The story Tadashi Shoji made up in his head for his fall 2013 collection went something like this: “Royal princesses escaping from Russia, disguising themselves as farmers in peasant clothes. They’re running through snow fields, trying to get away.” If it sounds like something out of the Romanov empire, that’s because it is: Since he was 18, Shoji has been fascinated with Russian stories, devouring Dostoyevsky books and tales about the turbulent, yet gilded time in Russia’s history. True to his tale, his princess’s royal wardrobe begins as rich and refined, with jewel-toned lace and chiffon Watteau back dresses, fit for flouncing around royal palace hallways. As she goes into “disguise,” her clothes evidence an attempt to blend in, with peasant details like embroidered folkloric detailing and blouson sleeves mixed in amid the opulence of washed velvet and satin piping. But you can’t keep a princess down for long—after being in royal exile for perhaps only five to six looks, his princess emerges in triumph, spending the rest of her time in red carpet-worthy gowns.
It’s here that Tadashi played to his signature, creating elegant, detail-laden looks that had his show attendees nodding, “I would wear that.” His princess came out on top with gowns tiered in guipure lace, using neoprene as a surprisingly modern choice of material. And when she gets cold, remembering that brief stint in peasant times? Tadashi created organza and lace capelets in a snowy palette of muted grays and soft pinks to throw over her shoulders.