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The Fashion Memo

4 emerging designers to put on your radar

L-R: floral blazer and skirt, Christopher John Rogers; pink blouse and skirt, Christopher John Rogers; feather-trimmed dress, Ioannes; black dress, GAUCHERE; bag, S.Joon

The latest clutch of designers to join The Vanguard – our selection of the new wave of fashion talent, empowered through our global mentorship program – includes whimsical eveningwear inspired by superheroes and worn by pop royalty, nightclub-ready mini dresses with a couture feel, remarkable sculptural handbags named after unremarkable everyday items, and a label dedicated to doing things differently. Meet the design virtuosos behind this season’s standout brands. By GILLIAN BRETT

Photography Estelle HananiaStyling Marquessa Lucas-Box
Christopher John Rogers (center) has quickly become a highlight of New York Fashion Week. Models wear black blouse and pants, and green dress, all by the designer

Christopher John Rogers

When Joseph Altuzarra and Diane von Furstenberg are propping up the front row of a designer’s runway debut, and the show receives a standing ovation, you know you’ve found the one to watch. But Christopher John Rogers’ extravagant, jewel-toned eveningwear isn’t just loved by fashion insiders – Michelle Obama, Lizzo, Tracee Ellis Ross and Rihanna are also admirers of the Louisiana-born, New York-based wunderkind.

“It really hammered home the fact that the clothes are quite emotional and elicit this visceral reaction in people, which is the whole goal,” says Rogers of the response to his runway inauguration. Since winning the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund last November, Rogers’ stint in the spotlight looks set to linger. With an exacting eye for detail, he designs from his Brooklyn atelier and produces most of his collections in the garment district in New York so that he can ensure the finished product remains true to his brilliant vision.

“I’ve always been inspired by superheroes and comic books, the transformative power of clothes and their ability to imbue something new in the wearer.” The cascading tulle gowns, loaded with volume, and crisply tailored taffeta suits are indeed transformative and meant to make you stand out, but as Rogers insists, “don’t change who you are, but allow you to be yourself”. Your very best self, that is.

Top and pants, Christopher John Rogers
S.Joon designer Sahar Asvandi (seated) cites dance and architecture among the influences behind her bag collection. Models wear clothing by GAUCHERE; bags, S.Joon


With bag silhouettes named after milk pails and tulips, British handbag brand S.Joon (pronounced es-jon) is elevating the everyday. What began as dancer and choreographer Sahar Asvandi’s side hustle has now become her sole focus. “I think my story is one of evolution because I don’t come from a traditional design background,” she says. “I’m quite interested in looking at shape and form and lines, and I think that comes from my dance background.”

Take her cult Tulip bag, which she was compelled to create after sketching a vase of the flowers on her kitchen counter one day. With its sculptural shape and elegant texture, it is the kind of chicly minimalist piece that will lend polish to every outfit.

With a name that is a hybrid of Asvandi’s first initial and a Persian term of endearment, meaning ‘dear’, the brand has a deeply personal touch, too. The designer, who splits her time between London and Leeds, describes her bags as “playful with a hint of classic”, and they should be worn with exactly this aesthetic in mind.

Dress, GAUCHERE; bag, S.Joon
I want women to feel beautiful and confident but, also, after they’ve dressed and looked in the mirror for the final touches, not to think about what they’re wearing anymore
Johannes Boehl Cronau (right) launched his label Ioannes in Paris after working and studying in Germany, Antwerp and London. Model wears cardigan and dress, both Ioannes
Dress, Ioannes


Growing up in the German countryside to a family of carpenters and interior designers, creativity was a birth-right for Johannes Boehl Cronau. “There was always a feeling of constant active creation in and around the house, and this melange of personal life tied together with professional life inspired me to create my brand,” says the designer of his almost-eponymous label, Ioannes (a Latinized version of Johannes).

It comes as little surprise, then, that the Parsons Paris and Central Saint Martins graduate is fastidious about fabrics and designs through a couturier’s lens. “I’m interested in the craft of creating garments – and the head, heart and hand labor that is involved in creating a product.” Thus, his ultra-stylized Japanese cherry-blossom prints on jersey mini dresses for SS20 are created using a manual, semi-artisanal technique that ensures each piece is unique.

Now based in Paris, Boehl Cronau has created his latest collection with an eclectic mix of these artfully printed pieces and playful feather-trimmed slip dresses. Espousing irreverence and intellect, they are clothes that appeal to fearless dressers who want to have a little fun with fashion – such as Ioannes fan Solange Knowles. “Ultimately, I want women to feel beautiful and confident but, also, after they’ve dressed and looked in the mirror for the final touches, not to think about what they’re wearing anymore – just to go out and enjoy the day, the night, or whatever they’re up to.”

Marie-Christine Statz (seated) focuses on volume, particularly through tailoring and pleats, at her label GAUCHERE. Models wear GAUCHERE


German-born, Paris-based designer Marie-Christine Statz cut her teeth at Narciso Rodriguez and Diane von Furstenberg before striking out on her own with GAUCHERE. Her formative years are instantly identifiable in the masculine-feminine synthesis of her silhouettes, as well as her fixation on form.

“I looked at the neo-concrete art movement which plays with abstract forms and the use of color for the SS20 collection,” explains Statz. “I especially looked at the work of Brazilian artist Lydia Clarke, who puts the body in the center of her practice.” This obsession with shape elevates her designs beyond their seemingly simplistic aesthetic – a classic blazer is meticulously sculpted at the waist, while day dresses are transformed with directional plunging necklines.

Statz seeks distinctiveness in every facet of the brand – hence her decision to call it GAUCHERE (French for left-handed). It was the nickname given to her by her professor at the École de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne, because she works with her left hand. “I did things the other way around – I want to create garments that [speak to] the individual.”


Press play

Go behind the scenes with the four designers on the set of The Vanguard shoot, as they talk about their creative influences and how they got started on their career paths