For his second bridal collection ever, Christian Siriano is looking out for the women who are so often invisible in the bridal industry: plus-size brides.
All of the dresses in this collection, of which there are 12, go up to a size 26. In the campaign images for this collection, the gowns are shown on a model who is a more industry-standard model size, perhaps a size 2, and one plus-size model — whose dress, according to Siriano's team, is a size 16.
For Siriano, one of the fashion industry's loudest voices when it comes to speaking out on the importance of diversity in fashion, it was an obvious move to make.
"I think it was just pretty easy, a no-brainer for us," Siriano said in a recent interview. "It just made sense. I think it's important that all the dresses, everything we're offering, can come in any size. That's an important thing."
It's also a rare thing in the bridal world.
It was just December 2015 when David's Bridal finally used a plus-size model to advertise some of its own dresses. Flip through any bridal magazine and you'll notice that women above a size 10 or 12 are few and far between. Siriano thinks this erasure of plus-size women traces back to the idea that weight loss is a required step as a bride-to-be.
"For every bride, it's almost like this notion that they need to lose weight," Siriano said. "It's a misconception, that looking your best means that you're thin. That's why so many brands think that a bride doesn't want to see a plus-size woman advertising dresses for them, which is false."
Indeed, it's been proven time and time again that consumers respond well to images of models they can relate to, with retailers like Aerie seeing sales skyrocket after vowing to not use any photo airbrushing on their diverse models. So Siriano remains a bit stumped as to why plus-size women aren't directly advertised to in the bridal industry, especially given the fact that most American women are now larger than a size 12.
According to Siriano, it's not like designing a wedding gown in a size 20 is any more difficult than designing one in a size 2.
"I like to tell people that the process is different," Siriano said. "There's different challenges, but it's not necessarily more difficult. The dresses in our collection, everything's the same. We just work on where the darts go, what the fabric is. I think about that a lot more in the beginning of the process, thinking of what kind of fabrics could work on anyone."
So, much like his runway clothes, Siriano's focus on designing for several different types of women is a fundamental pillar of his bridal designs, which were inspired by flowers this time around, with floral accents and patterns and soft silhouettes throughout.
"We can't have every size in every style in the world, but it's the awareness, seeing women who are a little more similar, that I think is helping," Siriano said. "I think it's just relevant in the world to include women who aren't a size 2, and it takes designers and editors both to get those images out there. It takes a full group of people who understand the problems to really make change."
With Siriano paving the way for other designers to pay attention to plus-size customers, he remains hopeful that there will be a time when offering dresses up to a size 26, or casting models of various different sizes in runway shows, won't be noteworthy at all.
"I think if we start to make it the norm, that these women exist, then things will change," Siriano said. "Once people start to see it, it really helps others realize who these women are, and that they want nothing different than a woman who is a size 0."