African-inspired patterns and colors and clear Henri Rousseau post-impressionistic motifs served as fantastic sources of inspiration for Tadashi Shoji, whose pre-fall 2016 collection treats us to a feminine and ethnic amalgam of delicate pieces, which seem to have been soaked deeply into any traveler’s melancholic memoires. Tadashi Shoji’s nostalgia for Africa specifically leads us to the boarders of southern Kenya and northern Tanzania, where the semi-nomadic group of the Maasai lives.
The Japanese-American designer’s pre-fall 2016 collection echoes Maasai’s beadworks and pieces of clothing, which in the Maasai culture vary according to the age and location of those who are wearing them. Shoji chose to accentuate the silhouettes with the help of multicolored African designs, coming in a bold color palette that ranges from black, blue and red to green and yellow. There are also some striped accents that clearly recall Maasai’s traditional patterns. As for the shoeline, Shoji chose to complete his outfits with some simple gladiator sandals, which are very often used by the Maasai, too.
Given the fact that body painting plays a huge role in this culture, Shoji chose to articulate the aspect of this semi-nomadic culture by alternating sheer fabrics and slim-fitted figures in some of his pieces, giving many of them the impression of a ‘second skin’ look. We could especially see it in the collection’s great amount of skintight long-sleeved shirts and sleeveless tops. As for the skirts, the designer mainly focused on flared and wide A-line cuts with majestic lines giving an impressive African goddess allure to all those dresses.
Then, to honor the archetypal naïve artist par excellence, the designer focused on jungle-inspired motifs, too. Renowned for his self-taught techniques and often derided by his contemporaries (with the sole exception of Pablo Picasso and Wassily Kandinsky), Henri Rousseau revealed ‘new possibilities of simplicity’ by focusing on lush jungle scenes that could lessen the distances between his hometown, Paris, and the wild and fascinating territories of Africa. Like Rosseau, Shoji draws clear inspiration from African tribal traditional art forms, using leaf embroideries to adorn the equally glamorous long-sleeved mini and maxi dresses. Navigating between art and fashion, the fashion designer takes these hybrid sources of inspiration to create an almost surrealistic juxtaposition of unconventional haute couture and low profile pieces, the uniqueness of which makes it possible for any woman to actually have different options to wear on special events.
Like other designers, such as Zac Posen, with his pre-fall collection Tadashi Shoji has given his inimitable contribution to a generation of fashion designers that looks up to some of the most illustrious modern artists our society has ever had, to make one-of-a-kind collections that celebrate art at 360°.
Photos courtesy of Vogue