“Project Runway” star and fashion designer Christian Siriano is working with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to mobilize his company’s resources to produce face masks amid a critical supply shortage as the nation battles coronavirus.
Siriano, an in-demand designer who has dressed famous clients from Michelle Obama to Taylor Swift and Leslie Jones, reached out to Cuomo on Twitter Friday after a call for help from the governor asking for businesses to help supply gloves, gowns and masks.
“If we need masks my team can make them!” Siriano posted on Instagram. “I have sewers and pattern makers ready to help working from home we just need all the information on how to help.”
Cuomo tweeted a short time later: “Appreciate his help so much.” The governor added: “Who’s next? Let’s do this together, NY!”
Later in the day Siriano already posted photos of mask prototypes on Instagram and Twitter. “We hope to get these to the right people ASAP,” he messaged.
Siriano told Harper’s Bazaar Friday that he’s in a unique position to create items quickly. “I manufacture everything in New York already, I have a working atelier and everyone’s working from home,” he said.
The team is working with Cuomo’s office to produce masks for medical service workers, including receptionists, social workers, medical coders and billers, Siriano told Harper’s. “We’re just working on logistics now: who will get them first, how many we can physically make. Hopefully, we can make a thousand in a few days. That’s the goal.”
Siriano will donate the masks being made now, and “then a plan will be put together as we flesh it out to manufacture more,” his publicist Biana Bianconi told Buzzfeed.
Siriano encouraged other designers to also use their teams to help. “If everybody can work from home, I think we all could really churn out a lot,” he said. “They will not be pretty. They are not fashionable in any way. It’s really just a basic white mask that hopefully will help.”
Masks are in particular short supply as coronavirus cases spread. The American Medical Association on Friday called on the Trump administration to address the “critical shortage” of testing kits and Personal Protection Equipment, including masks, for health-care professionals.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has detailed information on its website on “Strategies for Optimizing the Supply of Face Masks” amid the shortage — including re-using commercial masks and making them at home.
People on Twitter were moved by Siriano’s gesture, including model Heidi Klum. She was host of the design competition reality show “Project Runway” when Siriano was a contestant in the fourth season in 2008 (and won). He started his brand that same year.
Grateful workers responding on Twitter had suggestions about the mask design, and some asked for the patterns that Siriano comes up with.
Tweets hailed Siriano’s offer and condemned the Trump administration for failing to help provide the supplies. Several other volunteers and companies were inspired to also offer to help.