Tadashi Shoji Designer Spotlight

Tadashi Shoji

Since launching his namesake brand in 1982, Japanese-born designer Tadashi Shoji has crafted celebratory styles that strike the perfect balance between grace and defiance. Crafted from luxurious fabrics, his bridal gowns combine ease and elegance with a flawless fit. His distinctive eveningwear has garnered a high-profile following, worn by notable figures including Michelle Obama, Helen Mirren, and Octavia Spencer. Read on for our conversation about his roots in modern art and perspective on bridal style.

“Fashion is like creating sculptures for the body.”

— Tadashi Shoji

Our Q&A With Tadashi

Q: How did Tadashi Shoji get started?

A: Purely by accident! I dreamt of becoming an artist in New York, so I applied to an art school in Tokyo—but I failed after the second attempt. One day, when visiting a gallery, the owner approached me and asked about my plans. After telling her that I flunked art school and was looking for a job, she asked about my favorite artists. I named Jiro Takamatsu, along with other avant-garde Japanese artists. She told me Jiro Takamatsu was looking for an assistant and quickly gave me his phone number; I called immediately after leaving the gallery and he told me to come to the studio at that moment! He hired me right after the interview and I started working that night.

During my three years working there, I realized that I couldn’t survive in the art world. So, I started working every job in Japan—ranging from merchant ships to nurse in a mental hospital. Eventually, a friend convinced me to come to the United States. I found myself in southern California, studying fashion design at Los Angeles Trade Technical College. There, I realized that fashion is like creating sculptures for the body.

Q: What inspires your designs?

A: The richness of historical cultures.

Q: What are some hallmarks of Tadashi Shoji designs?

A: The most important hallmark of my designs is the fit. A good fit allows the wearer to feel confident, elegant, and comfortable on their special day.

Q: How would you describe the Tadashi Shoji bride?

A: Effortless elegance.

Q: What is your favorite decade of fashion?

A: My favorite decade of fashion is the 1920s, because women said goodbye to their corsets and became more effortless.

Q: What is your favorite historic wedding gown?

A: Wallis Simpson’s gown for her wedding to Edward VIII.

Q: Do you have any advice for brides who are in the process of defining their wedding style?

A: Size is just a number. Make sure your dress fits with ease and isn’t too tight. An uncomfortable dress can make a nervous bride even more uneasy.

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