Designer Christian Siriano just opened a store here in Westport called The Collective West. There was local buzz, there was national buzz, but the buzz in my head was - who is Christian Siriano?
Yes, I can be 'last to the party' but that means, sometimes, I arrive just when the party gets gooood...
It took only one story to make me fall in love with him.
When Leslie Jones posted on Twitter that no designer had offered to create a dress for her movie premiere, Christian replied with a 'raised hand' emoji. He has created lovely looks for her ever since.
So - when I met Christian in person, I told him this is what won my heart. He replied, "Leslie is amazing, we laugh all the time!"
Christian Siriano & Kerstin Rao
I awkwardly asked if we could take a selfie. He took my phone and styled it himself, picking the background, and holding my phone at a flattering angle. Swoon!
I told him I'm a retired schoolteacher (turns out his mom was a teacher, too) and now I've opened a business around my artwork. I showed him my current drawing in progress - blue hydrangeas - and he said, "Wow, that is a LOT of detail! How long does it take you - like, months?"
My Nantucket Blooms work-in-progress drawing
We were chatting like old friends and I was enjoying every second!
There's a lovely CBS Mornings segment that tells more of Christian's story which I encourage you to watch if he is new to you, as well.
You may be surprised to learn that Christian designs for all body types and price points. He has designed for Payless Shoes and the sizes in his store go from 0 to 30. You can feel like a respected shopper no matter what you look like or how much is in your budget.
Of all the charming things in his store which includes jewelry designers, an art gallery, and other collaborating brands, my favorite item was his original, signed sketches for sale. Seeing the energy, the joyful colors, the lively lines filled me with affirmation that I've chosen wisely to pursue my own artistic dreams.
Christian Siriano with his original illustration that I now own - squee!
I did get a bit cheeky and suggested it would be amazing to see my drawings incorporated into a dress of his design... We will just leave this idea magically in the air and see what evolves...
Feeling & flow in Christian's designs
The other evidence of Christian's kindness is the people he attracts to his store. I spent about 20 minutes chatting with the affable bartender for the event, learning about his family and how he views life. Then I ran into a local friend whose whole family taught me how to support my sister Sarah during her diagnosis and treatment for Acute Myeloid Leukemia.
My friend Ellen, beautiful inside & out
I left Christian's store not just with a beautiful, original Siriano drawing, but also with a full and inspired heart.