Joy! Christopher John Rogers SS21

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.

The Look – Christopher John Rogers AW20

In support for the Black community, I continue celebrating and highlighting the talented individuals that shape fashion today. I wrote about Christopher John Rogers not a while ago right here, and I must admit: I’m obsessed with his work! Here’s this gorgeous finale gown from the Brooklyn-based designer’s autumn-winter 2020 collection to brighten up your Tuesday.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Focus On: Christopher John Rogers

In support for the Black community, I continue celebrating and highlighting the talented individuals that shape fashion today. Take notes! Christopher John Rogers is definitely one of New York’s brightest stars among young and independent designers. Baton Rouge–born, Brooklyn-based designer is known for resurrecting glamour, and his whimsical take on eveningwear (think cascading tulle, slimming taffeta suits, pleated skirts) that got Rihanna, Michelle Obama, Lizzo, Cardi B, SZA and Tracee Ellis Ross obsessed and take it to the red carpet. Moreover, Chistopher became one of the 2019 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalists – this only motivated him to buckle down further. His autumn-winter 2020 is the perfect balance between dramatic gowns and statement pieces that you will love in your day-to-day wardrobe. Spanning a full 40 looks, Rogers’s show had his signature silhouettes – there was the bulbous strawberry-shaped waist, which reappeared on the runway in violet, and he worked in some past references, like Pierrots, the French cinematic clowns that informed last season’s ruffled necklines. As for new inspirations, he cited trash bags, of all things – he told Vogue that a curtain brushing the floor in a Renaissance painting has the same energy as a crumpled garbage bag – and mid-century couturier Madame Grès, whose later work skewed more graphic and progressive than the goddess-draped gowns that made her famous. But what really makes the collection stand out is the masterful combination of bold colours and gorgeous fabrics. Whereas before Rogers had to be resourceful with his textiles, often working with deadstock materials, now he’s able to make patterns and sumptuous fabrics factory-made for his brand. “All of the things that my team and I have been dreaming up, we were able to execute on a level that you haven’t seen from us before,” Rogers summed up. The label is now producing on a larger scale thanks to a purchase from Net-a-Porter. In thinking about the potential commercial nature of his work, Rogers cited the popularity of that strawberry silhouette. “For something that morphs the shape so much, which maybe historically hasn’t been seen as flattering, women from a size 0 to a 14 have ordered the dress,” he said. “It goes to show that it’s not about dressing for the world—it’s about dressing for yourself. We’re not out here making 2,000 units of anything. We’re trying to make a few things for the few people who love it, and really make things that will last.” I can’t wait to see what this designer has in store for the upcoming seasons, looking forward to more of his fantastic splendor!

Collage by Edward Kanarecki featuring artworks by the late Christo; selected looks from Christopher John Rogers‘ SS20 and AW20 collections.