Christopher John Rogers Resort 2024
Resort 2024

It was June last year when Christopher John Rogers made a big splash with his once-a-year fashion show. This time, he bumped it up to the last Saturday in April, capitalizing on the hoopla that surrounds the Met Gala. The Brooklyn Navy Yard venue was the first stop in a long night of fashion events that included his own after-party at the Standard Hotel and a Gucci shindig with an Idris Elba DJ set. Quinta Brunson, Teyana Taylor, and Ashley Graham were all in the audience wearing his clothes, and designer friends like Hillary Taymour and Willie Norris turned up to support.

Rogers has emerged from the pandemic at the top of New York’s young generation of designers. In his rainbow stripes and grids of colorful polka dots, he’s found strong, identifiable signatures, which is an important element of brand building that not all emerging talents understand or are capable of. The uptown, put-together polish of his clothes is another distinguishing factor. Many of his peers practice a scrappier, dirtier, more underground kind of fashion. He puts Viola Davis, Tessa Thompson, and Jodie Turner-Smith in red carpet gowns.

So why on a call in the lead-up to the show did Rogers express a bit of disillusionment with the job of fashion designer? Not enough time in the design studio, he said. “I love being with a model and draping, or doing research, or really thinking about fit, about fabric, about texture, but I feel like only 10 to 15% of what I do is making clothes,” he explained. “In some ways this collection was informed by wanting to go back to that essential feeling.”

The sleeveless top and ball skirt of the first look suggested a new direction. To start, they were all-white, and then there was the off-kilter, undone aspect of their construction, but they were red herrings. Rogers quickly found his way back to the bright color and unbridled exuberance that are his hallmarks. The graphic stripes he’s known for were joined by similarly bold florals in the vein of Warhol’s daisies; a pair of evening dresses in black-and-white polka dots of varying sizes and overlays, both of which are definitely red carpet-bound; and going-out tops constructed like oversize birthday present bows.

Rogers does a good business with knits, many of which were seen in the audience last night. This season, he played with chunky yarns and thick, cozy layers, or fine gauges, though in both cases, he styled them to expose a flash of décoletté or midriff. On the opposite end of the texture spectrum were an elegant fitted button-down and matching long skirt and a pantsuit in a shiny material he likened to Glad garbage bags. “It’s this really amazing fabric that’s actually coated taffeta,” he said. To finish, there was a group of black looks, including a panniered ball skirt and a draped top with the romance of the opening outfit.

Success begets success, and as Rogers’s business grows he’ll face ever more pressures and responsibilities that keep him from the design studio. The industry can be uniquely hard on promising newcomers, putting them in a box at the same time we demand they grow and evolve. But if that draped top and ball skirt can tell us anything, it’s that Rogers is as committed to the dream of creation as ever.

This article was originally published on Vogue Runway.

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