Tokyo (AFP) – Hanae Mori, a Japanese designer known as “Madame Butterfly” for her signature motif, has passed away in Tokyo. She was 96 years old.
Over the decades, Mori’s gorgeous pieces have been worn by Nancy Reagan, Grace Kelly, and countless members of high society.
But she was also a pioneering Japanese woman and one of the few women to lead an international company.
An employee at Mori’s office said Thursday that Mori died “due to old age” at his home on August 11, and a private funeral was held.
Her groundbreaking career as a designer saw her start making film costumes in Tokyo before moving to New York and Paris, where in 1977 her brand became the first Asian fashion house to enter the haute couture world. .
Exclusive French clubs set strict standards for handcrafted and very expensive garments.
At a retrospective in Tokyo in 2006, Mori told AFP, “When humans work with their hands, their creativity expands.”
In January, the designer summarized her feelings about the industry in a special daily column for Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbun.
“Fashion is what drives you, gives you the courage to spread your wings, and lets you explore,” she said.
Encounter with Chanel
Born in the countryside of western Japan in 1926, Mori studied literature at Tokyo Women’s University before pursuing a career in design.
She opened her first atelier above a noodle shop in Tokyo, specializing in dressing silver screen stars.
As Japan’s postwar economy grew, so did the business she ran with her husband.When the advent of television made the film industry less profitable, she was encouraged to visit Paris and New York. I got
“This was kind of a turning point for me,” she once said of a trip in the early 1960s when she met Coco Chanel in Paris.
It was a moving encounter.
When she stepped into the Chanel studio, the iconic designer suggested wearing a bright orange outfit to contrast her dark hair.
Surprised, Mori thought.
According to The Washington Post, “The whole Japanese concept of beauty is based on concealment. I suddenly realized that I needed to change my approach and make women stand out in dresses,” she said. .
‘East meets West’
In 1965, Mori presented his first overseas collection in New York under the theme of “East Meets West.”
Her designs combined traditional patterns such as cranes and cherry blossoms with her trademark butterflies with Western styles, from wool suits to sharp satin tailoring.
Mori moved the brand from Tokyo to Paris in the late 1970s and was quickly embraced by fashion insiders.
She found a difference between herself and her Japanese peers who later achieved worldwide fame: Issey Miyake, Yoji Yamamoto and Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons fame.
“Young Japanese designers living in Paris are passionately avant-garde,” she told The Washington Post.
Mori has built her brand into a business empire. In its heyday, it occupied an entire Tokyo building designed by architect Kenzo Tange, but was later demolished and replaced with another structure at typical Japanese speed.
“Not everything was positive,” she recalled in her Yomiuri column, from the loss of buildings to the fashion house’s retirement from haute couture.
“It was like a butterfly had its wings ripped off. But this butterfly could fly around the world for 70 years because it loved making clothes.”
“want to change”
Mori designed the gown worn by Princess Masako (the current Empress) at her wedding in 1993, as well as the uniforms of Japan Airlines’ flight attendants.
In 1985, he created the stage costumes for “Madame Butterfly” performed at Teatro alla Scala in Milan.
But losses mounted in the early 2000s, her empire was largely sold, and she closed her Paris atelier in 2004 after her last couture show.
The Hanae Mori boutique remains open in Tokyo, and her fragrances are still sold worldwide.
As a powerful businesswoman, Mori was a rarity in Japan, where boardrooms are still male-dominated.
Speaking of her early married life, she was never once invited to join her husband’s friends.
At the time, he said, “Japan was a gentleman’s country,” but he said, “I wanted to be something different.”
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