University of Fashion Blog

Posts Tagged: "Christopher John Rogers"

FORGET POLITICS…MADAM VP IS A STYLE ICON IN THE MAKING

(Left to Right) U.S. second gentleman Doug Emhoff, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, and President Joe Biden at their Inauguration.
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

U.S. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris just completed their first weeks in office. While the dynamic duo has already brought about plenty of positive changes, they also amped-up the fashion quotient in D.C. Thanks to First Lady Dr. Jill Biden and VP Kamala Harris, and finally, American young designers are once again at the forefront of the world fashion stage.

Former First Lady Michelle Obama was a true champion of young American designers and during her eight years as First Lady she has worn everything from Jason Wu to Narciso Rodriguez, turning American designers into household names. American Designers created custom looks for the former First Lady and when she wore a young designer’s creation, the publicity was a dream-come-true. In 2016 when former President Trump took office, many designers disagreed with Trumps’ political stance, and declined to dress the former First Lady Melania Trump, so many of Melania Trump’s outfits were purchased, as opposed to being custom-created or gifted, as is tradition. While this was great for retailers, American designers suffered not being in the political limelight.

Doug Emhoff and Kamala Harris, in Altuzarra, as she accepted the nomination for the vice presidency at the Democratic National Convention. (Photo Credit: Win Mcnamee for Getty Images)

Thankfully, this will all change as the United States moves into a new era of leadership, all eyes will be on Vice President Harris to see what subtle statements she will make with her wardrobe choices. Throughout the campaign trail, Kamala Harris’ wardrobe remained consistent: a business-ready pantsuit or blazer worn with jeans; her shoe choices were also limited to her signature Converse sneakers or a classic pointed-toe pump. The VP also consistently wore her beloved accessory, a string of pearls, a sentimental tribute to her Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority at Howard University. Kamala Harris has broken down many barriers as she is the first female, Black, and South Asian-American Vice President of the United States.

AMERICA’S VP COVERGIRL

Vice President Kamala Harris appears on the February print Vogue cover. (Photo Credit: Tyler Mitchell)

VP Harris’ style has evolved greatly since the early days of her campaign trail. She has even graced the covers of prestigious fashion magazines, including Elle in November 2020 and the Vogue February 2021 cover that stirred up plenty of controversy involving the most powerful woman in fashion and the most powerful woman in the White House. Social media ran ramped with many accusing the Vogue cover as being “disrespectful”, but Ann Wintour originally described the cover as “joyful, casual, and accessible.”

On the print Vogue cover the VP is dressed in a dark brown jacket by Donald Deal, narrow black jeans, a white t-shirt, her signature Irene Neuwirth pearl necklaces, and trusty Converse sneakers. But the second Vogue cover which was digital, featured a closer-cropped photo of the VP wore a pale blue suit by Michael Kors.

Vice President Kamala Harris wears Michael Kors on the February digital Vogue cover. (Photo Credit: Tyler Mitchell)

Many social media users argued that the Vice President should have been dresses more inspirational than casual.  When Kamala appeared on the cover of “Elle” in November, they captured her strength, warmth, intelligence, and beauty. She looked completely Vice Presidential. Sad that Vogue did not achieve those results in such a momentous moment in American history.

Vice President Kamala Harris appears on the November 2020 Elle cover. (Photo Credit: Inez & Vinoodh)

According to Sway, people familiar with the matter on both sides said that there had been no contractual cover approval agreement in place, the cover image was not what the vice president’s team had expected. The day after the first photo leaked, a second — more formal — digital exclusive cover was also released. Ms. Wintour said in a follow-up statement to Sway, “Obviously we have heard and understood the reaction to the print cover and I just want to reiterate that it was absolutely not our intention to, in any way, diminish the importance of the vice president-elect’s incredible victory.” In an exclusive interview on this episode of “Sway,” Ms. Wintour discusses the magazine cover, diversity concerns at Condé Nast, the future of the fashion industry.

Listen on Apple Podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/sway/id1528594034?i=1000505058648

VICE PRESIDENT KAMALA HARRIS’ STYLE EVOLUTION

Vice President Kamala Harris’ fashion choices. (Photo Credit: Town & Country all Getty Images)

Through the years as a senator in California and on the campaign trail, VP Kamala Harris shied away from fashion. Her uniform consisted of muted pantsuits, blazers, skinny jeans, and her signature Converse sneakers and pearl necklaces. Her sartorial choices were meant to blend into the background while she fought for political change and policies that were dear to her heart.

Then Senator Kamala Harris grilling a Trump administration official in June, 2020. (Photo Credit: Pool for Getty Images)

But once Biden chose her as her running mate, Kamala Harris’ style began to evolve. For starters, Vice President Harris began to collaborate with Hollywood stylist Karla Welch, who is especially known for the perfectly imperfect off-duty looks she creates for her clients, a diverse crew that includes Oprah Winfrey, Justin Bieber, Karlie Kloss, Tracee Ellis Ross, and even Anita Hill. According to Town & Country, “Harris and Welch’s professional partnership is something of a secret—kinda open, kinda not. And neither camp returned emails requesting confirmation.”

During inauguration week, VP Harris’ sartorial choices where on point and rich with meaning, the most powerful woman in the United States wore looks create by designers of color, including Sergio Hudson, Prabal Gurung, Pyer Moss’s Kerby Jean-Raymond and Christopher John Rogers, whose brilliant purple coat and dress was accessorized with pearls by Puerto Rican designer Wilfredo Rosado on the day she was sworn in as Vice President of the U.S.

In a Town & Country interview with Robin Givhan, the only journalist to receive a Pulitzer Prize for fashion criticism, and who is now the Washington Post’s senior critic-at-large, chronicling politics, race and the arts stated, “On one hand, Harris’s clothes are straightforward and professional, especially while she was on the campaign trail. She looks like she could be walking into any major law firm, any Fortune 500 company. But I think there’s also this sort of inability to not discuss her clothes because of the historical nature of her position.”

Fashion is a way for people to get a little slice of Harris’s life and symbolism for themselves. It’s aspirational fashion in a new way. “I also just sort of worry to some degree that we are muddling the line between Vice President and First Lady,” says Givhan.

A First Lady she is not, but she is a first of so many achievements—first woman, first woman of color, first woman of South Asian descent, first daughter of immigrants to hold the office of vice president. So as the most powerful woman of the United States, should the public scrutinize over her sartorial choices? Naturally, her policies and what she does for the nation comes first, but there is nothing wrong with adding a little panache along the way.

Vice President Kamala Harris in Carolina Herrera (Left) and President Joe Biden (Right) on the night they accepted their victory. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Her rise to fashion stardom began in November, the night she took the stage alongside President Joe Biden and they accepted their victory as the newly elected President and Vice President of the United States. VP Harris carefully selected a creamy Carolina Herrera pantsuit and white silk pussy bow blouse, a nod to the suffragist movement, this look was analyzed across every form of media and many approved the look as it stood for how far women have come and she embodied power and beauty in her suit.  The public is watching what VP Harris wears so closely that there is already a useful website, WhatKamalaWore.com, by the journalist Susan E. Kelley, who also curates similar sites about Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton’s sartorial choices.

“I don’t think she needs to make a stand verbally, but I do think there are going to be expectations of her in her position as a woman,” says Peju Famojure, a stylist and fashion consultant who has styled Solange Knowles and consulted with Beyoncé in a Town & Country interview. “There are always expectations tied into women’s fashion choices. People would be happy to see her support brands that are made in America, but also Black-owned brands, giving them representation, not only from a visual standpoint, but also helping to drive monetary success.”

While VP Harris will want people to focus on her politics and not her clothes, as a history-making public figure, her sartorial choices are a part of the picture that many will focus on. So far, Harris’ outfits have been a lesson in a new form of power dressing: her suits and pointed-toe pumps convey an authoritative mindset, while the more casual Converse and jeans signify a relatable casualness, accessible and familiar to the average American.

U.S. second gentleman Doug Emhoff and U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, in Pyer Moss, at the COVID Memorial. (Photo Credit: Patrick T. Fallon via Getty Images)

On January 19th, the eve before the historic inauguration, President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, along with Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff, gathered on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., for a COVID memorial honoring and remembering the more than 400,000 American lives lost to the pandemic so far.

Arranged along both sides of the Mall’s pool of reflection were hundreds of rectangles of light. “To heal we must remember. It’s hard sometimes to remember,” Biden said, “but that’s how we heal. It’s important to do that as a nation…Let us shine the lights in the darkness…and remember all whom we lost.” His words were followed by a moment of silence. While the moment was somber and full of sorrow, there was also a sense of hope.

There is no doubt that the Biden administration will set a completely different tone than the Trump administration, it will also be a breath of fresh air on the fashion front as First Lady Dr. Jill Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have both been championing young American designers and their sartorial choices have been polished, sophisticated, empowering, and bold.  The VP opted to wear a chic camel cashmere coat by Kerby Jean-Raymond of Pyer Moss, which, appeared as a more traditional silhouette from the front, but the back turned revealed a curved shoulder seam that gave way to a flowing, pleated back. Kerby Jean-Raymond is a young Black designer who is likewise weaving purpose into his mission. On his runways, Jean-Raymond has addressed African American narratives in popular culture. In September of last year, he gathered PPE for hospital workers and provided $50,000 in grants for small businesses affected by the COVID crisis.

A back look of U.S. second gentleman Doug Emhoff and U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, in Pyer Moss, at the COVID Memorial. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Harris also took to the podium the night of the COVID Memorial and said, “Tonight we grieve and begin healing together. Though we may be physically separated, we the American people are united in spirit. And my abiding hope, my abiding prayer, is that we emerge from this ordeal with a new wisdom: to cherish simple moments, to imagine new possibilities, and to open our hearts just a little bit more to one another.”

The Vice President chose Prabal Gurung the morning Inaugural Prayer Service. (Photo Credit: @SecondGentleman Instagram)

On January 20th, Inauguration Day, Vice President Kamala Harris began the day at a church service alongside President Biden and his family. Here she chose a look from Prabal Gurung, an American designer who was born in Singapore and grew up in Nepal. She looked stunning in a garnet-hued double-faced wool crepe dress with a matching coat.

As Kamala Harris was sworn in as the Vice President, she wore a pearl necklace by Wilfredo Rosado. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Shortly after Kamala Harris was sworn in as the Vice President of the United States by Sonia Sotomayor, America’s first Latina Supreme Court justice. Our first female VP wore a stellar coat and dress by Christopher John Rogers, a young Black designer, who’s known for his love of bold and vibrant colors and shapes, as well as her signature strand of pearls. Her coat and dress were elegant and chic, while purple symbolizes strength, royalty, hope, and a call for unity at a time of political division; after all, when you mix blue (democrat) and red (republican) together, the color purple is created. A fitting chose for our Vice President.

Wearing Sergio Hudson, VP Kamala Harris continued to show support for black designers at the Inaugural Concert. (Photo Credit: The New York Post)

Later that night, at the Celebrating America event, Vice President Kamala Harris championed another young black designer, Sergio Hudson, as she wore an elegant liquid sequin cocktail dress with a floor-length silk tuxedo overcoat, both in inky black—and topped off the look with Irene Neuwirth earrings.

Since winning the election Vice President Kamala Harris’ fashion game has been strong, but we would love to see her step out of her comfort zone, but still be appropriate for her many meetings as VP.

So tell us, what looks would you like to see Vice President Kamala Harris wear?

IT’S SHOWTIME – NYFW FALL 2020

- - Fashion Shows

Michael Kors Collection Fall 2020 Show (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

In November 2019, The University of Fashion posed the question; “Are Fashion Shows Still Relevant?” that blog post covered the history of fashion shows and why designers still prefer a show. While many argued that fashion shows were an outrageous expense, designers mostly felt that it was worth it if they attracted Instagram Stars and Fashion Bloggers. Today, fashion shows are more about exposure and how many “likes” the’ll get on social media than selling clothes.

This season there were many changes to New York Fashion Week’s calendar. Tom Ford skipped NY and decided to show in LA, Tommy Hilfiger is showing in London, Telfar is showing in Florence and Ralph Lauren is skipping the runway altogether.  So, with so much change, it’s not surprising that famed fashion blogger Bryanboy asked if somebody could look into “why NYFW [has] pretty much died?”

While this may seem like an exaggerated question, it’s a valid one, as designers continue to search for unique places and ways to create buzz. They’ve tried live-streaming shows, opening up their shows to the public, showing their menswear and womenswear collections together, and they even tried to entice sales by showing buy-now-wear-now collections (which ultimately failed). But as we all know, today, consumers shop differently, especially due to the internet. And, unlike their predecessors, Gen Zers are more concerned about their carbon footprint and issues surrounding  over-consumption than they are about the runway.

So, why should designer’s invest thousands of dollars on a runway show? Well according to Jeffry Aronsson, the former CEO of Oscar de la Renta, Marc Jacobs and Donna Karan, who currently consults luxury brands on growth strategies, told Fashionista, that at its core, “the business case for investing in a seasonal fashion show, or any other fashion event, is that it should get the brand the attention of the market and press.” Aronsson states that the measures of success come in the form of online impressions (including social commentary and likes), editorial coverage (both digital and print) and, though difficult to quantify, word of mouth, which helps raise brand awareness, desire and, hopefully, sales.

Erin Hawker, communications expert and founder of Agentry PR, notes that a brand can get 50 to 100 press hits in one single day globally after a runway show (and even double that if there are big-name celebrities involved), as well as millions of earned impressions on social media. “If you assign an editorial value to shows with or without celebrities, it’s usually in the tens of millions of dollars’ worth of impressions,” Hawker says. “This far surpasses the cost of a show.”

So, designers have been listening carefully to the experts. And for those who chose to a have runway show, those brands pulled out all the stops to make it a memorable; a spectacle that their consumers would enjoy, as they watch the videos and images that blow-up their social media feeds. Oh, and in the end…hopefully generate sales.

Here are some images of the more memorable NYFW shows of the Fall 2020 season:

TOM FORD

Tom Ford’s Fall 2020 Los Angeles Show (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

In June 2019, Tom Ford took the helm at the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA). Many fashion insiders were upset (Ford is based in Los Angeles), with one calling it a “slap in the face” to New York Fashion Week. In a statement to the Business of Fashion site, Mr. Ford said: “Someone asked me the other day how I could justify showing in L.A. as I am now the Chairman of the CFDA, and I reminded them that CFDA stood for the Council of Fashion Designers of America and not the Council of Fashion Designers of New York.”

Mr. Ford opted to show in Los Angeles because of the Academy Awards, which took place on Sunday night (Feb. 9, 2020) at the start of NYFW. In a statement to Women’s Wear Daily, Mr. Ford said “the excitement in L.A. on that particular weekend” was a big factor in his decision.

As for the show, it was a star-studded extravaganza and one of the biggest pre-Oscar events. Everyone was there from Jennifer Lopez and Renée Zellweger to Miley Cyrus and Lil Nas X to James Corden and Jon Hamm. There were so many power players, that some celebs were even pushed back to the second row.

As for the clothes, they were infused with Mr. Ford’s signature glam, mixed in with streetwear elements. Case in point; a chic oversized leopard print coat, worn over a sweatsuit. The collection also featured plenty of menswear inspired high-waisted, baggy trousers paired with logo sweatshirts and topped off with terrific outerwear. For evening, Mr. Ford turned up the glitz with bold colored turtleneck sweaters paired with sequin maxi skirts, delicate lace dresses and a show-stopping crystalized halter gown.

This extravaganza was anything but the traditional runway show.

RODARTE

Rodarte Fall 2020 Show (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Laura and Kate Mulleavy have always been inspired by theatrics and Hollywood for their beloved label Rodarte. For Fall 2020, the sisters looked to vampires for inspiration, more notably, Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula, which in turn inspired—Francis Ford Coppola’s indelible 1992 adaptation of the book, starring Winona Ryder. The sisters found the perfect setting as the backdrop to the gothic tail; a dimly lit St. Bartholomew’s church in Midtown Manhattan.

While the Mulleavy sisters created a cinematic goth setting, the clothes were anything but. The collection featured a nod to the forties with playful polka-dot dresses, dramatic pouf sleeve blouses and bold floral gowns. Then, things became dramatically dark and sinister with cobweb embellishments on a few gowns, as well as black fringe capes that resembled clumps of witches’ hair. Laura and Kate Mulleavy returned to their gothic roots in a fashionably haunting way.

TORY BURCH

Tory Burch’s Fall 2020 Show (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Forever the art aficionado, Tory Burch chose the iconic Sotheby’s as her latest show venue as models strutted among the auction merch. It was the ideal location for her Fall 2020 collection as it was a happy jolt of vivid floral prints in everything from tailored suits to cozy sweaters and everything in between. Burch was inspired by the Francesca DiMattio’s ceramic sculptures (which were situated on the runway) and had the artist design many of the floral prints found in the show. Bravo Tory Burch for creating such a joyful collection in these unsettling times.

BRANDON MAXWELL

Brandon Maxwell’s Fall 2020 Show (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

One can always expect to have fun at Brandon Maxwell’s show. In the past he even served Shake Shack to editors before his show.  For Fall 2020, the celebrity stylist-turned-designer did not disappoint. He showed his youthful eveningwear at the American Museum of Natural History with their iconic dioramas  of ‘taxidermied’ moose and grizzlies. It was like a genuine slice of Americana. Maxwell also offered plenty of daywear this season with beautifully tailored outerwear, chic knits and low-cut trousers. For night, there were a few sheer numbers that felt out of place, but overall, this was a strong show, one that proves Maxwell is more than just a red-carpet designer.

COACH

Debbie Harry Performs at the Coach Fall 2020 Show (photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Coach’s Creative Director, Stuart Vevers, likes to draw inspiration from artists and has often incorporated their work into his collections. In the past, he’s featured works by Keith Haring (Spring 2018), Kaffe Fassett (Fall 2019) and Richard Bernstein (Spring 2020). For Fall 2020, he referenced Jean-Michel Basquiat — not just by weaving his drawings into his ready-to-wear and accessories  but also by bringing some of his family members to the show. The late artist’s niece, Jessica Kelly, actually walked the runway! She, and the rest of the models, made their way across a warehouse-turned-runway — meant to replicate the feel of a city loft — all while the legendary Debbie Harry performed on stage.

CHRISTOPHER JOHN ROGERS

Christopher John Rogers Fall 2020 Show (Photo courtesy of Dia Dipasupil for Getty Images)

Recent CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Award winner, Christopher John Rogers, brought back old-school glamour but with a modern twist for his Fall 2020 collection. His gowns were bold and vivid, perfect for young scarlets wanting to stand-out on the red carpet.

Rogers infused saturated hues into his collection and is fast becoming known for his shapely silhouettes. Think balloon sleeves, voluminous skirts and innovating draping – all in oversized, exaggerated shapes.

MARC JACOBS

Marc Jacobs’ Fall 2020 Show (Photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Everyone looks forward to the end of NYFW because of the Marc Jacobs show. For Fall 2020, the designer didn’t disappoint.  The show began with a surge of energy. Dancer/choreographer Karole Armitage, found the spotlight in the darkness of the Park Avenue Armory and reminded us that, why in the 80s, she earned the nickname the “punk ballerina.” Although her performance was brief, it was electrifying. Following Armitage, a crew of dancers followed, creating an entertaining and engaging backdrop; the dancers were clad in Marc Jacobs dance pieces, such as bras, slip dresses, skirts, basic T-shirts and black pants.

As for the clothes, it was a nod to the Sixties – Jackie Kennedy, Rosemary Woodhouse, the mods – all with a touch of nineties minimal. It was pure Marc in the early days of his career. He showed three-button A-line coats, pastel minidresses with matching jackets, tailored suits and simple sweaters worn over straight leg trousers; Miley Cyrus made an appearance on the runway wearing a black bra and trouser. For evening, Jacobs created a number of sequin sheath dresses in a variety of colors and a pink opera coat worn over a gown with a tiny bow at the bust that had Jackie Kennedy written all over it.

It wouldn’t be NYFW without a bit of controversy, right (in addition to Tom Ford showing in LA, Tommy Hilfiger in London and Jeremy Scott in Paris)? Well, thanks to a New York Times article, we learned that NYFW shows leave the biggest carbon footprint when it comes to travel, buyers, and brands.

So tell us: Time to rethink the runway show?