Janet Jackson front row at the Siriano glam fashion week show

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NEW YORK — With Janet Jackson resplendent in a front-row black pantsuit and huge hats on many of her models, Christian Siriano opened New York Fashion Week at Elizabeth Taylor’s former townhouse, rolling out sexy, form-fitting looks on Wednesday to go with her trademark prom dresses.

He was inspired by Taylor, of course, for a show inspired by Old Hollywood, but told The Associated Press that a slew of stylish icons were also muses: Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Bianca Jagger and Judy Garland among them.

“I was watching the girls rehearsing and I was like, oh my God, imagine Elizabeth Taylor in her heels walking down those marble steps. How fabulous. It’s so cool to be here,” Siriano said.

Taylor lived in the six-story French Renaissance Revival townhouse, now nestled among Midtown office buildings for several years in the 1950s, during the Michael Todd era. It is now an art space.

Siriano’s collection fits perfectly into the long spiral staircases used by its models. It was a bit of everything as he tweaked his business model for a more seasonal approach. That’s what his luxury customers want, he says.

Ultra wide brim hats stole the show in black, royal blue and bright red. There was a lot of sparkle and an asymmetrical set of huge ruffled bell sleeves on a high neck white evening dress. One sleeve started at the shoulder and the other at the elbow.

Among her trademark show stoppers was a baby blue dress for the skirt paired with a shiny black spaghetti strap top with a cinched waist and matching long black gloves. A riot of ruffles adorned one long-sleeved gold dress and he donned narrow gold and black stripes on another.

“This show is really about getting back to glamour,” Siriano said. “I really wanted this. My clients are really looking for this, especially now. They’ve been trapped for so long. It’s like, what can I wear that’s the most extravagant and fabulous thing ?”

Siriano was one of a handful of designers who didn’t give up on catwalks during the pandemic’s darkest months.

He dressed them all, cementing a strong A-list fan base from Jackson herself (she shouted it out on Instagram) to Cardi B, Lizzo, Jennifer Lopez, Ariana Grande, Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama.

“I’ve wanted to dress Janet my whole life,” Siriano said. “She was everything I wanted growing up. She was.

When he told his mother, who usually attends his shows, that Jackson was going to be his guest, she replied, “Wow, right. I don’t even have to come.

So what should a designer do when they’ve gone through their to-do list?

“Janet and Madonna were big on my to-do list and I have to do things for them,” Siriano said. “Now I’m really excited about all the new Hollywood starlets. I’ve just dressed Sydney Sweeney a few times and I think she’s the most amazing actress ever.

He’s fitting for Monday’s Emmys, but he wasn’t sure who he would dress. He provided a treat: nominee Laura Linney for sure.

“It’s a good list,” Siriano said, “but I can’t say until I see them on the mat.”

Follow Leanne Italy on Twitter at http://twitter.com/italy

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