Q&A: Tadashi Shoji's Design Secrets

| May 9, 2013 | Homepage Latest The Latest

Known for his elegant eveningwear and red carpet dresses, Tadashi Shoji is now celebrating his third decade in the industry. With women of all body types able to look amazing in his designs—his draping is spectacular and sizes range from 0 to 24 Queen—the Japanese-born designer is internationally recognized. So we were glad to get his thoughts on style when he recently visited the Washington area to receive Marymount University’s Designer of the Year award, and to visit Neiman Marcus at Tysons Galleria, where many of his flattering frocks are sold.

Shoji explains that his travels and art inspire him and hopes that “women exude confidence and feel beautiful in my designs.” Mission accomplished. Now read on as he reveals why his designs fit so well, and which anniversary collection piece is his favorite.

Congratulations on your anniversary! How has your brand changed over the years and how has it remained the same?
TADASHI SHOJI: Thank you! We have changed in size—increased both in the amount of employees as well as workspace—[and] the collections as a whole get bigger each season. …We recently launched an e-commerce site, and we have two retail stores in the states and have recently opened two retail stores in China…[but] we have stayed the same over the past 30 years because of our product and staying true to my design vision. I have always made my dresses accessible to everyone and put comfort and fit first when designing. The secret is in jersey fabric, Lycra, or soft chiffon. Everything I design is meant to stretch and move with the body and women almost have a “t-shirt feeling” when they wear my dresses.

Your new site lets women shop by body shape, such as “apple” or “pear.” Why?
TS: I design for all sizes and all shapes. My customer knows that she can come to our e-commerce site and find something perfect for her body and for any occasion. I like giving my customer a customized fit experience so that it makes them feel like it was made just for them.

Your spring collection includes beautiful lace dresses, and your 30th anniversary collection features six iconic frocks in shades of blue, ivory, black, and red. What’s your favorite anniversary piece?
TS: The blue lagoon V-neck gown because it has all the elements of a signature Tadashi Shoji look: the tiers, which I became known for; the flattering deep V-neck bodice; and comfortable, yet glamorous, stretch satin fabric. This piece is beautiful on its own yet can take on new looks with accessories. Our 30th anniversary brand ambassador, Chriselle Lim, paired hers with emerald and diamond jewelry and an emerald faux fur stole which looked fabulous and unexpected.

How did you become involved with Marymount University? What does this new award mean to you?
TS: I am an advocate of education and young talent so when the opportunity was presented, I was thrilled to participate. This award is a true honor, and I am privileged to be in such great company with the past honorees.

And, since we’re talking about the DC area, what’s your recommended evening look for Washington’s well-dressed women?
TS: I prefer the classic sheath dress because it looks good on all ages and sizes. It is sophisticated and easy to wear, and our stretch lining helps keep you comfortable from day to evening.

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