Christopher John Rogers

All clothing throughout by Christopher John Rogers

The 2021 LVMH Prize: Christopher John Rogers

The words 'pragmatic glamour' might sound like an oxymoron, but they're the best way to describe Christopher John Rogers's work. In fact, they've become a bit of a catchphrase for the designer since he launched his namesake brand in 2016.

The idea is clearly working, as the label has gone from strength to strength in recent years. Rogers has secured stockists like Net-A-Porter, Bergdorf Goodman, and McMullen. Zendaya, Rihanna, and Michelle Obama are all fans. He's also created some internet-breaking looks: Who could forget Kamala Harris's purple inauguration coat or Lil Nas X'ss neon green suit at the 2019 AMAs? "As any artist from humble beginnings will tell you, it's been a rollercoaster," Rogers says. "I've had plenty of amazing opportunities and learned some equally tough lessons along the way, but I'm incredibly grateful to be where I am now."

Rogers has reached this point thanks to his unabashedly feminine, refreshingly formal, and yet totally approachable touch. His silhouettes nod to Dior's and Balenciaga's Fifties heydays while still feeling contemporary. The designer attributes that balance to his background: "Growing up in Louisiana was great. There's a culture of dressing all the way up for certain events and being incredibly casual for others, so I like to mix both ideas in my work."

The 2021 LVMH Prize: Christopher John Rogers

Rogers has somehow sussed out how to create Instagram catnip—shots of celebrities in his candy-wrapper red carpet looks are irresistible—without relying on logos or buzzy trends. In today's world of fast fashion, in which both designer and high-street brands churn out disposable pieces, Rogers's clothes feel truly special. While he is at pains to clarify that the label is not couture, there is an old-fashioned charm to the quality of his pieces. "We really consider the longevity of each garment and whether it deserves to exist," he explains. "When there are so many clothes, how does this thing become as special as it can be?"

The designer has also been applauded for catering to women of all shapes and sizes, including Lizzo and Ashley Graham. The voluminous silhouettes and unrestrictive pieces make space for bodies that are so often marginalized or ignored by the industry (most luxury household names don't offer anything above a US size 8 or 10). That kind of inclusivity comes naturally to Rogers. "I come from a family of folks of differing ages, shapes, and sizes," he explains. "I don’t try and force anything really or try to be overly cerebral, but I do try to be cognizant of the fact that there are so many types of bodies out there that deserve to be able to feel at home in these clothes."

The 2021 LVMH Prize: Christopher John Rogers

As for the clothes themselves, Rogers is known for his oversized, Eighties-inspired tailoring, iridescent taffeta puffball dresses, and floor-sweeping, doorway-blocking gowns in vibrant hues. But he has toned things down in the past two seasons (the pleated skirt sets and coveted knit dresses are true desk-to-dinner pieces), which is only natural given the pandemic. "For Fall 2021, I wanted a similar feeling to last season but with a shadow over it," he elaborates, "exploring this idea of darkness and investigating something moody while still keeping a vibrancy, buoyancy, and 'graphacism,'" another Rogers neologism.

The end result is that CJR's rainbow color palettes are still there, but they've been pared back or offset with black. He's diverted a little from those Eighties silhouettes with other retro references like point collars, mock necks, and flared sleeves. And while his signature oversized dresses are alive and well, others have sleeker silhouettes: There's a drop-waist, box-pleat flapper midi; a corseted halter wiggle number; silk-satin slips; and shirt dresses. Don't mistake this new direction for minimalism, though. For every shrunken shape, there's a bold fabrication to balance it: ombré dyes, sparkling paillettes, Lurex velvets, spotted jacquard-satins, and rainbow stripes aplenty.

This is music to the ears of those who loathed their lockdown loungewear prisons. With another Roaring Twenties apparently around the corner, surely Rogers relishes the prospect of a formalwear renaissance? "I think the pandemic has magnified the fact that nothing is guaranteed or promised and things can change in an instant," he says. "People are now, more than ever, leaning into who they are as individuals and how they want to dress, regardless of trend."

The 2021 LVMH Prize: Christopher John Rogers

Basically, there's never been a better time for a unique and joy-sparking label like CJR. And just as winning the CDFA Award allowed his small team of five to move into their first studio in Brooklyn, receiving funding from the LVMH Prize this year could push the label to the next level. "I think we have so much potential to grow and potentially invest in new product categories, but I want to have the resources to be able to continue doing it in a slow, intentional, sustainable way," he explains. "I'm all about the long haul."

Speaking of taking it slowly, Rogers admits that if he does win he'll "celebrate by sleeping for a week!" We had pictured him out on the town, possibly clad in head-to-toe taffeta, but balance is at the heart of CJR—and, of course, a man's got to sleep.

For more information, please visit See the full portfolio of the 2021 LVMH Prize finalists here. Read this story and many more in print by preordering our Fall 2021 issue here.

The 2021 LVMH Prize: Christopher John Rogers
Model: Aamito Lagum at Heroes Model Management. Hair by Edward Lampley at Bryant Artists. Makeup by Ayami Nishimura at Statement Artists. Nails by Maki Sakamoto at The Wall Group.. Photographer's assistant: Sam Williams. Casting by Jonathan Johnson. Shot at Slate Studios, New York.

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