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Every woman, regardless of age or size, deserves a perfect white blouse and a great holiday dress, and Christian Siriano has embarked on a new partnership to make that happen.
The designer (who has made a name for embracing women of all ages and sizes, both in his runway shows and on red carpets) is now collaborating with apparel brand J. Jill to design capsule collections that reflect his inclusive attitudes about fashion at prices that are decidedly lower than his signature line. The first grouping drops Sept. 12 in J. Jill stores and JJill.com and comprises fall-focused separates, dresses and accessories, with clothing ranging in sizes XS-4XL and 0-28; all pieces are priced between $39 and $209.
In a studio at New York’s Chelsea Piers recently, Siriano took a break from working on his spring 2020 collection (which debuts during New York Fashion Week on Saturday) to talk about the decision to partner with J. Jill. “I like to work on things that are a challenge for myself — the J. Jill style has always been a bit more easy and classic, and I wanted to bring a little more glamour to that customer’s life,” he said. “And we’ve never done a collaboration that was a full size range, so in this case we get to do everything.”
Among high-end designers, Siriano was an early adopter of age and size inclusivity on the runway and red carpets. He has developed a wide range of star clients as a result, including Leslie Jones, whom Siriano famously stepped in to assist with a custom red gown for the 2016 Ghostbusters premiere when the Saturday Night Live alum tweeted that no designer would work with her on a dress. Other recent clients include Whoopi Goldberg (who since has launched her own size-inclusive clothing line for Neiman Marcus), Laurie Metcalf, Debra Messing and Ashley Graham.
Pieces in the J. Jill capsule collection are meant to suit a complete lifestyle, from looks that are office-friendly to more casual styles or a dress that works from daytime to a dinner out. A focus on tailored white blouses also exists within the collection.
“We really wanted the clothes to be very wearable, with options that work for every woman’s lifestyle — for the customer who needs a sleeve, give her a sleeve, for example,” Siriano explained. “We pushed J. Jill into a couple more pieces than maybe we should have had, but I was thinking about women like my mom, who’s 72, or my sister, who’s 36 with kids, and creating something each of them would love and want to wear.”
“Christian is known for his design inclusivity and, like J. Jill, believes that style is for everyone. He’s a natural collaborator for us,” said Linda Heasley, president and CEO of J. Jill, in a statement.
Siriano also has created a T-shirt with a fashion message: “Kindness is Strength.” He says: “It’s a phrase that sums up my whole business and the way I like to work. I believe that people who are kind and who celebrate people for who they are, those are the people who get ahead in the world.”
The T-shirts ( $49 and $55) give back 100 percent of the proceeds to the J. Jill Compassion Fund, which donates to community-based organizations around the U.S. with a focus on supporting and empowering women.
A second, more holiday-focused collection will be released Nov. 6. The ad campaign for that grouping features Maye Musk, who also will walk in Siriano’s fashion show Saturday, she confirmed at Thursday night’s Fashion Media Awards. Among the looks Musk wears in the holiday capsule collection is an easy sweater dress, a gold knit embellished with a subtle shimmer.
“I thought about what the J. Jill customer didn’t have, and there wasn’t any event dressing for her,” Siriano said. “But she goes to holiday parties and weddings and dinners with her girlfriends like everyone else. But this customer also likes comfort; she likes her clothes to both look good and feel good. That sweater dress was created out of that idea.”
Finally, what might the audience see when his signature line debuts on Saturday? “It will be playful and colorful and inspired by pop artists,” Siriano said. “I wanted it to be fun. I think we’re missing that a little bit in fashion right now — there is life to these clothes. I want women to smile when they see [the signature collection] walk down the runway.”
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