BY: HAL RUBENSTEIN
He may not be a designer name you recognize immediately and yet Tadashi Shoji must be doing something right because his clothes are featured in over 700 stores in the United States. The reason for his stylish ubiquity is simple. Shoji’s formidable skill with draping, pleating and beading elegant stretch fabrics has allowed him to create sensual, dynamic evening wear that flatters all ages and sizes. And his timing could not have been better than when he dressed actress Octavia Spencer the night she won her Oscar for The Help, perfectly coinciding with the fashion industry’s long overdue realization that every woman has the right to feel and look beautiful. And with a roster as diverse as Demi Lovato, Helen Mirren, Drew Barrymore, Kate Hudson, Janelle Monae, Carrie Underwood and Michelle Obama, it appears many agree that Tadashi Shoji is the man who can make that happen.
INTERVIEW WITH TADASHI SHOJI
HR: Where do you find inspiration most often for each collection?
TS: I love to travel. I find it a wonderful way to gain perspective and find inspiration. I’m particularly drawn to ancient cultures. What I find most fascinating about them is their forgotten splendor and the opportunity to explore their hidden mysteries, their architecture and belief systems. Travel provides endless inspiration, because I can incorporate the beauty of that splendor in my designs.
HR: Do you design with a specific image or kind of woman when you create a collection?
TS: I create my designs around the philosophy that clothes must make women feel beautiful and confident. Gabriel & Co. creates jewelry in much the same way with the belief that comfort creates confidence and is the source of each woman’s beauty. Comfort is necessary too, which is why I use a lot of fabrics that have movement. No one feels confident when they’re hampered by tight-fitting, restrictive clothes. If a woman wears my dress, and the styling flatters her and it fits her comfortably, her confidence emerges.
I create my designs around the philosophy that clothes must make women feel beautiful and confident.Gabriel & Co. creates jewelry in much the same way with the belief that comfort creates confidence and is the source of each woman’s beauty.
- Tadashi Shoji
HR: How does a woman figure out what styles and clothes work best for her?
TS: Number one is fit. If they don’t fit well, nothing else matters. Wear pieces that complement your shape. Pay attention to flattering necklines. If you want to create a waistline, look for styles that appear to narrow the waist by gliding the eye inward. It’s about playing with illusion and keeping everything in proportion.
HR: Is it more difficult dressing stars for the red carpet, or do all women rate the same kind of attention?
TS: I never kiss and tell. *wink* It’s always an honor to dress celebrities but I feel that about anyone who chooses to wear my dresses. The same commitment to fit, style, and quality go into all the clothes we make.
HR: How do you see jewelry enhancing your designs? What kind of pieces do you favor?
TS: I always like to keep the accessories sleek and simple because I often mix bold color with intricate texture and draping and I don’t want women to look overpowered by their wardrobe, Southeast Asia inspired some of the clothes you photographed. Silhouettes ranged from architectural to figure-skimming, so for them I prefer sparkling drop or hoop earrings and delicate pave diamond chokers or ropes to complement the clothes.