Crinkled trash bags and Madame Grès. Christopher John Rogers had both on his mind for the collection he showed on Saturday night, a glamorama of high-intensity, notice-me clothes of the sort that garnered him the Vogue/CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund award.
Rogers’ set, designed by the Barcelona-based design studio, Sauras + Garriga, featured dramatic draperies derived from images of old-school fashion salons and a modernist take on a chandelier imported from Barcelona. The cheeky nod to formality mirrored the spirit of numerous Rogers’ supporters in the audience, who worked the designer’s flamboyant clothes with happy irreverence.
It all set the mood for a show in which Rogers invoked his oppositional references to engaging effect. Unlike other designers who have made literal reference to everyday-life items, there were no luxed-up deli bag sightings here, only some interesting crinkled fabrics. Nor did Rogers draw straight lines to Madame Grès’ most celebrated work, the goddess dress. Instead, he had an eye on her lesser-known constructed gowns and intense color combinations.
From there, he went to town — vibrant palette, glistening materials, dramatic silhouettes. The guy loves color and the voltage was as flamboyant as it gets — yellows, oranges, reds — rendered with euphoric overstatement. Rogers also loves a ballgown and showed two out-to-there numbers, one in shimmering green, one in raspberry and blue plaid, each with a horizontal reach that might have challenged Marie Antoinette.
Yet such flourish shouldn’t be confused with folly. Rogers makes clothes that women can wear, and for fall often tempered his structural exuberance without sacrificing wit or visual impact. Linear looks hugged curves or draped softly but not quietly. Suitings worked in graphic fabric mixes had strong, Balenciaga-like shoulders. A ruffled dress-shirt motif looked delightful in acid colors; recolored in, say, black or white, it could cross over to wardrobe staple.
Rogers’ aesthetic and execution are works in progress. Some of his shapes were a little awkward, and the show’s leisurely pace could have been picked up a beat or two. But he more than compensated for the blips with his sense of unbridled joy and a level of daring that New York fashion needs, and with some very appealing clothes.
WATCH: Getting Dressed for NYFW Spring 2020 With Christopher John Rogers