessible, it seems like a good fit.
I got to meet Siriano and see his glasses up close at his incredible townhouse showroom, The Curated, last week. Laid out in a room full of gorgeous pink clothes were the Transitions Lenses of the hour, which, if I may say, were pretty effin’ cute.
I asked Siriano a few quick questions about living that glasses life, designing for everyone and national treasure/fellow tall queen Leslie Jones.
Nora Taylor: I’m a glasses wearer, you’re a glasses wearer, can you talk a bit about how you think about glasses in relation to putting together a look?
Christian Siriano: Well, I’ve had to wear glasses my whole life basically, so it’s something that I’ve always thought about. But what’s so nice now is that I feel like they’ve become such an important thing in accessorizing your whole vibe. It’s like you’re picking out a bag and shoes the same as you’re picking out your eyewear.
That’s why I wanted to partner with them [Transitions] because [eyewear is] super important, and I’ve always… shown optical on the runway or in a lookbook because I personally love it. Which is why this whole thing is changing my life — because I never ever change to sunglasses because it’s annoying and now I’m like obsessed with it that I can wear them all day. I was in LA last week and I was like, “This is so easy!” so now I just have a ton of pairs.
NT: Yeah I did the switch before I came in here.
CS: I know! I didn’t know how much it was going to help me! So what’s cool is that these are originally sunglass frames but I love these as an optical frame [editor’s note: ME TOO]. How fabulous that you’re sitting in your office and you’re wearing these, I think they’re so chic and then you go outside and you have your sunglasses.
NT: You’ve become known for dressing all types of women with all types of bodies. Can you talk a bit about how that informs your design process?
CS: [W]e really don’t think about it so much, and it has become such a thing. And I think what’s important to us has always been… to celebrate the idea of beauty. We think there’s beauty in everyone, whether they’re old, young, boy, girl, whatever you want to do and if you want to wear a pink tulle ballgown, I don’t care what you are. If you’re a size 2 or a 28, I don’t care.
And I think that was always my mentality… because when I started in this business, I was looking to build a customer and I was like, Why would I alienate a customer? That just doesn’t make sense to me, and I think that that’s such a funny thing to think about but it’s helped a lot and I think we’ve learned so much about who our woman is and what she wants season after season and she’s a lot of different people because that’s what our world is.
NT: You seem like a distinctly modern designer — with TV and social media and the body positive movement…what do you hope is next in the realm of fashion?
CS: I definitely think it’s change in the realm of accessibility; where things can still be luxury and still be fabulous and beautiful and amazing but still accessible. I hate [the idea that] when people are shopping, they feel uncomfortable, I hate that idea, which is why we opened our store, so that people could come into this beautiful townhouse off of 5th avenue but feel comfortable that they could buy a $20 T-shirt.
You know… that’s a big part of fashion. I think a lot of retailers are finding that, too — that you just don’t know who is out there willing to shop anymore. There [are] no rules and people are making money in all different ways, and I think that that is what’s going to probably change the most for all of us. Accessibility is important and obviously the world of online and social media has had a huge impact on that. I mean, we can literally sell a $12,000-dollar gown off Instagram, which is very weird but we’re all figuring it out and we’re going with it.
NT: I am personally obsessed with your relationship with Leslie Jones…
CS: Did you see the video I posted of her screaming? I did a shoot with her yesterday, she’s wearing this pink faux fur coat and she’s just screaming and it’s just so funny. She’s so out of control.
NT: I loved that look of the white jacket and the glasses she wore to the Time 100 Gala. It was a perfect blend of glasses and an outfit.
CS: Well that was great because I wanted to channel Grace Jones, it was the Time 100 Gala, I was being honored, and I just didn’t want to do a normal dress for her. I wanted to give her something cool and different. And she has fun, too — she’ll really rock anything. We had such a good time, her screaming at J.Lo the entire night, and J. Lo just [jumped] off the stage to hug Leslie because Leslie got the crowd going.
Interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Photo by Jamie McCarthy via Getty Images and Matt Harbicht.