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'Project Runway' Winner Christian Siriano Launches Flagship Store, Celebrates Fashion’s Night Out

The season 4 designer and youngest person ever listed on Crain’s 40 Under 40 list is the only winning contestant with a New York storefront –- and he’s got advice for fellow designers.

Heidi Klum and Christian Siriano at his NoLita boutique opening
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Just hours before filming the finale of Lifetime’s Project Runway, designers of the show’s current season greeted fans at Lord & Taylor’s Fifth Avenue flagship store in New York City for Fashion’s Night Out.

Two floors below, past competitors Jay McCarroll, Nick Verreos and Mondo Guerra promoted L&T’s capsule collection celebrating the show’s tenth anniversary. Nearby, show judge Michael Kors hosted “Kors Karaoke” at his Madison Avenue storefront with guest judges Nikki Reed, Kate Upton and Nina Arianda.

But many Project Runway fans ventured to NoLita and lined up for the chance to meet Christian Siriano, the eccentric season 4 winner who hosted his first FNO event at his brand new store.

“It’s so cool to be in my own space for Fashion’s Night Out,” Siriano told The Hollywood Reporter, who has represented his Payless collaboration at FNO for the past three years. “I was very nervous that people wouldn’t really come!”

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Originated by Vogue editrix Anna Wintour as a local economic stimulus to shop, FNO has evolved into an international celebration of the fashion industry -- often complete with complimentary champagne and discounts on designer brands. Last night, fashionistas had their pick of luxurious makeovers and pillow fights at Alice + Olivia and performances by Cindy Lauper at Manolo Blahnik, Vanessa Carlton at Saks Fifth Avenue and Questlove at The Hoodie Shop.

However, Siriano approached the evening by casually advertising the event on Twitter and greeting guests at the door himself. His boyfriend, DJ Brad Walsh, updated the brand’s social media platforms while mixing music and sipping on Moet. Siriano’s design team doubled as sales assistants for the evening, and the store manager rang up purchases of apparel, accessories and Siriano’s book Fierce Style: How to Be Your Most Fabulous Self on an iPad with the Square app.

“Tonight is really about the fans, which is really cool,” said Siriano. “I really wanted people --anybody -- to be able to come and shop.”

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Siriano and his team hosted FNO just after celebrating the store’s official opening the night before. As the only winner in Project Runway history with a self-titled storefront in NYC, he celebrated with Heidi Klum, Girls actress Allison Williams and stylist and reality star Brad Goreski, among others.

Throwing his FNO event meant pausing last-minute preparations for Siriano’s ninth Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week runway show this Saturday.

“In the first five seasons, the days before [the show] were really hectic because there’s so much to do; it’s a lot of trial and error when you’re a new brand,” said Walsh to THR. “It’s so amazing to be done a week early. When you get fittings done a week before, and castings two weeks before, it makes such a difference because you’re not so stressed at the last minute. But everyone’s gotten their shit together. We’re done, we’re ready. We could go on now!”

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Walsh, who has always produced Siriano’s runway soundtrack and is releasing a new dance album next year, teased that the upcoming collection is “delicate” and “ballet-inspired” with plenty of “dramatic pieces.”

“It was kind of like doing a movie score -- I have a string quartet, I have horns, but there’s still some beats. It’s a symphony with a beat, basically. This took me two months to do, and it’s by far the most involved song I’ve ever done.” Siriano’s show on Saturday afternoon is just over ten minutes long.

Like many designers this season, Siriano is opting out of showing at Lincoln Center. “I show at the [art and technology center called] Eyebeam, and I do that because I really like to do whatever I want!” laughed Siriano. “Lincoln Center -- it’s a little bit of a different atmosphere, a more corporate Fashion Week. But I have to say, I did show at Lincoln Center for two shows and I did love it.”

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To Siriano, it doesn’t matter as much where designers show during Fashion Week, but where they manufacture the pieces that eventually walk the runways.

“I think the important thing is any New York designer needs to work as hard as they can to keep the garment industry alive in New York City -- keep the jobs, keep the manufacturing going,” said Siriano. “I love my factories in New York. We produce everything here, and I think that’s really important. 100 percent. I have to tell you -- the women who are really spending money care where their clothes are being made.”

With an official store opening, Fashion’s Night Out, a Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week runway show and an accompanying after party, how does the Christian Siriano team manage?

“Junk food," he confessed. "We eat cupcakes all over the office, I want McDonald’s…it’s crazy!”

What do you think?

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