Christian Siriano has never been one to wait for the fashion industry to come around on an idea — be it dressing a diverse range of people and bodies or making mass collaborations a core part of the business — for him to start embracing it. In the past, he’s weaved partnerships with brands like Payless (on shoes and handbags) and e.l.f. cosmetics (on makeup) into his biannual shows at New York Fashion Week. That continues this season, where he’s introducing a somewhat unexpected sponsor for a runway show: a big-budget movie.
As first teased by WWD, Christian Siriano’s Fall 2020 New York Fashion Week runway was presented in partnership with “Birds of Prey,” the latest DC Comics film that sees Margot Robbie reprising the role of Harley Quinn.
According to Siriano, the conversations between him and Warner Bros., which is distributing the film, first started a few months ago, when he and Ashley Longshore filmed a commercial for “Birds of Prey” to run during “Project Runway.” Afterwards, the Warner Bros. team floated the idea of collaborating on his upcoming New York Fashion Week show.
“I always try something new and different,” Siriano says about runway sponsorships. “I don’t like doing the same thing all the time — it’s just not as inspiring. I like to look for partnerships that are different and interesting. Everybody goes to shows all the time, everybody sees clothes all the time. It’s nice to incorporate something that’s new.”
At the Fall 2020 show, the “Birds of Prey” integration manifested in a few different ways. There were a handful of looks inspired by the film featured on the runway, accompanied by Harley Quinn-esque hair and makeup. Actual pieces from the set were flown in to decorate the venue. Songs from the “Birds of Prey” soundtrack were played. Cathy Yan, the director, and Erin Benach, the costume designer, sat in the front row — something that, Siriano says, is “very different for me.”
“Fashion and film, they go together. People love a movie because sometimes the character comes to life with the clothes,” he explains.
Sponsorships are “very important” to staging a runway production, Siriano says: “Listen, fashion is in a really rough time. It’s really expensive. No one’s shopping the same way. Stores are going out of business every single day. To survive, designers really are looking for something to help us do what we need to do.”
“For me, I like to make fancy clothes that are emotional, and yes, not everyone’s going to wear them,” he continues. “I need to fund that in some way. I’m a huge red carpet designer — that’s very expensive. So I look for partnerships to help offset that cost. And I always have.”
In a time where fashion week can feel like the same old routine season after season, having a Hollywood blockbuster sponsoring a fashion show adds a new element to the conversation. To Siriano, this kind of partnership makes a lot of sense: “Fashion week is a huge stage where every press outlet and VIP is in one room, so a film can get its work out there just as much as I can. It’s great marketing, for everyone involved.”
For his Fall 2020 collection, Siriano explains he was going for a “dark, mysterious evening” vibe, harking back to “a really cool, dark, old fun house.” See every single look from his show in the gallery, below: