Corrected: Friday, 11/8/19 at 6:35 p.m., ET: An earlier version of this post was titled “For the 2nd Year in a Row, the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Winner Is a Black Designer.” However, we have since been reminded that black designer Telfar Clemens won the award in 2017, making this the third year a black designer has earned the CFDA’s grand prize. The article’s title has been changed to include the prior omission.
The wheels of progress turn slowly. But while slow, things are surely progressing in the fashion industry—which is good because the streets are (always) watching. After a tumultuous year that began with culturally insensitive gaffes followed by any number of corrective measures, we have steadily kept our watch on the industry for initiatives, opportunities, breakthroughs and big wins—particularly for the community who has arguably provided the most inspiration without wielding the same power and influence.
With that in mind, we are thrilled to report that womenswear designer Christopher John Rogers is the 2019 winner of the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, a prize that grants $400,000 and a year of mentorship from a CFDA member to the 25-year-old Baton Rouge, La., native.
“I am so grateful to my parents for giving up so much that allowed me to be here, to my team who, through all the full-time jobs and all the leaving early, allow us to make this collection, and thank you to the judges for seeing something in me,” Rogers said in his acceptance speech, as reported by Vogue.
The Fashion Fund win caps a big year for the Brooklyn-based Rogers, who mounted his first show at New York Fashion Week this September and has reportedly found fans in Michelle Obama, Lizzo, and Tracee Ellis Ross, among others. And as 2018 winner Kerby Jean-Raymond of Pyer Moss can attest, funding and endorsement from the CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America) can be game-changing for any growing label.
So, what can we expect from Rogers moving forward? Judging by the looks he sent down his Spring/Summer 2020 runway: a little camp, vintage-inspired cuts, major pattern play, and a whole lot of color. Rogers is offering a fresh, fun departure from we’re accustomed to seeing from most of the black designers who have thus far broken through (and most designers, in general), so we’re all the way here for it. (Because blackness has never been a monolith, remember?)
Congratulations, Christopher John Rogers! (Now, CFDA and Vogue, let’s work on fostering some black female designers!)