• News/ 

    Christian Makes for Fierce Runway Finale

    "It's crazy, but, hello, did you have a doubt?"

    So opined the self-proclaimed obvious winner of the fourth season of Project Runway, 21-year-old Christian Siriano, whose final collection of neutral-toned, extravagantly detailed and slightly androgynous couture proved to be just the effort the outspoken designer needed to sew up that six-page spread in Elle magazine.

    "I'm, like, really excited but let me tell you, I am taking, like, a vay-cay. I need a breaky-break," the Annapolis, Maryland, native who currently makes his home in a converted closet in New York, said in one of his post-good news interviews.

    "This won't be the last of Christian Siriano. I mean, people need to see more of the fierceness."

    While Siriano's trademark word was consistently in evidence with each of the 12 models he sent strutting down the runway at Bryant Park, site of New York Fashion Week, it wasn't all bitchiness and spunk for the asymmetrically coiffed style maven as he waited to hear the results.

    As Heidi Klum, Elle fashion director Nina Garcia, designer Michael Kors and guest judge Victoria Beckham mulled over his collection of supradesigned pieces—which among the skinny trousers, big belts, ruffles and high collars included a brilliant two-tone feathered gown that left one craving a sundae doused in hot fudge and butterscotch—the tears were already welling behind his black-framed specs.

    When it was announced that he had topped Jillian Lewis, 26, and Rami Kashou, 31, the fierceness gave way to a loss for words. "Oh my god," the diminutive designer sobbed after becoming the youngest Project Runway winner ever.

    "I'm such a fan. You are so talented, and I would be honored to wear any piece of your clothing," Beckham said.

    The season four finale of Bravo's hit competition series was watched by nearly 5.2 million people, including 3.8 million adults ages 18 to 49, making for the cable network's largest audience ever in that demographic. 

    With three days to go before Bryant Park, Siriano treated fans—who had already treated him to this season's $10,000 Fan Favorite prize—to a rare glimpse of the softer fabric beneath the sometimes abrasive exterior when he acknowledged he was up against some similarly fierce competition.

    "Jillian's collection was so innovative and cool, and Rami, like, who knows?!" the erstwhile Alexander McQueen employee said while admitting for what seemed like the first time that he was nervous. "He's an amazing designer and he's so successful, how can I compete with that?

    "It messes with my head!"

    He was ready to get his show on the road by morning, of course, figuring if he could walk around in tortuous ankle boots for a week, then his model certainly could, as well.

    Doing well to mess with his head, though, were Lewis, who presented a signature blend of flirty skirts, immaculately tailored coats and well-fitted, female-friendly shapes, as well as some uncharacteristic knit pieces that had the judges applauding; and Kashou, whose previous experience dressing celebs like Jessica Alba and Penélope Cruz on the red carpet showed through in his collection of cocktail and evening wear and ultrafeminine separates.

    "My experience on Project Runway will be a very helpful way for me to keep moving ahead," the already established L.A.-by-way-of-Jerusalem designer, who was featured as one of "Six with Style" in last weekend's Los Angeles Times Magazine, said on Wednesday's finale. "This is not the last time you will hear of a Rami Kashou piece. You will see a lot more from me, and you will be wearing my clothes."

    The New York-bred Lewis, whose biggest demon seemed to be her tendency to think too much, which resulted in her being pressed for time on a near-weekly basis, took her loss hard but, as she was wont to do throughout the season, quietly stuck to her guns.

    "I was really surprised at how it played out," she said. "I was so disappointed and so let down, but you know what? I would not go back and do it differently. I love what I did."

    So did the judges, who called Lewis' designs "youthful, beautiful and feminine." And all were impressed with Kashou's consistency and extreme sophistication when it came to making clothes for "real" women.

    But it was Siriano's showmanship and flair for the dramatic that won the day, as well as that six-page Elle spread, the opportunity to sell his line on, a 2008 Saturn Astra and $100,000 to start his own line.

    "Victoria, it was amazing to meet you," he informed Posh Spice, winking. "We'll be in touch."



    Did he turn down Sexiest Man Alive title?