It’s good to finally see some delightful, statement dresses this season – thanks to Christopher John Rogers and his spring-summer 2021, which is as joyous and vibrant as Róisín Murphy new album, Róisín Machine (personal association I had in my mind the moment I saw the looks). The pause provided by 2020’s COVID-19 stay-in-place orders led many designers to rethink how they’ve been doing business, but for Christopher John Rogers, all the hours spent indoors allowed him a moment to appreciate what’s been working. Since launching his brand in 2016, Rogers and his team have been working nonstop, moving quickly from inspiration to execution. The breakneck pace did little to impede their success – he’s fresh off a 2019 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund win – but Rogers appreciated the chance to reflect. “In the past, there wasn’t time to think about why we’re doing the things we’re doing,” he told Vogue. “Part of the reason why the collections have been so well-received is that they’ve been quite visceral in terms of the way they were conceived. [Our team] has been like, ‘This feels exciting, we enjoy this’ instead of investigating why. This time it has been nice to parse through the reasons I’m attracted to certain things and how that can serve where we want to take the brand.” After the bombast of his autumn-winter collection, Rogers stripped things down, designing not just for the A-list celebrities who’ve been drawn into his sphere, but the everyday people looking for a luxury mood booster. Colour and embellishment were used to elevate closet staples into something that feels fantastical. A button-down shirt was upgraded with rainbow crystals, while white suiting received vibrant topstitching on cuffs and lapels. Away from the studio and unable to do some of the draping he’s become known for, Rogers took things old school and pulled out the Crayolas. “I was away for four months and couldn’t do anything physical with my hands, so I just bought crayons and color pencils and started scribbling like I was a kid,” says Rogers, who has a background in fine arts. “I wasn’t trying to create anything specific; I just wanted to have fun and express myself. It’s about getting back to the way children see the world through very simple shapes. They put energy on the page when they draw, so this was about simplifying and translating that energy into the clothes.” Tapping into the vitality of naive art doesn’t mean making clothes that feel juvenile. Rogers struck a balance between the more whimsical elements of the collection and the glitz that has put him on the speed dial of Hollywood’s top stylists. Having mastered voluminous ball gowns, he gave slinkier fare a try with a sequin catsuit for body-conscious clients. The silks and satins were replaced with easier to wear cotton and taffeta fabrics, but the aesthetic shifts were slight. “It’s nice to know that all these different types of people with differing interests, body types, and personalities can find themselves within this aesthetic,” explains Rogers. “Ultimately, that’s the point.” This might be the official end of fashion month, but some brands which have skipped the schedule will pop up sooner or later – staying in tune!
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.