The Creative Profile Series | Christopher John Rogers

Christopher John Rogers is one of the most popular up and coming designers as of recent; after winning several awards and dressing the likes of Kamala Harris, there’s no doubt that Rogers is well on his way to ever-growing success. 

 

Christopher John Rogers Bio

  • Born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and studied fine arts at the Savannah College of Art and Design 
  • CJR was one of many designers influenced by art; everything from comic books/anime characters to the infamous Paul Gauguin (Post-Impressionist Artist)
  • Worked as a design intern for both Tanya Taylor and Rosie Assoulin in 2015 and 2016 respectively before beginning at DVF (Diane Von Furstenberg)
  • CJR started in 2016 but has already dressed celebrities such as Michelle Obama, Tracee Ellis Ross, Zendaya, Gabrielle Union, Rihanna, and the most recent First Lady and Kamala Harris 
  • Recipient of the CFDA Vogue Fashion Award in 2019 (just three collections after launching his brand) 
  • Rewarded the American Emerging Designer of the Year award by the CFDA in 2020

“What’s CJR most known for? In my opinion, I’d say he’s most recognizable for his use of bold color,
taffeta, and silhouette. Many of his popular pieces protrude at the hips, rounding at the corners
and then moving inwards as we travel down the body in a fashion that mimics the human pelvis”  

CJR – the brand 

What’s beautiful about CJR as a brand is that it’s neither over complicated nor complex. It’s entirely based on sentiment, intuition, elegance, and all the things that bring those ideas forward for the person wearing the garments. Everything is dramatic as hell when you’re wearing one of his pieces, but that’s the point. If you’re someone that knows how to step into the power this is for you. If not, Christopher John Rogers is hoping he can help get you there with his clothing. 

 

Criticisms of CJR

Just like every other designer, Rogers has criticisms. The following comes from one and only Robin Givhan, one of the most well-renowned fashion journalists that currently contributes to The Washington Post. 

“There’s a thick, sometimes impenetrable gloss to Rogers’s work. It can be void of emotion. The best fashion is more than a performance. It’s rooted in humanity — beautiful, painful, powerful, raw…The best clothes are also founded on impeccable technique and glorious fabrics. Rogers’s materials often look flimsy — as if they are little more than sheen and wishful thinking…” (Givhan, n.d.)

 

Although I’m no fashion critic, I think Rogers’ choice of material reinforces some of the fundamentals of CJR as a brand. What Givhan considers ‘flimsy,’ I consider a representation of the whimsicality that the brand embodies. The clothing seems slightly formal yet comfortable; elegant, but not stoic; it comes off as playful and lighthearted rather than restricted. 

 

On another note, this isn’t to say that I think Givhan’s critique is entirely unforgivable; in some cases, I can actually see where she’s coming from. But, I think the point of CJR and these stunning yet simplistic garments is to prioritize the feelings of the person wearing the garment rather than the one observing the garment. CJR gives off an ‘I am the main character’ kind of vibe, so these criticisms could easily be put aside in my opinion. Of course, it would be hard for someone of Givhan’s caliber to do so given her experience in the industry. 

 

Overall, I think CJR represents one of Rogers’ personal principles –  always, always, always, take up space. So long as this is clearly communicated to the audience I think he’ll do just fine. 

 

Collections

And now, for my favorite designer’s collections 🙂

  1. Debut collection (2016): technically named Collection 001 – some label it as an ‘80s inspired collection’ thanks to its combination of bright, neon colors and fun patterns. Cue the fact that you don’t necessarily need the neon lights and hazy atmosphere to emanate the feeling of this decade. 
  2. S/S 2019: CJR’s first NYFW debut. These pieces were inspired by a few different ideas; think of someone preparing to head out for summer vacation, but instead of a beach they’re ‘planning a trip to Mars’. This collection features dazzling ombre sequin skirts, satin pleats, shimmering pantsuits, and a few pieces with intricate, voluminous ruffles. You’ll also see large, Dr.Seuss-like hats – a reference to the wonders of your typical Sunday best outfit. 
  3. Fall 2019: Elements from the previous collection supplement this one. For starters, this is a CJR collection, so there will never NOT be colors present. Other than this we can clearly see that he continues his use of elegant ruffles, tulle shawls, pleats, and plumage. The showstoppers in this lineup mainly consist of stripes, checkered patterns, (with one pattern on one side and one on the other), and human faces as explosive prints.
  4. Christopher John Rogers’ “Vogue Runway” – Fall 2020 RTW:  This is the first collection I saw from Christopher John Rogers. I was immediately drawn to the gorgeous afros that I saw on most of the models: it was nice to see a designer who had a true understanding and appreciation for hair that looked like mine rather than a vague attempt to throw a ‘diverse’ model on the runway. As for the clothing, this is where we really see Rogers show out. You have everything from his iconoclastic ‘strawberry-shaped’ items (which we often see on Tracee Ellis Ross and Zendaya), quinceñera like dresses, and other items with a seemingly duo-toned iridescent velvet material.    
  5. Spring 2021: As you probably know, anybody that produced a collection for this season made it in the midst of the pandemic and Rogers is no different. If you recall what was said earlier about him being inspired by joy and simplicity, this collection was created for exactly that reason. The pandemic did not allow for the time, resources, or patience to create something overly complex (which is not something Christopher John Rogers aims for anyways). Instead, this was inspired by the way children see the world and bring their imaginative ideas to life through drawings and artwork. Rogers and his team also successfully stuck to their tone by showcasing the pieces in a ‘behind the scenes’ sort of fashion – they include the stages and steps you would have to take when setting up and executing a fashion photoshoot throughout their visuals.
  6. January 20, 2021: CJR dresses Kamala Harris and First Lady Jill Biden. I’m sure you’ve seen the pictures, if not you can find them here. Rogers stuck to his impressionistic purple for VP Harris and a gorgeous ocean blue for First Lady Jill Biden.

 

References

  1. Givhan, R. (n.d.). Designer Christopher John Rogers is Determined to be Heard. His Volume is Deafening.  The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2020/02/10/designer-christopher-john-rogers-is-determined-be-heard-his-volume-is-set-deafening/

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