"I dress for the image. Not for myself, not for the public, not for fashion, not for men," uttered Marlene Dietrich, the inspiration for Tadashi Shoji's Fall 2012 Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week show in New York on Thursday.
And image was solely the focus for Shoji; With luxurious fabrics of lace, chiffon, silk and lightweight velvet, Shoji captured the beauty of the golden age of Shanghai with his Fall collection of dresses inspired by Dietrich in Shanghai Express.
As Nancy Sinatra's You Only Live Twice played cooly in the background, revelers wished that they could live through Shoji's show itself twice, because that's just how much a blast from the past it was.
According to the designer, the collection not only was based on the Golden Age of Shaghai, which was ridden with problems from darker times, but juxtaposed as a vision of present day; As the world shifts gears and moves forward with an thirst for effervescence to achieve prosperity amidst an economic slump, Shoji's Fall collection took us to a time when optimism was achieved through classic beauty.
Tadashi Shoji told the International Business Times that while he usually is inspired by tangible things, like flowers or architecture, for his eponymous collection established in 1982, reading about Shanghai, where he lived on and off for a good portion of his life, inspired his Fall collection.
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"Usually I do architecture or, like, flower, or garden, those kind of stuff in maybe the past two years I was inspired, but this time is more, I think, like reading books. That's intrigued me," he said. "When I was reading and I was watching the movie and something is that kind of mysterious was the period that was in Shanghai."
Tadashi, captivated by a dark undercurrent feeling in the books he was reading, had a thirst to learn more about the era that caught his interest, prompting him to incorporate that mood into his Fall 2012 line. So he immersed himself in the mysterious period of Shanghai and stumbled upon Marlene Dietrich in Shanghai Express.
"So it's starting from reading more books and then watching movies and then collecting all the pictures and then its becoming this kind of very gorgeous upfront and its kinda, kinda dark undercurrent feeling of moody feeling of dresses coming," he said, as he smiled looking at his entire collection hanging on the racks backstage, waiting to be presented.
With the perfect backdrop of lace on the typically white walls, models covered in jewel tones like marina and sea grass, complemented with neutrals like ginseng and hazel absolutely wowed the audience with drop waist dresses and endless gowns, making Shoji's collection red carpet ready to dress the stars. One piece in particular -- a black Chantilly lace high neck gown with a Venetian lace bodice front and cap sleeves --captured the full house of onlookers, as one could hear almost a synchronization in the gasping, ooing and awing, a sure pick for A-list clients looking for red carpet options. In fact, Shoji has dressed celebrities from Helen Mirren to Blake Lively and hopes to do so in the near future, like the 2012 Oscars which he kept quite a secret.
"Oh jinx, if I name them I think that they, before, they may not wear, so I cannot say. Just cross afinger. Surprise, surprise, surprise!" Shoji said backstage.
Shoji was not the only person with his fingers crossed; Rodney Cutler for Cutler/Redken styled the models' hair for the event, using a simple loop to complement the red pouts on the models.
Cutler said he has "decided on a roll with a strong part, pulled to one side rather than a chignon or a bun," which he believes has been overplayed this season, and plans to just to sort of confuse everyone with a slight tweak to a classic style.
So when there are 33 pieces in a collection, all of which it's simply impossible to keep your jaw from hitting the floor, how does a hair stylist harmonize with a collection? According to Cutler, it's all about keeping it simple.
"When you have a lot of red lip and a lot of clothes, the hair needs to play it down," he said backstage while working on a blonde model. "I'm going to keep the hair really simple, otherwise its going to be way too busy."
And there was nothing busy about this show. The gowns and dresses hug women in all the right places without being too revealing, as many had cap, flutter and long sleeves. Necklines were just as sophisticated and elegant, ranging from high neck, to cowl neck, to completely strapless. High necks and cap sleeves were accompanied by an occasional open, lace or embellished back was present in a handful of pieces.
Head over to IBTimes TV to catch a glimpse of an exclusive interview with Tadashi Shoji moments before the unveiling of his Fall 2012 collection at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York from Lincoln Center.