Fashion Q&A: Jackie Rogers


Jackie Rogers is fashion royalty. Starting her career as a model for Chanel and working with the legendary Coco, Jackie began her design career in men's fashion. She was discovered by the fabulous (and Political Style favorite,) Lee Radiziwill, a move which propelled her to stardom.

I spoke to Rogers about her time as designer, what inspires her in the creative process and who she'd love to dress.

How did you become interested in fashion?

I grew up with it because my mother was a hat designer who had a store in Boston. I started hanging out there when I was 12. I then went on to become a model for some of the best designers in the United States, and I found out I was always telling them what to do because they were fitting the clothes on me, like Bill Blass and Oscar de la Renta and people like that. So, I had a big background before I became an actual designer.  My inspiration and training comes from the one and only, Coco Chanel, whom I worked with and modeled for while living in Paris.  I started my design career in men’s fashion with a client base including some of Hollywood’s leading men like Peter O’Toole, Jack Nicholson, Michael Douglas and Woody Allen. Soon after I was discovered by Lee Radziwill and Jackie Onassis, which propelled me into womenswear.

What inspires the design process behind your creations?

What influences me is line and form. I don’t actually say “Oh, I’m going to design like this.” I drape and do not sketch. Even now, going forward into the Fall collection, which I’m going to show in September, I’m going forward with what I did in the Spring so there's a natural progression.  I had a friend who was a fashion editor at Vogue and I remember her saying to me, “You know Jackie, your last collection is in your next collection,” and she’s right. So, you have to bring it forward. I don’t know what other designers do because I really don’t look at what they do. Chanel was of course a big influence on me because I went to work with her as a model in the beginning of the 60s. The first day I came there, she invited me to lunch and I thought that was the way it went, but that was not the way it was; I was just very fortunate. It was a fabulous time.

Which notable individuals, including politicians have you dressed? 

What put me in business as a womenswear designer was Jackie Onassis because she came in with her sister Lee who found me on Madison Avenue and they flipped out over my clothes, and that started it. Lee made the cover of Women’s Wear Daily wearing one of my blouses and that’s how it all went together. In those days, there was a great woman called Babe Paley who was a fashion icon. She made designers, and Babe was one of my first customers also. Over the years, Condoleezza Rice has worn my clothes in addition to celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, Diana Ross, Christine Baranski, Julianne Moore, Roberta Flack and Gwyneth Paltrow to name a few.

What do you think are the key elements to a stylish look for a politician? 

Each candidate should be wearing custom-made tailored clothing so that the younger generations can identify with them.

What is your opinion on the fashion choices of the current Presidential candidates and their spouses? 

I’m very disappointed in Hillary who isn't dressing to appeal to the masses.  The men don't have a ton of room to showcase their fashion sense other than through their ties which usually coincide in color with the party they're in.  To be honest I think the Obama's set the bar high. They’re modern and Michelle is very avant garde. I think she dresses beautifully.

Who would you love to dress?

I would love to dress Nicole Kidman or Christina Ricci who have very unique fashion styles. I’ve dressed many leading ladies over the past few decades including Lee Radziwill, Jackie Onassis, Patti LuPone, Selma Hayek, Courtney Love, and more.

What are your plans for the future of your business?

I’d like to get into mass production frankly. We’re making jersey dresses now. We’re going to try to bring the prices way down. We’re selling them out of our window but they’re not inexpensive, and we hope to get them where they will be at a price where everyone can afford to buy them.

All images Jackie Rogers

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