story by Lisa-Maria Radano
photos by udor
To a group of us after his frothy Spring 2014 show, Tadashi Shoji said in lieu of his theme: “It doesn’t take big shoulder pads and dark pant suits for a woman to be strong.” Known for his feminine party clothes, Mr. Shoji’s current regard for power dressing was not necessarily indicated by either his track record, or what had just gently glided by on the runway. On closer inspection of the impeccably crafted dresses and gowns, I started to see just what sort of strength Mr. Shoji championed and how it was achieved.
Against a palette of black and ivory embroidered tulle lattice print, shot with an occasional band of lavender or blush, Mr. Shoji positioned and layered re-embroidered and beaded lace, sequins, and glittering crystals. Though a scallop or grid was intermittent, that lattice whether straight up and down, or tilted at an angle, was a through line. Lest this inventory of embellishments seems convoluted, trust the result was a delicate concentration that proffered depth and gave a quiet suggestion of the above referenced might.
The gossamer complexity in both texture and color delivered also a shot of modernity to Mr. Shoji’s usually proper mien. The layered lace and crystal beading sculpted an edge into the classic sheaths, and shielded drafty bits where chimerical nudity sought to play peak-a-boo. Much as hems and bodices rippled and flirted with flesh, make no mistake, everything stayed put as Mr. Shoji’s skill with construction and proportion prevailed in his use of mostly fitted or fit and flare shapes. He did play with a tulip structure using neoprene, tossed in a few peplums and one cute tap pant with billowy lace tee. These fashionable traces noted, the story of the day was to be found in the depth that came of layering all those beautifully worked fabrics, resulting in a richness of texture and an evolution of pastel. Pale blue became river blue. Pale green became jade. Pale yellow became cold butter.
Mr. Shoji finished the show with a passage of mermaid-skin sequined looks punctuated by fringed hems. Perhaps the most striking gowns of all where those that bathed short skirted legs in a cascade of second skirting, made of embroidered tulle shot with jewels.
Does any of this sound to you like power dressing? What exactly is strength for Tadashi Shoji? Think of a deceptively gossamer spider web scattered with crystals of morning dew. It may look fragile, but you would be wise not to mess around with it.