Lizzo and Kamala Harris wear the creations of Christopher John Rogers. He calls it “truly surreal”
Christopher John Rogers is taking over the fashion world.
The fashion designer has styled a host of celebrities such as former first lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Kamala Harris, as well as entertainers Rihanna, Lizzo and Tracee Ellis Ross – and he’s just getting started.
For our series Together We Rise in black history celebration this month, Jenna Bush Hager spoke to Rogers about her journey in the fashion industry and what it’s like to style so many celebrities.
“It’s really surreal,” he said. “I think it’s always really exciting to be able to know that you’ve somehow touched someone aesthetically and emotionally.
“Because there are millions of clothes in the world, and for all these different types of people, whether it’s a Michelle Obama or a Cynthia Nixon or a Saweetie to end up in work – all these different types of people . I think it’s really beautiful and it makes me really happy.”
Rogers’ high-end collections, whose pieces can sell for thousands, are known for being colorful, vibrant and monochromatic. (He also has a limited-edition line with Target..) Her looks feature vibrant colors like lime green, amber orange, and teal.
“One of my favorite stories is that a friend of mine was just wearing a sweater that I designed a few seasons ago. And it was just, like, a colored striped sweater,” a- he shared. “And I thought that was just kind of normal and something that I’ve always wanted to see.
“But she told me she hadn’t received so many compliments in her life from any other piece of clothing. And I think the way we use color and apply it to something that looks really pragmatic, I think that’s what I love about what I do.”
Rogers’ creative eye has made him one of New York’s most sought-after designers. However, his journey to the top was anything but easy.
Growing up in Baton Rogue, Louisiana, Rogers said he felt like a “big fish in a small pond.” His family didn’t know he was talented until his grandmother saw him drawing on walls as a child. His parents decided to put him in an arts program to hone his skills.
Soon, Rogers began using scraps of fabric to create something beautiful around the house.
“I didn’t really know how to create my own patterns or how things came together from a sketch to real life. So I would take a yard of fabric here or a trash bag there, and try to work around the shape and figure something for me,” Rogers recalled.
“I think that kind of self-discovery and not really knowing what you’re doing but letting that guide you and then following your heart, I think that’s really paramount to my process.”
Rogers also found inspiration while attending church and quickly discovered the type of look he wanted to achieve.
“It was kind of my weekly fashion show,” he said. “Every Sunday to go to church and see people dressed in green from head to toe or white from head to toe or yellow from head to toe, these really ostentatious colors, presented in a very simple and pragmatic were truly inspiring tome.”
Rogers graduated from Savannah College of Art and Design before moving to New York in 2016 to start her career. But with no money in his pocket, Rogers ended up working full time at a restaurant and sleeping on a friend’s couch to make ends meet.
All of his free time was spent building his brand, which he says started as a “passionate project.” And after doing that for two or three years, he really started to see things happen for himself. Now, Rogers has shared that he has a “pinch moment” every day.
“To come into an office where I can work and live my dreams, I think is really surreal,” he said.
“I think I’ve been the type of person to keep my head down and work and work and work until things happen. And so I feel like it’s really surreal for me .”
As a young black designer, Rogers knows how inspiring her story can be to others.
“There is no timetable,” he said. “Everyone’s path is different. If it’s something you care about and you really lead with honesty and authenticity and a really strong work ethic, I think anything is really possible for anyone.”