Creativity takes root from various places. For Christopher John Rogers, spring sprung from boredom — Netflix and food fatigue, to be specific. During lockdown, Rogers found himself tired of eating and watching TV to pass the time, so he ordered some markers, crayons and colored pencils online and started doodling. That doodling led to deep consideration of the primacy of color and shape, and the germs of a collection took hold.
“It’s the idea of energy emerging as something visceral as opposed to representational,” said Rogers, who recently received the CFDA’s Emerging Designer Award. “It reminded me of drawing as a kid. Kids can take something that has so much meaning and reduce it to something quite simplistic in a drawing. That’s the starting point for the collection.”
The concepts of color and shape are primal, and not confined to the unbridled creative expressions of children. Rogers also took inspiration from the artists Ángela de la Cruz, for her manipulations of simple shapes, and the Catholic nun Sister Corita Kent, whose Seventies-Eighties artwork radiated childlike directness from a social justice perspective. (King designed a 1985 version of the U.S. Post Office’s “Love” stamps.) Working from these references, Rogers created a feisty, optimistic collection based on clean lines and a bright, celebratory palette.
Like many designers this season, Rogers opted for a shoot over a show, his photographed by Emmanuel Monsalve. The diverse lineup of models included previous collaborators and friends as well as others cast via Instagram. Their beauty look: all individual, with major coiffeur action going on, evoking women from Veruschka to Serena and Venus Williams, while telegraphing the collection’s broader focus on shape.
Rogers set out to make his daywear as robust as evening. (He’s always done day clothes, but knows that retailers and editors have tended to focus on his nighttime stunners.) He tempered his oversized tailoring somewhat, but still built jackets with a strong shoulder and plenty of room in some good-looking suits. He loves a great shirt and worked it in various colorways (plain white; colorful borders; splashy prints). The newest look: a sleek, whimsical black shirt with three rows of multi-bright buttons, all functional, worn with slim pants with the same button treatment. And the most demonstrative: a giant floor-length hot pink shirtdress over matching pants.
This collection marks Rogers’ first foray into knitwear, rendered in bold stripes, color blocks and body-con shapes that sometimes incorporate geometric shapes including target-like concentric circles at the breasts. “We thought it’s fun,” he said of that curious detailing.
As for evening, it’s characteristically euphoric: printed, tiered trapeze; structured gown with strawberry-shaped skirt; “cotton monster” number, fully boned and corseted, in black with green, red and blue stitching.
Fun and flamboyant — absolutely, yet with a subtext of power dressing. Given their vibrant, crisp audacity, these clothes project a very specific sense of joy, driven by strength and self-assurance. They announce a woman who’s a force to be reckoned with, who wears her optimism with purpose.