A ball gown - if deserted on an island with only one outfit choice, Christian Siriano would wear a ball gown.
"It's breezy under there, it's easy. And if you're on an island you don't have to wear shoes," Siriano said, earning laughs from the audience of 350 people. "But not strapless, because I don't have shoulders for that."
The 27-year-old designer, known for his asymmetrical haircut and his thick, angular glasses, gave an Art Talk lecture Tuesday sponsored by the Visual Arts Committee of the Central Programming Council.
As the VAC's keynote speaker this semester, Siriano is the first fashion designer to give an Art Talk lecture.
In his lecture, Siriano narrated his career as a fashion designer, revisited a few of his older pieces worn by A-list celebrities and took questions from the audience, including the island outfit question.
Two microphones were placed between the two aisles of the auditorium, and Siriano answered questions along the lines of possibly designing menswear (not happening), what trends irk him the most (being underdressed) and his favorite Halloween party to attend (Heidi Klum's annual soiree).
"I loved when he was answering the questions that were presented to him because he didn't even have to think about it, he just always knew the best answer," said Nicky Hackenbrack, a junior in biochemistry and molecular biology who waited in line for two hours to see Siriano.
"He is so personable and fierce and he had such great inspirational things to say," Hackenbrack added. "It felt like he didn't even try to do it, it was just natural."
Through his idiosyncrasies, like the pacing back and forth on the UC Auditorium stage and his unique catchphrases "let's talk about it" and "fabulous," the Maryland native shared his journey from attending a magnet high school focusing on visual art to quitting a job at Marc Jacobs because he didn't know any better.
Siriano shared an anecdote in which he graduated from the American InterContinental University in London and moved to New York City with hardly any money and only a small walk-up apartment to call home. Siriano later found out the walk-up, located in the Lower East Side neighborhood of Manhattan, was eerily located in the same area Madonna had lived when she first moved to the Big Apple.
"I still swear that I lived in her apartment," Siriano said.
Press secretary for VAC Morgan Hardy said she thought Siriano was a guest that supported the committee's purpose to promote appreciation of visual arts by exposing students to a variety of artistic ventures.
"He talked about working with material like you would talk about working with paint and creating texture," Hardy said after the event. "And he did open up some minds about that kind of thing, and he did expose us to the more artistic aspect of fashion."
Having seen many seasons of "Project Runway," which Siriano won in 2008, Hackenbrack said his lecture allowed her to take a glimpse into his growth from an amateur on a reality show competition to a professional in the industry.
"I guess my expectations were to understand where he's coming from and how the process of making an outfit, even a collection of a dozen outfits, works," Hackenbrack said, "and I now know about that."
"I now know about his childhood and his past history, and it now all seems like I'm not just a crazy fan," she added, "but I'm someone who understands where he's coming from."