09/08/2012 07:36 EDT | Updated 11/08/2012 05:12 EST

'Project Runway' alum Siriano finds inspiration in the dreamy, tulle-filled world of ballet

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Some of his fashionista fans and even his former "Project Runway" followers may not know this, but Christian Siriano danced ballet when he was younger, as did his sister.

And so, when the designer was seeking inspiration for his latest collection, he found it in ballet, specifically in American Ballet Theatre's production of "The Dream," which evokes a sumptuous fairy-tale world filled with pastel-colored tulle. "I was feeling very romantic," he said in a backstage interview.

Siriano, who won the fourth season of "Project Runway" and has done more with that launching pad than any other winner, thrilled his audience Saturday at his Spring 2013 preview with a series of graceful, delicate and sometimes dramatic designs, in colours like ballet pink, sea foam, mint, ivory, champagne and watercolour (that last colour looked exactly like it had been mixed at Monet's easel.)

He saved the most dramatic gesture for the end: There was an audible gasp when not one but three models came out to show the final look, striding three across with one slightly in front, as if in a ballet sequence.

They wore flowing tulle applique dresses, one in watercolour, one in pink, and one in sea foam. "Those three looks came straight from 'The Dream,'" he said backstage, explaining that a friend had brought him to examine the ABT costumes firsthand.

Another highlight was a strapless tiered tulle gown that a woman could wear to the fanciest ball — in a fairy tale, or in real life. But there were also daytime looks, like a pleated jacket and cropped pant, all in pink polka dot, or a scoop neck sleeveless blouse and another cropped pant paired with a chic swing coat — in ballet pink, of course.

"I was thinking those might be some of the clothes a ballerina would wear in the daytime," Siriano mused.

Also on display were five new shoe designs, including Siriano's first flat: a "futuristic sneaker" also inspired by ballet. Featured in both metallic and satin, he suggests that women wear it not only with shorts and capris, but with — what the heck — cocktail dresses, too.