Is "Project Runway" season 4 winner Christian Siriano the busiest man in fashion? Between his ready-to-wear Christian V Siriano collection hitting the tents this Saturday, his shoe and handbag lines for Payless, his makeup collection for Victoria's Secret, a gig designing couture costumes for the new film "Eloise in Paris," and -- phew -- his book, "Fierce Style: How to Be Your Most Fabulous Self" (launching October 5th), all signs point to yes.
Thankfully, the charming, infinitely quotable designer took a time-out to chat with StyleList about his spring inspirations, new book and why this season's "Project Runway" contestants "need to step it up."
Christian Siriano: I think it will be a fun day. I'm interested to see how it goes. I'll just be hanging out, signing autographs and taking lots of pictures. I think [Fashion's Night Out] will have something for everyone. There are the high fashion people that the fashionistas want to see, and the marketable people like me. I would be scared to go and talk to Anna [Wintour].
SL: You'll be showing your Spring 2010 line at Bryant Park on Saturday afternoon. Any last-minute nerves?
CS: It's a little stressful, but things are coming together. The clothes are done, we've got shoes, we've got bags, we've got jewelry. Now I'm just worrying that something won't show up or that a model will cancel on me. I always stress that it won't work out, but it always does.
SL: Your Fall '09 line took inspiration from Cleopatra and featured a lot of chocolate browns. What can we expect for spring?
CS: There are lots of blush tones, and I'm using two different prints. It's inspired by the Amalfi Coast of Italy. It's very light and ethereal and all about travel and luxury.
SL: How will you celebrating once the show is over? Do you plan to see any shows?
CS: We're having an after-party for close friends and family and everyone who worked on the show. I might go to a friend's presentation, and maybe G-STAR. But the shows I go to are more menswear. I feel weird going to see more established designers that I sit next to at Saks.
SL: Speaking of Saks Fifth Avenue, which snatched up your Fall '09 collection, we heard you were at a party there last night celebrating their new third floor.
CS: Working with these brands helps me in two ways. 1) I can build the brand and get so much more awareness. It takes years for other young designers to build that. 2) It basically funds my entire company. Sales are down, clothing wise. You need a beauty collection, you need a shoe collection. If I didn't have those partnerships I probably would have folded after my first season.
SL: Do you have any other exciting projects that you can tell us about?
SL: There's also your new book, "Fierce Style: How to Be Your Most Fabulous Self." How will this stand out from other fashion guides, including the ones written by "Project Runway" figures like Tim Gunn and Nina Garcia?
CS: Mine has a lot of backstories about my life. I don't really say "you can't wear this," but I do talk about what I like. As far as Nina and Tim, their books are more serious about fashion. Mine is lighthearted and very fashion-kitschy. It's really beautiful and full of colorful images. For me it was all about having something really visual.
SL: Let's be honest. In terms of having your own line, you're pretty much the Kelly Clarkson of "Project Runway." Do you think that you have exceeded expectations given that you come from a reality background?
CS: I hope so. I really went into the show naive and didn't know the industry. Once the show finished and I won and got the support of Victoria [Beckham], Heidi [Klum] and Nina [Garcia], I realized I didn't want to do anything else but start a collection. I just went with it and it's been rolling ever since. I know it's reality TV and I say funny things and can be sassy but having a collection was always my goal. For other winners, that's not always the goal. Being on TV can change a person.
SL: Have you been watching the new season of "Project Runway"? What do you think?
CS: It's good. I don't think it's amazing, let me die over it. There aren't really any standouts. Everyone is hot and cold this season, really up and down. My season was really consistent; me, Rami, Jillian and even Victoria were always at the top. They really need to step it up.
SL: If you had to pick a favorite, who would it be?
CS: Shirin. I did her audition; I was on the panel. I'm not blown away by her, but I think she's very talented and marketable and wearable.
SL: What advice would you give a girl who is too cash-strapped to spend a lot of money on fashion?
CS: People have moved on from label obsession. There are so many affordable stores that have great designs, like a Payless or a Forever 21. As long as you have a staple piece from your favorite designer. It's all about the mix: a blazer that costs $500 with a shoe that costs $20 or $50. Anna doesn't care anymore. Well, maybe she does.
SL: What's one piece that women should have in their fall wardrobes?
CS: A really great coat, jacket or blazer as a layering piece. You wear it over everything. All of my coats from fall were my number-one selling item.
SL: Can you tell us more about your shoes and handbags for Payless?
CS: There's a big mix: flats, slingback pumps, boots ... For bags we did a clutch and an oversized bag. It's not overdramatic, but it's not plain and simple either. It's very accessible, very affordable, the quality is great, and the details are amazing.
SL: You've dressed a million celebrities, but if you could pick one to wear your designs, who would it be?
Click here to see what other "Project Runway" alums are up to.