how her humble beginnings in fashion turned into a high fashion genius

how her humble beginnings in fashion turned into a high fashion genius

how her humble beginnings in fashion turned into a high fashion genius

Hanae Mori, the Japanese seamstress who pioneered the East-West style, has died aged 96.

The designer died at her home in Tokyo; no cause of death was revealed by his representative, who announced the news on Thursday.

Her keen sense of fashion revolutionized global styles for decades and counted the rich, famous and world leaders among her admirers. She also became the first Asian woman to be admitted to the respected Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture.

Here, The National looks back on his brilliant career in the industry.

A childhood ravaged by war

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

At just 15 years old, when the Second World War arrives in the Pacific, she witnesses the destruction of her country. Like many women, she spent the war working in factories.

While Tokyo was undergoing a complete reconstruction following numerous bombings, Mori opened a workshop in the Shinjuku district in 1951. There she made clothes for Japanese cinema and the wives of American soldiers. Over the next decade, Mori would create looks for hundreds of movies, including Yasujiro Ozu’s. early fall and Yoshishige Yoshida Farewell to summer light.

Following a trip to the Chanel boutique in Paris in 1960, Mori envisioned a secular future in couture. With women rendered virtually invisible in mainstream Japanese society, Mori realized she could play into this stereotype by creating clothing that was deeply feminine.

Mori, left, with a model wearing an outfit from the designer's 1977 collection in Paris.  AFP

Success is part of the design

Understatedly beautiful, her designs became a huge hit with Japanese society, and in 1975 she felt confident enough to present her designs in New York for the first time. She hosted an East Meets West fashion show at the Park Avenue Hotel. It was a smash hit and his designs have been taken up by the likes of Crown Princess Masako of Japan, Princess Grace of Monaco, Lady Bird Johnson, Nancy Reagan, Hillary Clinton and Sophia Loren.

With an eye for creating Western-style clothing infused with Japanese motifs, Mori has drawn plenty of applause for her style. In 1977, her attention to detail, construction and technique earned her an invitation to the revered Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, making her the first Japanese designer to join.

There she joined leading brands such as Christian Dior, Chanel, Givenchy, Armani, Versace and Valentino at the Paris fashion shows. Her first couture collection dazzled crowds, like a parade of dresses embellished with traditional Japanese motifs like cherry blossoms, calligraphy and butterflies, which would become her signature.

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

Conversely, much of Mori’s success is due to the innate conservatism of his clothes, unlike other Japanese designers such as Kenzo Takada, Issey Miyake (also deceased earlier this month) and Rei Kawakubo, who all known for their avant-garde approach. .

Blending Western codes with Japanese sensibilities, the resulting garments were elegant and beautiful, but not, like vogue emphasizes the magazine, “for women who want to make their entrance”. Instead, Mori’s gift was to dress women who preferred to savor the quiet delight of a silk cocktail dress finished with an obi, a dress printed with clouds and soft petals, or a dress in sheer chiffon in subtle colors.

During the 1970s, Mori expanded its offering by adding daywear and workwear, as well as men’s and children’s lines. Fragrances follow quickly, as do homewares and traditional hairsprays.

In 1980, Mori was considered one of Japan’s many success stories, with The temperature reporting that “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”. That year alone, she racked up nearly $100 million in sales.

In 1989, French President François Mitterrand awarded Mori the Legion of Honor, the country’s highest honor, for his services to haute couture.

far from fashion

Mori also created uniforms for Japan Airlines and a version of Giacomo Puccini’s opera. Lady Butterfly in Milan, Italy in 1985. Over the next two years, she designed the outfits for Rudolf Nureyev’s opera ballet performances in Paris and New York from Cinderella. Mori also created the looks for Electra at the Salzburg Music Festival in 1996.

In the 1990s, however, as the global economy collapsed, haute couture sales also plummeted. Customers began turning away from $9,000 daytime suits and $26,000 evening dresses. Like many fashion houses at that time, Mori was forced to close her workshop.

Mori at the end of his fall/winter haute couture show in Paris in 2004. AFP

However, she continued to work. She created the uniform for the Japanese team at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992, followed by the uniforms for the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway two years later.

After more than five decades in the industry, she officially retired in 2004, hosting an emotionally charged farewell show in Paris.

“A cascade of applause greeted Hanae Mori as the audience rose to greet the Japanese fashion designer’s final Paris show.” The International HeraldTribune reported at the time. “Visibly upset, the designer surrounded herself with models wearing final dresses deliciously embroidered with butterflies, the symbol of the house.”

Scroll through the gallery below to see other famous people who have died in 2022 so far

Updated: August 18, 2022, 2:42 p.m.

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