Christian Siriano Wins On 'Project Runway'

Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 6, 2008; Page C08

Annapolis native Christian Siriano, 22, was crowned the youngest champion ever of Bravo TV's "Project Runway" during last night's taped finale of the hit fashion reality show -- a verdict that the designer, in his own signature verbiage, would surely call "fierce."

Siriano, who strutted with confidence verging on cockiness throughout the season's 12 design challenges, was visibly nervous as he prepared for New York Fashion Week, at which the show's three finalists -- Jillian Lewis and Rami Kashou were the others -- showed their collections. The youngest designer, however, won with dramatic creations heavy on ruffles, feathers, headwear and all things musketeer.

He was awarded $100,000 to start his own line, as well as a new car and a magazine spread. The judges -- model and host Heidi Klum, fashion designer Michael Kors, Elle editor Nina Garcia and guest Victoria Beckham -- cited Siriano's showmanship, creativity and flair. Said Beckham of his collection: "It was a breath of fresh air."

Siriano proved popular with not only the judges but also with viewers. He had been voted "fan favorite" earlier in the season, the show's fourth, and last night phone-in voters cited him as their pick to win, with 43 percent of the vote. After receiving $10,000 for the fan-favorite award, Siriano -- who said he moved to New York with relatively little money -- told The Washington Post: "I'm going to buy a bed. That's no joke because I really need it. I still don't have one."

As a teenager, Siriano worked at the Bubbles hair salon in the Annapolis Mall before going to London to study and learn from designers Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood.

He came to the show with arguably the least amount of experience: Lewis, 26, and Kashou, 31, are relative veterans of the industry.

In the last moments before the winner was announced, Siriano quivered with nerves.

But as soon as he was chosen, his swagger returned.

"People need to see more of the fierceness," he said. He then pivoted to pop icon Beckham, who was one of his obvious champions among the jury, and said with his signature self-assurance: "We'll be in touch."

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