Debriefing on the designer behind Michelle Obama's gorg purple dress
Ever since Michelle Obama became the First Lady of the United States, the world has had its eyes on every outfit she’s been photographed in. While the inspiring and powerful political work of FLOTUS should never be overlooked, we’ve also gotta give her props for her amazing fashion sense. She’s not afraid to take measured risks, and her sartorial decisions have launched the careers of countless young designers. (Jason Wu, anyone?!)
So when the First Lady attended a State Dinner Tuesday with the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife, Akie, we had to know exactly who was behind her gorgeous tulle dress. The floor-length, eggplant-hued gown was the work of Japanese designer Tadashi Shoji.
In a funny way, the dresses FLOTUS wears are actually highly political. On a recent trip to Asia to chat about girls’ education, the New York Times praised her youthful dress decision (rather than stoic business attire) which, writer Vanessa Friedman suggested made her more relatable to the girls she was talking to. She’s also taken heat for wearing non-American designers, as well as for sporting dresses that cost too much money. In short: Her sartorial choices really matter. Which is why Tuesday night’s Shoji look was such a win.
Shoji was born in Japan — which made him an excellent choice for a state dinner with the Japanese Prime Minister and his wife — and then moved to L.A. in the ‘70s. He attended L.A. Trade-Tech, where he studied fashion design. After apprenticing for costume designer Bill Whitten and designing for a clothing manufacturer, he launched his own label in 1982. Shoji eventually became known for his extravagant, red carpet-ready gowns, finding fans in Dita Von Teese, Beyoncé, Katy Perry, and Selena Gomez.
Shoji was actually chosen to dress Michelle Obama for two additional recent events. Along with the purple gown, she wore a floral lace dress from Shoji’s Spring 2015 collection to an appearance at Great Falls Elementary School.
She also wore a black and white Shoji number earlier this month on the Tonight Show.
Congrats to Tadashi Shoji for getting his designs worn by the stylish FLOTUS and cheers to Michelle Obama for always supporting lesser-known designers and bringing them into the spotlight!