The new designers to watch for at NY Fashion Week
Christopher John Rogers
Rogers has dressed the likes of Tracee Ellis Ross, Tessa Thompson and even Michelle Obama.
But the 25-year-old still produces his collection at night, after his fashion-consulting job, out of the Bushwick apartment he shares with two of his label’s three other employees.
“It’s definitely interesting,” Rogers says with a laugh. “Our living room is literally two pattern tables, a sewing machine, a whiteboard and racks. But we’re all super close as a result.”
That irrepressible spirit is evident in the clothes they hand-sew. While many of Rogers’ peers are busy tweaking streetwear or Americana, he’s blazed his own colorful, zany path: gowns with tiers upon tiers of ruffles, electric-hued hand-painted bustiers, zebra stripes mixed with harlequin checks, sparkly pink pantsuits. He describes his fifth collection, debuting at New York Fashion Week Saturday, as: if Art Deco illustrator Erté had drawn the French New Wave film “Pierrot le Fou,” but set it in a Gauguin painting in the year 2050.
“It’s, like, a lot,” Rogers admits. But, “it’s all about encouraging people to have fun with fashion and be happy and live in a really exuberant way.”
Rogers, who grew up in Baton Rouge, La., has always gravitated toward exuberant clothes. For his fourth grade school picture, he dressed in head-to-toe yellow. “Yellow faux fur vest, a yellow turtleneck, yellow cargo pants and yellow Converse. It was a mess – but actually amazing,” he recalls.
Rogers got interested in fashion through comic books and manga. And his parents — who work in agricultural technology and medicine — began driving him to a neighbor’s house for sewing lessons during high school. “Their encouragement of me from such a young age is why I think I’m so self-assured about my point of view.”
That POV has stayed consistent, through studying at Savannah College of Art and Design and working as a designer for Diane von Furstenberg — which he did while launching his own line (he finally quit his DVF gig in March).
And while his rainbow-colored, in-your-face fashion may not be practical, it feels of-the-moment — reminiscent of the superheroes he idolized as a kid.
“As a gay black man, I’ve been conditioned to like to think I need to stay in the shadows,” he says. “A lot of people — whether they be a certain size or background — feel that way … I think giving people the tools to visually stand their ground, and make people notice them and pay attention to them, is needed — especially today when so many people are under attack.”
He’s also staking out more ground at home. His next goal? A separate design studio. “We need to get a couch!”
Hu’s romantic fairytale confections — featuring hand-finished tulle and delicate lace — had fashionistas swooning after her debut show last season. Born in Shenzhen, China, Hu learned to paint at an early age from her father, and art still influences her work. Her last collection was based on Matisse’s “Woman Reading.” Her next should be even grander: The recent Parsons grad, now based in NYC, won the inaugural Business of Fashion China prize this spring, which comes with $100,000.
As an industrial design student in Mexico City, Victor Barragán began creating graphic T-shirts with silly memes and nostalgic pop culture references, like the word “Lesbian” done in the “Friends” TV logo. Now he’s all grown up; his cutout logo-emblazoned baby tees, deconstructed skirt-pant hybrids and crop tops made of puffer jackets have been picked up by hip downtown fashion mecca Opening Ceremony.
Alejandra Alonso Rojas
The Madrid-born Rojas comes from four generations of knitters — and it shows. Her woven sweaters, coats and dresses have a sophisticated coziness. The NYC-based designer launched her eponymous line in 2016, but her vibrantly colored, breezily sexy silk dresses have recently become a celeb fave, seen on Priyanka Chopra, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Kim Kardashian — on the cover of Vogue, no less.
Matthew Adams Dolan
After a fiery debut last September, Matthew Adams Dolan sat out last Fashion Week. Thankfully, he’s back. Dolan has a fresh approach to traditional Americana — his mom was an “avid” quilter and needleworker, per his website — and his oversize poplin shirts, easy knits and innovative workwear have won over none other than Rihanna, his No. 1 muse and cheerleader.
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