how her humble beginnings in fashion turned into haute couture brilliance

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how her humble beginnings in fashion turned into haute couture brilliance

Hanae Mori, a Japanese couturier, has died at the age of 96.

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The designer died at her Tokyo residence. Her representative announced the news on Thursday.

Her keen eye to fashion revolutionized global fashion for decades. She was also admired by the wealthy, famous, and global leaders. She was also the first Asian woman admitted to the prestigious Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture.

Here, The NationalLook back at her stellar career in the industry.

A war-stricken childhood

Born Hanae Fujii on January 8, 1926, in the Shimane Prefecture in south-west Japan, Mori married in 1947, the same year she graduated from Tokyo Woman’s Christian University with a bachelor’s degree in literature.

At 15 years old, the Second World War arrived in Pacific. She witnessed the destruction and devastation of her country. She spent the war in factories, as did many other women.

In 1951, Tokyo underwent a major rebuilding process after heavy bombings. Mori established an atelier in Shinjuku. She made clothes for Japanese cinemas and the wives of American soldiers. Over the next decade, Mori would create looks for hundreds of films, including Yasujiro Ozu’s Early Autumn and Yoshishige Yoshida’s Farewell to Summer Light.

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Mori was inspired by a trip to Chanel’s boutique in Paris in 1960 and envisioned a career in couture. Mori saw that women are almost invisible in Japanese society and realized she could use her feminine talents to create clothes for them.

Design is about success.

Her creations were admired for their beauty and became a huge hit in Japan. In 1975, she was able to show her creations in New York. At the Park Avenue Hotel, she held an East Meets West fashion show. It was a great success and her designs were purchased by Princess Grace of Monaco, Princess Masako of Japan and Nancy Reagan.

Mori won many awards for her ability to create western-style clothes that were Japanese-inspired. In 1977, her attentions to detail, construction and technique led to her being invited to the prestigious Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture. This made her the first Japanese designer to join.

She was able to join powerhouse brands like Chanel, Givenchy and Versace at the Paris shows. Her first couture collection, which featured a parade gowns embellished in traditional Japanese motifs, such as calligraphy, butterflies, and cherry blossoms, dazzled the crowd.

A dress from Mori's spring/summer collection in 1978. AP

Conversely, much of Mori’s success has been down to the innate conservatism of her clothes, unlike other Japanese designers such as Kenzo Takada, Issey Miyake (who also died earlier this month) and Rei Kawakubo, who all won fame for their avant-garde approach.

The result was a combination of western codes and Japanese sensibilities. The clothes were elegant, beautiful, but not as elegant as the original. Vogue The magazine pointed out that “for women who wanted to make an entrance”. Instead, Mori’s gift was dressing women who preferred to savour the quiet delight of a silk cocktail dress finished with an obi, a dress printed with soft clouds and petals, or a diaphanous chiffon gown in subtle colours.

Mori diversified her offerings in the 1970s by adding daywear, workwear, and lines for children and adults. Perfume and traditional lacquerware followed quickly.

Mori was a success story in Japan by 1980. The Times Reporting “the name Hanae Mori has become synonymous with Japan in women’s clothing, like Toyota in automobiles, Sony in tape recorders and Nikon in cameras”. She made close to $100 million in sales that year.

Francois Mitterrand, the French president, awarded Mori the Legion of Honour in 1989 for her services to haute couture.

Stay away from fashion

Mori also designed uniforms for Japan Airlines, as well as a version Giacomo Puccini’s opera. Madame Butterfly in Milan, Italy, in 1985. Over the next two years, she designed the outfits for Rudolf Nureyev’s Paris and New York opera ballet shows of Cinderella. Mori also designed the looks. Elektra 1996 Salzburg Music Festival

However, haute couture sales dropped significantly in the 1990s due to the slumping world economy. Customers began to abandon $9,000 day suits and $26,000 evening wear. Mori was forced, like many couture houses in this period to close her atelier.

Mori at the end of her autumn/winter haute couture show in Paris in 2004. AFP

But she kept working. She designed the uniform for Japan’s 1992 Olympic team in Barcelona, and then the uniforms for the Lillehammer Winter Olympics in Norway two years later.

She officially retired after more than 50 years in the industry and held a Paris farewell show in 2004.

“A cascade of applause greeted Hanae Mori as the audience rose to its feet to salute the great Japanese couturier’s final Paris show,” The International Herald Tribune It was reported at the same time. “Visibly overwhelmed, the designer was surrounded by models wearing the finale dresses exquisitely embroidered with butterflies — the symbol of the house.”

Scroll through the gallery to see other famous people who have died since 2022.

Updated: August 18, 20,22, 2:42 pm

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