“SHE signed it for me — she is so cute! So sweet!” the designer Tadashi Shoji gushed as he lovingly clutched a piece of paper to his chest. On it was the original sketch he had made of the gown that the actress Octavia Spencer had worn to the Academy Awards in February. Next to the drawing of the gown, an elaborately draped white sheath covered in sparkly beads, Ms. Spencer had signed her name, along with the words: “Love you!”
Ms. Spencer would go on to take home an Oscar for her supporting role in “The Help.” But even if she hadn’t, her dress would have been a winner on Hollywood’s biggest night, landing her on many a best-dressed list. In addition to its feminine elegance, the garment was praised for the way it transformed Ms. Spencer’s voluptuous curves into more slimming contours.
“She’s not a thin-thin girl, so I had to give the illusion of her as tall and thin,” said Mr. Shoji, 64.
The diminutive Japanese designer, whose close-cropped hair is speckled with gray, was at his studio near downtown Los Angeles, sitting in a Zen-like showroom that was minimally decorated with an orchid and Japanese art. The only blast of color was Mr. Shoji himself, who was wearing a cobalt blue cardigan and a pink polo shirt buttoned up to his neck.
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