For more than 30 years, Tadashi Shoji has crafted impeccable and elegant garments for women. Born in Sendai, Japan, Shoji apprenticed under artist Jiro Takamatsu, then costume designer Bill Whitten, before debuting his own, Los Angeles-based design studio in 1982. These days, his designs are red carpet fixtures, worn by Dita Von Teese, Octavia Spencer and Shakira, and his runways have become a reliable highlight of New York Fashion Week. Shoji is the rare designer who can break outside the mold of high fashion to dress all body types, his signature collection even being offered in plus sizes. For his Fall 2012 collection, working with stylist Tina Chai, Shoji conjured the golden age of Shanghai. The tangible result was both pretty and sophisticated, featuring high necklines, dropped waists and lace embellishments.

Domestically, Tadashi Shoji and Tadashi collections are available at retailers such as Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue and Macy’s. The designer also maintains flagship stores in Las Vegas and Costa Mesa, CA. An Asian expansion is next in the works, including flagships in Beijing and Shanghai. www.tadashishoji.com

Can you explain how your design aesthetic has changed or evolved over your career?
My philosophy has changed more than my aesthetic. My attention to the consumer’s comfort level has changed, but my desire to make women look beautiful has never changed or compromised.

Who is your target woman? Do you design for a specific woman?
A self-confident woman from 17 to 70 years old.

Which designers, both current and historic, most inspire you?
Madeleine Vionnet has been and will always be an inspirational designer. Alber Elbaz from Lanvin is a current designer who inspires me.

What would your junior designers say about you as a boss?
He is more than a designer, but an instructor eager to teach.

What is your strength as a designer? What is your weakness as a designer?
My strength is the ability to drape and make patterns for my own design, but I am a perfectionist and tend to overanalyze.

What is the most common mistake made by young designers or young companies?
They take 15 minutes of fame too seriously.

What advice would you give to aspiring designers?
Don’t limit your interests to just fashion. Fashion comes from all aspects of life.

strong>What’s your general view on hemline length?
Fashion is always evolving and so are hemlines. Do not limit yourself to one length. Look for tea-length hemlines this upcoming season.

Do you have a favorite dress or collection from your archive? Why or why not?
When I first started designing, I made a collection called “Kaze” which means wind in Japanese. The collection consisted of several versatile garments worn in many different ways.

What gives you the most creative satisfaction?
Implementing my sketches to actual dresses and seeing them come to life.

Text by Michael Cohen