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Rihanna, Michelle Obama, and Now the CFDA Agree: You Need to Know Christopher John Rogers

The 25-year-old designer and CVFF winner is about to be everywhere.


Courtesy of Christopher John Rogers

Things couldn’t be moving faster for the 25-year-old designer Christopher John Rogers, who was awarded this year’s CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund (CVFF) on Monday night, less than two months after making his official runway debut at New York Fashion Week. But, for the entirety of his admittedly short career, Rogers has always moved at lightning speed. Shortly after completing his studies at the Savanah College of Art and Design in 2016, his graduate collection resurfaced—at the 2017 BET Hip Hop Awards, on the silhouette of none other than Cardi B.

Rogers’s use of mink and fox fur might not have aged well, but his overall approach to design certainly has. From the start, Rogers has drawn on wide-ranging references—in the case of his debut, the artist Josef Albers’s theories of color relativity, as well as ethnographic portraiture by photographers Richard Avedon, Malick Sidibé, and Jackie Nickerson—but strayed from pretension, resulting in wildly imaginative, and yet somehow still wearable, silhouettes and separates. With a post-grad move to Brooklyn, the Baton Rouge-born designer’s vision only strengthened: By the time he showed his second presentation at New York Fashion Week, Rogers had mastered the art of playful, artistic evening wear. Even the seemingly ill-advised combination of checker and zebra prints—a motif throughout his third collection—had a distinct air of elegance.

The Best Looks From Christopher John Rogers Spring/Summer 2020

A look from Christopher John Rogers’s spring/summer 2020 collection, which marked the designer’s New York Fashion Week runway debut in September 2019.

Courtesy of Christopher John Rogers

A look from Christopher John Rogers’s spring/summer 2020 collection, which marked the designer’s New York Fashion Week runway debut in September 2019.

Courtesy of Christopher John Rogers

A look from Christopher John Rogers’s spring/summer 2020 collection, which marked the designer’s New York Fashion Week runway debut in September 2019.

Courtesy of Christopher John Rogers

A look from Christopher John Rogers’s spring/summer 2020 collection, which marked the designer’s New York Fashion Week runway debut in September 2019.

Courtesy of Christopher John Rogers

A look from Christopher John Rogers’s spring/summer 2020 collection, which marked the designer’s New York Fashion Week runway debut in September 2019.

Courtesy of Christopher John Rogers

A look from Christopher John Rogers’s spring/summer 2020 collection, which marked the designer’s New York Fashion Week runway debut in September 2019.

Courtesy of Christopher John Rogers

A look from Christopher John Rogers’s spring/summer 2020 collection, which marked the designer’s New York Fashion Week runway debut in September 2019.

Courtesy of Christopher John Rogers

A look from Christopher John Rogers’s spring/summer 2020 collection, which marked the designer’s New York Fashion Week runway debut in September 2019.

Courtesy of Christopher John Rogers

A look from Christopher John Rogers’s spring/summer 2020 collection, which marked the designer’s New York Fashion Week runway debut in September 2019.

Courtesy of Christopher John Rogers

A look from Christopher John Rogers’s spring/summer 2020 collection, which marked the designer’s New York Fashion Week runway debut in September 2019.

Courtesy of Christopher John Rogers

A look from Christopher John Rogers’s spring/summer 2020 collection, which marked the designer’s New York Fashion Week runway debut in September 2019.

Courtesy of Christopher John Rogers

A look from Christopher John Rogers’s spring/summer 2020 collection, which marked the designer’s New York Fashion Week runway debut in September 2019.

Courtesy of Christopher John Rogers
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In maturing, Rogers also set himself up for a deluge of celebrity endorsements. Along with Rihanna—whose approval is essentially a rite of passage for emerging designers—Regina King and Michelle Obama joined Rogers’s fan club by stepping out in his metallic tailored pantsuits. Tracee Ellis Ross elevated his gowns to the level of couture Valentino, while at the other end of the spectrum, Lizzo sent a lime green jolt through the MTV TV and Movie Awards red carpet as Rogers transformed her into the “baddest bitch in Whoville.” Most recently, a very pregnant Ashley Graham joined their ranks by wearing a custom Rogers design—fittingly enough, seeing as she ended the night with presenting him with the CVFF.

Lizzo, Michelle Obama, and More Celebs in Christopher John Rogers

Cardi B wearing a look from Christopher John Rogers’s first collection at the BET Hip Hop Awards, October 2017.

Courtesy of @christopherjohnrogers

Gabrielle Union-Wade wearing a look from Christopher John Rogers’s fourth collection, spring/summer 2020, April 2019.

Courtesy of @christopherjohnrogers

Michelle Obama wearing custom Christopher John Rogers at the final stop of the Becoming book tour in Nashville, Tennessee, May 2019.

Courtesy of @christopherjohnrogers

Greta Lee wearing a look from Christopher John Rogers’s fourth collection, spring/summer 2020, at the 71st Emmy Awards in Los Angeles, September 2019.

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Tessa Thompson wearing a look from Christopher John Rogers’s third collection on Jimmy Kimmel Live, November 2018.

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Tracee Ellis Ross wearing a look from Christopher John Rogers’s fourth collection, spring/summer 2020, September 2019.

Courtesy of @christopherjohnrogers

Lizzo wearing custom Christopher John Rogers at the MTV Movie and TV Awards in Santa Monica, California, June 2019.

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Rihanna wearing custom Christopher John Rogers in Seoul, Korea, September 2019.

Courtesy of @christopherjohnrogers

Ashley Graham wearing custom Christopher John Rogers at the CFDA / Vogue Fashion Fund Awards at Cipriani South Street in New York City, November 2019.

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And yet, when WWD paid a visit to the 25-year-old’s studio in September, he only had three staff members—two of whom, like Rogers, live in the same studio where they work. With that in mind, there’s no telling what he’ll be able to get done with a year of mentorship from a member of the CFDA. (Not to mention $400,000.)

Related: Step Back Into the Streets and Clubs of 70’s Mali with Malick Sidibé