When you first saw Christian Siriano on the fourth season of "Project Runway," you probably didn't care much for him. The skinny guy from Baltimore had a crazy Flock of Seagulls hairdo and an arrogant attitude that grated on everyone.
However, by the end of the season, his talent and his personality became the show's best ever -- he was the first (and so far only) person to win both the competition and fan favorite. Nearly two years since the premiere of that season, Siriano has staged three critically acclaimed shows during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York and has launched partnerships with major brands.
This weekend, he'll be in the Twin Cities to sign copies of his new book, "Fierce Style: How to Be Your Most Fabulous Self." We caught up with Siriano in a New York cab going from the CBS' "Early Show" to his downtown studio.
Q Aveda did the hair for your fashion show.
A They've done the past couple of seasons. I love them. They're the best!
Q So why a book?
A I guess when the opportunity came up right after the show, I thought it was really interesting. I knew that my book could be really visual. A follow-up to get everyone their fashion fix. I wanted it to be serious and fun.
Q Define "ferosh."
A Being fierce is a state of being, not something you can become. It's a high point of being a certain persona. Ferosh is a downgraded version of being fierce.
Q Do you have any new catchphrases since the show?
A Not really. I just stick to everything I already
say all day long.
Q Have you been watching Season Six?
A I have watched a few episodes, but I'm not up to date. It's hard to sit at home and have a night to yourself.
Q They still say "fierce" and "hot mess" all of the time.
A I guess so! All of my phrases are going. When Tim and I write each other e-mails, it's all in there.
Q What's good about this season?
A I think the talent level is a little bit higher than last season. It's tough because I haven't seen every episode. I'm waiting for something amazing to be done.
Q Who's the fiercest person you know?
A There's a long list. There definitely is this idea that I love Heidi and Victoria. There are so many divas I've met lately. My girls right now are Debra Messing and Natalie Portman.
Q What's the one thing women must buy for fall 2009?
A A great amazing coat or jacket -- you wear it every day anyway. It's your look. If it's special and ornate and unique, that's amazing.
Q What's the one thing we shouldn't wear this season?
A With the economy, people are about pairing low-budget and high-end. For me, underdressing is the trend that's not working. I don't think [the poor economy] means you shouldn't look your best.
Q In your book, you make the point that you should try not to wear the identical look twice.
A Mix what you have, as best as you can. That's what makes you individual and makes your style. You learn from yourself.
Q Any budget-friendly tips?
A Splurging once every so often is important. Accessories are the easiest way to be fashionable, on trend. Try H&M, Forever 21 and Payless. They give you fashion and they give you style.
Q You've done an incredible amount since "Project Runway." What's your goal?
A To build my brand and make sure the clothing and the clothing side of my company grows and develops. I've been doing accessories and things for other companies. But I want to have shoes and bags and jewelry and makeup all under the same brand. And in five years, I might be bored and join a circus.
Q You're going to have a new show on Bravo -- what took so long?
A I think having a TV show without anything to do on a TV show is boring. I needed it to have a strong background.
Q What about your hair? What was the inspiration -- an '80s reference?
A I'm not a big referencer. I was more into theater than music. It's what happened in the moment.
Sara Glassman • 612-673-7177