What are Laura Linney, Katie Holmes, and Debra Messing doing at a suburban Connecticut store opening on a weeknight in the thick of summer? They’re here, slipping out of black cars across the street from a holistic pet food chain, for Christian Siriano.
On Tuesday night, amid a budding retail resurgence, Siriano, the designer known for red carpet inclusivity and emphatic sound bites, opened The Collective West, a “mini department store” in Westport, Connecticut, the coastal suburb where he bought a house just before the start of the pandemic in 2020 and where he now splits his time with his New York apartment.
The Collective West is a glimpse into Siriano’s multi-faceted brand, from clothing exclusive to the store (I am greeted by a sleek black suit with sequin mesh sleeves and matching pants), accessories, modern interiors, and the art he began painting during the pandemic. True to its name, the shop will showcase other local designers, including Swoon Westport, a vintage home furnishings boutique; Josh Levkoff jewelry; and Future Lovers of Tomorrow, the menswear line from Siriano’s boyfriend Kyle Smith.
Siriano is striving to enliven the suburban shopping experience beyond the luxe retail hub of nearby Greenwich. He was among the city-dwellers who decamped to Westport during the pandemic, quarantining in an airy, modernist home by the beach. Two years later, that migration has amounted to a population of city “expats” seeking sparkle among the strip malls of yore. Suburban has long been synonymous with staid, but “there is such a metropolitan, cool girl—cool woman—that lives here and there aren’t that many places for her to go,” Siriano said, ”so we’re bringing it.” He praises Westport’s cosmopolitan (by suburban standards) vibe; it boasts the Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA), a regional theater (the Westport Playhouse) and “a cool, cultured group of creators and talent.”