09/05/2013 05:16 EDT | Updated 11/05/2013 05:12 EST

Fashion's Tadashi Shoji says he's confident enough to be called 'pretty' - and women are, too

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Edgy and raw is OK for someone else, but designer Tadashi Shoji says he's happy to have his clothes called pretty, sweet and ladylike, among other flowery terms.

He staged a parade of pastel dresses dotted with lace, embroidery and feathers at New York Fashion Week on Thursday. He titled his spring collection "Sweet Liberation."

"I think we need more sweetness and fun in this world. Femininity and sweetness? I am not afraid to be sweet, and women are confident enough now and know they can be taken seriously even if they wear pretty clothes," Shoji said in an interview after his catwalk preview at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at Lincoln Center.

He purposely dressed in the same spirit: pink trousers, mint-green shirt and a purple sweater.

Shoji also showed that he was embracing a more hourglass, curvaceous silhouette for his consumer: The first look was a light jade-colored, neoprene strapless dress with a full skirt and a tulle cropped top over it for a capelet effect.

He turned out A-line tops, peplums around the hips and tiered skirts, too. The feather fringe seemed to be done in the same spirit, but it seemed a greater leap for life beyond the runway.

Shoji specializes in cocktail frocks and evening gowns, but some of his daytime dresses were worth a second look, especially a white lace shift with a blush-colored lining that was fresh and delicate, and a pink dress with a square neckline made of scalloped tulle that looked like little fans.

Bella Thorne, best known as a Disney Channel starlet, said she was paying careful attention from her front-row seat.

"This whole thing is new to me — Tadashi and fashion week itself. Being here is a little homework for me. I want to design a line someday."


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