Designer Christian Siriano building out the biz

LEANNE ITALIE
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In this Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013, photo, provided by Christian Siriano, fashion from the Christian Siriano Spring 2014 collection is modeled during Fashion Week in New York. (AP Photo/Christian Siriano)

NEW YORK (AP) — At 27 and fresh from an island vacation, Christian Siriano the designer is working on Christian Siriano the mogul.

Having dabbled in cosmetics in the past for Victoria's Secret, the former makeup artist and hair stylist has a new year-long beauty partnership with Sebastian Professional, an as-yet unnamed fragrance and his bespectacled eyes on designing, yes, eyewear.

And he hopes to expand his brick-and-mortar presence over the next few years. Now, he has just one namesake shop that opened last year in downtown Manhattan, selling everything from accessories to fancy home goods.

"The last year or two has been really about growing the business," Siriano said in an interview backstage Saturday before his spring preview in a favorite downtown venue. "I really wanted to make sure we were selling clothes first and really building with retailers. My store opening was a big jump for us, especially being a small designer."

So how big is too big for the season four "Project Runway" winner? Does he fret losing himself in a lifestyle brand?

"I thought it would be hard," Siriano said. "But at the end of the day, I'm growing up. I'm definitely learning every season about what I can do, what I can't do. What I like and what I don't like."

For spring, what he wanted was to take his ladies to the "Island of Women," Isla Mujeres on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. Bright yellow, coral and greens breezed down the runway in crepe for capes, or were woven into raffia.

"I took my first vacation this year," Siriano smiled. "I just loved it. It was bright. It was fun. All the streets were, like, colorblocked and painted and all the local women were making these handcrafted textiles."

Other, more subtle looks had him twisting the raffia palms into delicate floral French knots on eveningwear in subtle blushes and whites, including cropped tops paired with cropped white trousers.

A series of flouncy jackets and skirts came in black-and-white zigzags.

While building out his business, Siriano said, he's firmly focused on his loyal ladies. They're the ones who buy him at Neiman Marcus stores throughout the country and boutiques around the world.

"Keeping the customer is the hardest thing," Siriano said. "You can get one woman to buy something one season, but keeping them season after season is the biggest goal. I need to sell the clothes at the end of the day."

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