Red-carpet designer Tadashi Shoji has opened a store in King of Prussia — right in time for the season of holiday parties and charity balls.
Shoji, a Japanese American designer who lives and works in Los Angeles, is best known for helping curvy red-carpet divas rack up fashion accolades. His dresses have made actress Octavia Spencer look like a goddess, helped former first lady Michelle Obama turn heads at state dinners, and turned Kate Hudson's run-of-the-mill appearance on The Ellen Show last year into a much-talked-about style event.
Shoji started his fashion label in 1982, so now, at 69, he knows a thing or two about the biz. I recently chatted with Shoji about beauty, diversity, and his East Coast retail expansion to the airy 2,500-square-foot King of Prussa boutique.
When I was a kid, I was an outsider, so I've never been an elitist. I just don't like that kind of stuff. Many designers just want to cater to rich people. I want to dress women. And to do that, you have to fit women of every shape and every height. I believe that every woman is entitled to a beautiful, comfortable evening dress.
I didn't make it to the prestigious art school in Tokyo, so I worked with an artist while I was young in Japan for a while. When I came to California, I ended up in junior college, where I enrolled in the fashion department. I took a job with Bill Whitten [the late costume designer responsible for Michael Jackson's white glove] and worked with him when he designed for the Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder, and Earth, Wind and Fire. I was his assistant for three years.
Everything I do creates the visual allusion that a woman is shaped like an hourglass. That's the trick. So if the sweetheart neckline gives them the hourglass illusion, we use it. The same with ruching or a hemline.
Our product in Neiman Marcus and Lord & Taylor at the mall were among our top-performing stores in the country. Those stores did such a great job for us we were encouraged to show our entire collection. It was such a great opportunity.
We are still seeing jumpsuits. Lots of dresses with sparkle. Dark green is a good color. Yellow was hot last season on the red carpet, and it will be hot this season.