Christopher John Rogers Makes the Case for Glamour

Christopher John Rogers Makes the Case for Glamour
Graphic:Joan Summers

Christopher John Rogers was the undisputed recipient of the CFDA Fashion Fund last fall, his prior collections laying a glamorous siege on the hearts and minds of fashion critics everywhere. Specifically, I was enraptured by the bright colors, dramatic ruffles, architectural suiting, and effortless draping. His latest collection is no different, showing what a designer can achieve when he goes from stitching massive ballgowns in his apartment to having the gale force of the CFDA under his wings.

There is certainly a lot of fashion at Fashion Week, that being the whole point of the sometimes pointless enterprise. But recently, there has been a lack of glamour. (It died with Tom Ford, I guess!) A nebulous concept, it is only achieved through the alchemy of a designer’s spirit, the attitude of their clothes, and the beauty and drama it brings out in models and customers. If it was an easy concoction, this would be a meaningless diatribe. But that’s exactly it—glamour is near impossible to achieve, a bolt of lightning in a deserted landscape.

Screenshot:NYFW: The Shows (Youtube)

Early in the show, Rogers led with vibrant oranges and yellows, playfully imbibing them into belted ball gowns and ruffled tops. On other runways, the effect might read as clownish, but under Rogers’ unparalleled tailoring, the effect is nothing short of breathtaking. Besides that, the models all looked like they were having the best time of their lives walking down the runway in these clothes, an effect that speaks to Rogers’s keen sense of what makes women feel not only beautiful but comfortable and free. (Three pounds of ruffled taffeta notwithstanding.)

There’s also an interesting color story at work in this collection, with the designs slowly transitioning from shades of sunset to breathtaking neons and greens. There’s a structurally flawless blazer with just a pop of neon underneath, paired with a fun take on a cowl neck scarf shirt. Seams on the dresses, meanwhile, again show off Rogers’s flawless tailoring, cinching them in all the right places. There’s also a jaw-dropping green ballgown that floored me upon first witnessing it. The crowd, noticeably, felt the same.

Screenshot:NYFW: The Shows (Youtube)

What’s brilliant about Rogers, as both a fashion house and as an individual, is the consistent growth seen throughout the past two years of showing at New York Fashion Week. Lesser designers, after receiving the massive influx of cash and attention post-Fashion Fund, might find themselves languishing in a sort of creative rut. (Paul Andrew, creative director for Salvatore Ferragamo, is a notable example.) Rogers has experienced anything but!

It isn’t just the dresses at Christopher John Rogers that shine this season. Equal love is given to effortless suiting, and tops with that familiar Rogers ruffle. There’s also a fun rainbow effect that happens on the runway as you watch the show, with just about every color equally represented. Such motifs can easily slip into dangerously tacky territory, but Rogers’s principled skills and a keen eye for glamour keep it floating just above the surface of the Earth—like a rainbow itself!

Screenshot:NYFW: The Shows (Youtube)

And lastly, there is a show-stopping gown that helps close out the program. With the popularity of the excessive ballgown made only more famous by coutiers at Valentino and Giambattista Valli, it’s a silhouette that might be seen as derivative. But Rogers, ever skillful, adds an interesting ruching effect to its front that elevates the garment. Whereas last season’s Balenciaga offered similar architecture in its own ballgowns, those dour constructions (which I love!) are greatly contrasted with Rogers’ joyful, exuberant take on the trend. More, more, more, please!

Screenshot:NYFW: The Shows (Youtube)

It cannot be understated how incredibly lucky we all are to live in the time of Christopher John Rogers, who has once again breathed life into the ever-lifeless New York Fashion Week. As his pieces slowly make their way into the consumer market, no thanks to the CFDA and Anna Wintour, I can’t wait to see what new elevations he and his design team might reach. Long live glamour!

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