On a wilting 93-degree September afternoon deep in Manhattan’s Chinatown, Christopher John Rogers’ presentation, his first, was as fresh as a dewy garden daisy. Rogers, 24 and two years out of SCAD, has the joie de vivre a young designer needs to fuel anyone passionate enough to make a go at this business, and it bounced off his clothes. He described the collection as befitting “a deserted California beach that had a midcentury couture salon show on the beach, but on Mars.” His marigold wrap shirt over a multicolored ombré sequined skirt, an optic black-and-white ballskirt topped with a graffitied furry stole and a mismatched plaid suit accessorized with a blue straw hat seemed like they would be quite appropriate for a beachside Martian couture show.

Worn by male and female models alike with little regard for traditional gender norms, the clothes had color, volume, fantasy and a sense of humor. What’s more, they were almost all made by Rogers himself. The silhouettes were by no means perfectly polished, but he has an eye. Clearly on a budget and more creative for it, Rogers, who works full-time as an associate designer at Diane von Furstenberg, makes his own collection at night with his business partner, who works at Marc Jacobs. “We just come home and say ‘no’ to friends and make clothes,” said Rogers. “Because we just have to do this.” Music to a cynical critic’s ears.

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