Tadashi Shoji is unique among designers for many reasons, not the least of which is his passion for designing for the part of the world right around him: Southern California. The official designer for the Tournament of Roses Royal Court, Tadashi may take inspiration from far off places (Moorish nights this season), but the application is 100% California.

This focus on his home territory manifests itself in a couple of ways. First, while the majority of designers will go with longer lengths on dresses for the fall/winter season, Tadashi goes short. This season, he even has a micromini dress in his collection. One has to admit, there aren’t too many places in the Northern hemisphere where that look works in the middle of Januarty, but Southern California is one of them.

Second, there are no bulky coats layered over his very sexy, very feminine styles. Not a one. Instead, Tadashi is the first designer this season (there will be plenty of others) to come at us with a line of absolutely wonderful evening gowns. Where do people wear sparkly evening gowns made of chiffon and tulle in the middle of winter? Southern California.

Red is the 66-year-old designer’s favorite color. He was wearing scarlet pants backstage today, and the first piece down the runway was, predictably, bright red. Tadashi says that red makes him happy and I’m pretty sure that anyone who might put on one of these laser-cut leather pieces is likely to be pretty happy as well. These dresses in a rainbow of just-off primary colours are made of softest suede and frequently lined with satin of a contrasting color. The first piece to elicit gasps was a black dress backed with gold and a built-in cape. Don’t bother asking if you would look good in this dress. The answer is yes, yes you would.

While the short dresses might be a bit chilly for those of us enduring temperatures just barely above zero, the wonderful array of gowns immediately cause us to yearn for a reason, any reason, to wear these beautiful dresses of lace and tulle and velvet and silk. The detail and beading are perfect, never over the top, but just enough to give the dresses the slight accent they need. These are gowns designed for the most feminine of souls, those who enjoy being women and aren’t afraid to show it.

Perhaps that’s why Alyssa Milano was sitting on the front row taking in every look. Don’t be surprised to see her wearing one of these pieces on a red carpet next year.

If you’re lucky, perhaps you’ll be wearing one as well.

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