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Christopher John Rogers Is Making the Most Elegant Clothes for Self-Expression

"When one is forced to discover themselves through societal limitations and expectations of how they should present themselves, how does that feeling inform a designer of that experience?"
Christopher John Rogers Collection 009. Photo: César Buitrago/Courtesy of Christopher John Rogers

Christopher John Rogers Collection 009. Photo: César Buitrago/Courtesy of Christopher John Rogers

It's been a big year for Christopher John Rogers, and the 2021 American Womenswear Designer of the Year is closing it out on a high note by dropping a new collection that will surely delight his fans and customers, or anyone who likes to look at pretty things.

For Collection 009, Rogers continued to build on and evolve his namesake brand's codes and signatures. The designer honed in on his customer  — "individualists who continue to seek the tools Rogers creates for a carving out autonomy and self-expression," per the collection notes — and thought about the tools he wished he'd had in his youth. He reflected on growing up in the South and the preppy-ness, propriety and pulled-together-ness that dictated how people were expected to dress, and married that aesthetic with more idiosyncratic influences: "an early adolescence spent surfing online forums, navigating video games and perusing for individuality in secondhand shops," as well as paper balls, trash bags and carry-out bags.

The collection notes ask: "When one is forced to discover themselves through societal limitations and expectations of how they should present themselves, how does that feeling inform a designer of that experience?"

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This manifested in a line filled with both timeless elegance and quirky individualism: prim-and-proper, couture-like dresses and tailored separates in bright, distinctive shades of green, pink and orange; youthful prints like polka dots meant to look like marker doodles on a child's bedroom wall; many different takes on stripes, "one of the only prints that Christopher was comfortable enough to wear growing up."

Rogers may be known for his remarkable way with bright colors, but this collection also included a few quieter looks for those moments when the CJR customer isn't feeling as showy: a clean, strapless gown and a tailored, cropped suit in a pale grey; a voluminous halter gown with matching opera gloves in cream; a body-hugging knit dress in black with a thin neon trim. Each with their own special, off-kilter subtleties, these looks prove Rogers can do a lot without necessarily "doing the most."

If you're looking for an extravagant last-minute gift or want to ensure your first clothing purchase of 2021 is a super-special one, you can preorder the collection from Dec. 18 through Jan. 9 on christopherjohnrogers.com.

See the full Christopher John Rogers Collection 009 in the gallery below.

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