Designer Christopher John Rogers told Refinery29 last year he made clothes that champion the self and encourage new propositions for occasion and celebratory dressing. He also let us in on a little secret: he had honed his brand's DNA to ebb and flow between a constant flux of drama. "Some days I might feel more ostentatious and some days I might feel a bit more reserved in my dress, so I’m interested in how clothes can serve that duality," Rogers told Refinery29 last year. "Think: pragmatic extravagance."
On Saturday, Rogers, one of the 2019 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalists, presented his very first runway collection and illustrated perfectly what "pragmatic extravagance" looks like for spring 2020. Enter 35 looks referencing the designer's interests including old Hollywood, Paul Gaugin's paintings, and the Pierrots, pantomime characters from the late seventeenth-century. According to a release, for this collection, "Christopher John Rogers approached design asking the question: what would it look like if Erté illustrated Jean-Luc Godard’s “Pierrot Le Fou”, against the backdrop of Gauguin’s Polynesia, but also set in 2050?"
The clothing brought Rogers' references brought to life with slouchy blazers, silks that seemed to float, A-line skirts made from canvas, Swarovski crystal-adorned silk button down shirts, emerald green slips, and even some suiting for workwear. This was the third season Rogers collaborated with Swarovski using over 150,000 Swarovski crystals throughout his collection. Models also walked down the catwalk with Swarovski crystals integrated into their jewelry and makeup looks.
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I’ve been processing this moment for the past 24 hours and trying to think of the appropriate words to express my feelings about this moment. Thank you to my team for your consistent selflessness, hard work, dedication and for continuing to encourage me when I felt that this was an impossibility or that we were doing the most (which we were). Thank you to Christina, David, Alex, Jóse, Mina, Angel, Ashley, Gregory, Shea, Sam, Hana, Morgan, Emma, Lauren and Michael for making this collection happen and for imbuing love and passion into every cut, stitch, and crystal placement. Thank you to Ricky, Marcelo, and Naeemah for helping to realize my vision of a diverse, eclectic group of sexy alien beauties to bring life to these clothes, and to my gorgeous models for adding their unique personalities to the runway. The tears and cheers on the runway and backstage are hopefully evidence that we’re moving in the right direction. Christopher John Rogers, Spring Summer 2020, September 7th, 1PM. Styling: @jrivera218 Casting: @rickymichiels MUA: @marcelogutierrez Hair: @naeemahlafond for @amika Set Design: @wentrcek_zebulon Direction: @christinachanel Production / Show PR: @thehintongroup Shoes: @manoloblahnikhq Jewelry: @morganfhill Gloves: @jazzmint.dash Sound Design: @skypewilliams Sponsored generously by: @swarovski and @nyfw
As for Rogers' signature tulle, instead of mountainous gowns, he wrapped the fabric around the model's necks like a scarf. “After hearing the news [about the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund], I wanted to create the biggest splash that I could while addressing concerns about the clothes not being commercial enough or only being evening,” Rogers told Vogue backstage after the show.
Rogers' offering was one of the most awaited during the spring 2020 shows, and a few big name designers sat front row, seemingly as a sign of support. Kerby Jean-Raymond of Pyer Moss, Joseph Altuzarra, Adam Selman, Diane von Furstenberg, Alejandra Alonso Roja were among the crowd that gave the designer a standing ovation at the end of the show.
Rogers put it best it in a heartfelt Instagram caption after his show, "the tears and cheers on the runway and backstage are hopefully evidence that we’re moving in the right direction."