A trip to St. Petersburg, Russia, was the starting point for Tadashi Shoji's Fall 2013 collection. "It was cold!" said the designer of his time spent there. But it was also intriguing enough to get him thinking about Russia from all cultural angles: books, religion, history, film. And, of course, fashion.

Voluminous backs on several dresses and tops were inspired by the robes of Russian Orthodox priests, but were fitted at the bodice to give the wearer more of a shape. There were also straightforward peasant dresses, inspired by what Russian royalty might have worn when escaping to Siberia during the 1917 revolution. We could take or leave these traditional styles—they were pretty, but there's nothing more to say. Conversely, the washed-velvet gowns that followed were regal and subtle—especially the dusty navy dress, given a bit of Edwardian appeal with a high neck and "czarina" sleeves.

Shoji is best known for his formal wear, and there were plenty of red-carpet and ballroom-appropriate options, many done in long sleeves. For the first time, the designer experimented with material-of-the-moment neoprene. Mostly with good results. A black cap-sleeve gown overlaid with navy lace worked. A pink version with black metallic lace overlay didn't, but that had more to do with the color choice than the fabric. The finale really made the day. A creamy white neoprene gown overlaid with navy metallic lace and topped off with a capelet in the same style was truly fit for a Russian princess.