Arts & Entertainment

Japanese fashion designer Hanae Mori dies at 96

Tokyo, Aug 18 (EFE).- Fashion designer Hanae Mori, known as “Madame Butterfly” for her butterfly motifs and becoming the first Japanese person to become an official “haute couture” designer in Paris in 1977, has died, her studio said. She was 96.

Mori, who gained international recognition for her “East meets West”-themed designs, died on Aug. 11, the studio said, without further details.

Born in Japan’s western Shimane prefecture in 1926, Mori moved to Tokyo where she developed her career, in which she came to dress Japanese Empress Masako in her wedding pageant in 1993.

At just 25, she opened her first studio, Hiyoshiya, in the Tokyo district of Shinjuku, where she created costumes for hundreds of films in the 1950s and became a pioneer in the industry.

In 1965, she held her first show abroad, in New York, under the name “East meets West” and she gained attention for fusing traditional Japanese kimono designs into Western court dresses.

Twelve years later, she opened an haute couture salon in Paris, becoming the first Japanese person to join the Chambre syndicale de la couture parisienne and thus being recognized as an official haute couture designer.

Mori also designed the uniforms for the Japan Airlines flight attendants, where she introduced the miniskirt, as well as the official uniform for the Japanese delegation at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

Her star design was the butterfly, seen on many of her clothes, and earned her the nickname “Madame Butterfly,” an opera for which she also designed costumes, as well as others such as “Elektra,” or ballets and musicals such as the Japanese productions of “Cinderella” or “Evita.”

In addition to dressing Empress Masako, his clientele also included Princess Grace of Monaco and other celebrities, leading to her receiving Japan’s Purple Ribbon Medal of Honor, the highest cultural award given for significant contributions in arts, sports and technology.

In 1989, Mori also received the French Legion of Honor, the country’s highest distinction, given to French or foreign citizens for merit in the civil or military field.

Mori’s death comes days after the death of fellow Japanese designer Issey Miyake, known internationally for her creations that combined Japanese tradition with avant-garde materials and cuts. She was 84.

Mori, who was retired, still ran a few shops in the well-known Tokyo neighborhood of Harajuku, as well as her perfume brand, which is still active and made in France. EFE


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