Lunching with Christian Siriano

Christian Siriano, up-and- coming fashion designer and au currant celebrity, was in Columbia Tuesday presenting his 2009 spring collection and raising money for the USC Dance program.

The "Project Runway" Season Four winner shook hands and chatted with some of the 40 guests at a private $100-a-plate luncheon at Gervais & Vine.

Wearing his characteristic dark-framed glasses and a silver Burberry shirt — one gifted to him by the design house after he did an event for them — Siriano sat at the head table.

The guests who paid $100 a plate to attend the event included ladies who lunch, fans who fawn and patrons and significant donors of the dance program.

"When I saw Christian was going to be here I couldn’t resist because I am a huge fan," said Jennifer Simmon.

Simmon watches the Bravo channel reality TV show in which Siriano took top honors in its fourth season. Siriano is her favorite contestant: he even inspired her to compete in the local Runaway Runway recycled fashion show earlier in the year.

Simmons’ biggest surprise after meeting her idol was just how much personality Siriano packs into such a diminutive frame.

Not all the attendees knew who Siriano was. One guest leaned into another to ask if he was a judge on "Project Runway."

"In the name of Tim Gunn, man, where have you been?" we nearly uttered.

Siriano will show his 2009 spring collection at Coplon’s tonight.

"It will be like New York Fashion week all on one stage," said Siriano. "You’ll love it."

— Robin Cowie Nalepa