Celebrated Japanese Fashion Designer Hanae Mori Dies at 96

TOKYO — Designer Hanae Mori, known for her elegant signature butterfly motifs, numerous cinema fashions and the wedding gown of Japan’s empress, has died, her office said Thursday. She was 96.

Mori represented the rising of Japan, a trendy nation, and the rise in the number of women who work. According to Hanae Mori Office, she died in her Tokyo residence on Aug. 11 after suffering from mild fever. The Hanae Mori Office reported that she had been seen by a physician at her Tokyo home. However, no cause was provided.

When Empress Masako married Emperor Naruhito in 1993, she wore a Hanae-Mori wedding dress with rose-petal designs. Mori designed uniforms to be worn by Japan Airlines flight attendants and bank clerks as well as high school students, the Japanese Olympic team, and for the Japanese athletes at the Barcelona Olympics. These uniforms weren’t as extravagant or flashy as her runway designs but were professional and appropriate to their respective roles.

A model shows clothes designed by Hanae Moi at the Amazon Fashion Week in Tokyo on March 23rd, 2018.

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With her motto, “You feel decent, no matter where in the world you wear them,” Mori wanted to give confidence and dignity to those wearing her designs. Mori’s umbrellas and scarves were often decorated with brightly colored butterflies. They became a status symbol for working women.

In 1951, she opened her first studio and became a leader in a new generation of Japanese designers that went global. Her first New York show, held in 1965, was acclaimed as “East meets West.”

In 1977, she opened her Paris studio and built an international company that included perfumes, handbags, publishing and fashion.

Mori, who is known for infusing Japanese elements into the kimono was responsible for designing costumes for hundreds Japanese movies in the 50s and 60s. She dressed star actresses such as Shima Itahara, Sayuri Yashinaga, and Mie Kitahara in some of most iconic cinematic pieces that the time produced.

After the Paris presentation of her 1997-1998 high-end haute couture collection, Hanae, a Japanese fashion designer, is applauded in Paris by model afterward, July 9, 1997.

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Fashion buffs are familiar with the elaborate costumes she created for Hibari Misora. She also designed for the opera, including “Madame Butterfly” in Milan in 1985, and the Noh theater. Her French government awarded her the Legion of Honor in 2002.

Two sons are her survivors, each with their own businesses. She also has seven grandchildren and many great-grandchildren. In 1996, her husband Ken Mori passed away. Hikari and Izumi Morai, her grandsons, are models. Family members held a funeral service. The details of a public memorial service are still unknown.

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