Christopher John Rogers’s unapologetically cheerful fashion has been responsible for more than a few smiles during 2020’s otherwise dismal news cycle. Lady Gaga accepted one of her five VMA Awards wearing his joyous Baja Blast silk taffeta ball skirt and kimono blouse; Zendaya made history at the Emmys in his dramatic moire and silk sculptural dress; and the Louisiana-born designer’s Instagram features still more fabulous high-profile fans wearing his wonderfully transportive clothes.
The pandemic has proved fruitful in other ways for Rogers’s team of four. “Fashion is all go, go, go,” he says of stepping off the hamster wheel. “In the past, the collections have felt so emotional, because we didn’t have time to think about why a sleeve shape was exciting. Now, we have time to ruminate on why things excite us and flesh them out even more.” This period of pandemic-imposed reflection has allowed Rogers’s studio to “dig [their] feet in”, reconnect with the foundations of the house, and let the light-heartedness that’s intrinsic to the brand play out. Here, five things to know about Christopher John Rogers’s spring/summer 2021 collection; the equivalent of a high-fashion hug.
1 / 5
Rogers’s back-to-basics mode is still high-octane
Rogers doubled down on house codes that had perhaps got lost in the riotous fashion which raised his profile thanks to Michelle Obama, Tracee Ellis Ross and Cardi B. “We’re known for large volumes and eveningwear, but our simple shapes happen to be incredibly special,” he affirms. “I think there will be a renewed interest in them as people are not going out as much. The same pieces require just as much attention to detail.” Rogers is particularly excited about the louche cream suiting with colourful and “emotive” stitching, and shirting that has been executed with the same rigour as his candy-coloured red-carpet wear.
2 / 5
Doodling is the new sketching
Rogers’s lockdown scribbling, which he began out of boredom but which turned into a cathartic exercise, turned out to be the genesis for the collection’s prints. Sunny colouring-book patterns and blown-up florals were realised by Morgan Hill, who the designer met while cutting his teeth at DvF, and who has consulted on his feel-good fabrications since Rogers went his own way. “Sketching with crayons reminded me of being little and playing around, not making something deep or anything, just feeling,” he says of the formative process of sitting down with a pencil and paper. Nostalgia might be sewn into the seams of the spring/summer 2021 collection, but from the outside it’s a riotous explosion of colour on interestingly formulated pieces that are bound to turn heads when walking past the playground.
3 / 5
Commit the name Corita Kent to memory
Rogers found his muse Corita Kent, whose childlike graphics made waves in the ’70s, via Pinterest, and became fascinated by her faith as much as her artwork. “For someone conservative and reserved to make something ebullient and progressive was inspiring,” he muses on Kent’s Catholicism, which influenced her modest dress. “The idea of confidence without having to show everything” resonates with the modest silhouettes Rogers is known for. But, he teases, longer hemlines have been “truncated”.
4 / 5
‘Sesame Street’ is the new Pantone
Rogers describes the spring/summer 2021 palette as a mash-up of Charles and Ray Eames, with a dash of Crayola and Sesame Street for good measure. This light-heartedness is intrinsic to the brand. “There’s already a gazillion black blazers in the world,” says Rogers. “I want to create clothes that make people smile.”
5 / 5
Consumer-focused doesn’t have to mean boring
Rogers designs based on how he is feeling, with pops of colour and shapes reflecting his mood, rather than their sales potential. But, after conducting his first trunk shows in America, he now has a grasp of the women buying his clothes. They are, he has learned, not all Lady Gaga. Chefs, lawyers and HR personnel all share Rogers’s sense of humour and understand the nuances of his collections. His community is growing, and although he says he will never collaborate with big talent over his close circle of creative friends, Christopher John Rogers now has the backing and commercial clout to make real waves in the industry.
This article was originally published on British Vogue.