It's Christopher John Rogers' party and he'll cry if he wants to.
Part of the magic of Christopher John Rogers is that the brand will make an "it" item out of something you never knew you wanted to wear: An oversized rainbow-striped sweater. A voluminous skirt shaped like a strawberry. A ballon-sleeved and -legged jumpsuit that'll make you feel like a flying squirrel. The designer's understanding and approach to clothing feels more emotional and intuitive than trend-driven. You get the sense that every new collection comes out the kaleidoscopic world it's built for itself, versus one that follows the voracious fashion algorithm.
And more than anything, Christopher John Rogers delights in the surprise: You think it's one thing, but the brand will show you it's two steps ahead of your expectations. Like when it staged a runway show outside of the biannual schedule to present Collection 10, which was filled not with the shapely red-carpet-ready gowns the brand is known for — at least, not just — but rather with a new, colorful proposition for American sportswear. With Collection 11, revealed Friday via a lookbook photographed by César Buitrago, it doubles down on this subversion of what the brand's been known for and demonstrates what it can do.
From the get-go, Christopher John Rogers lets us know this will be different, opening the collection with seven white and off-white looks, American fashion's king of color swapping the rainbow palette he's become synonymous with for shades of Tortilla, Macadamia and Ivory.
It's not just a visual reset: Christopher John Rogers is, in a way, telling us how to consume the collection, which is subtitled "It's My Party and I'll Cry If I Want To." Look at the details, the construction, the clever design that make these clothes spectacular and connect them to the 10 lines that precede it.
The brand eases into color with a green ("Cardamom") striped shirt-and-trouser set, a green ("Lettuce") tweed sheath dress and matching coat and a trio of black ensembles: an eyelet caftan, a bow blouse with cargo pants, and an open-front knit bodysuit. Following are a series of electrifying colors and prints that borrow from some of the most unexpected, extreme parts of nature: a muted orange-tinged "Carpaccio" pink, yellow greens that take after "Algae" and "Seaweed," "Acai" and "Grape" purples, a black lily floral, a red-orange-to-yellow "Crawfish" gradient.
Another code of Christopher John Rogers is an underlying sense of playfulness, one that touches every aspect of the collection, from the inspiration (in addition to the plucked-from-nature prints, there's a harlequin pattern that features prominently), to the names of the colors and design details (i.e. the circle cutouts dubbed "Hole Punch"), to the styling (like how the model for Look 2 dons a red clown nose). With Collection 11, the brand also doubles down on a few silhouettes as brand staples: cargo pants, ruffle-front button-downs, bustiers, strawberry skirts and, of course, rainbow knits.
In just a few years (don't forget that the team graduated from SCAD in 2016), Christopher John Rogers has gone beyond establishing itself as a brand to watch to solidifying its place as a leader in New York fashion by doing things its way and understanding not just what its customer wants, but what will delight them. And we could all use a little bit more joy in our fashion, no?
See all the looks in Christopher John Rogers Collection 11 below.