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‘Madame Butterfly’: 8 Things To Know About Japanese Couturier Hanae Mori Who Passed Away At 96

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Last night, the world of fashion mourned the demise of celebrated Japanese fashion designer Hanae Mori. Best known as ‘Madame Butterfly,’ Hanae’s close to 70-years-old legacy has made her a pioneer in the business of fashion. Mori, who opened her first ever store in Tokyo in the year 1951, was the flag bearer of Japan’s rising stake in fashion, and the working class women. Hanae’s idea of androgynous and feminine styles found a new definition through her designs. Her initial years in the industry brought her from a tailoring space above a noodle shop to her first American boutique in the 1970s. Walking her way to the creamiest layer of the business, Mori learnt from the success stories of Coco Chanel, Pierre Cardin, and Hubert de Givenchy amongst others. Synonymous with lacey, dainty designs, packed with Japan’s cultural significance, Hanae gave birth to her popular butterfly motif. A recipient of prestigious honours around the globe, Hanae, passed away at 96, as reported by her office. Here’s remembering one of the world’s most celebrated fashion icons.


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The Turning Point

An influential meeting with designer Coco Chanel was the turning point in Hanae’s design career. It was then that the motivation of going global brought a new wave of change to her business strategies.


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Firsts Of Many

Hanae was the first Japanese designer to curate a showcase in New York in 1965. The inaugural global collection was well received and was known as “East meets West.” This further led to Mori’s first ever store in America, leaving behind a legacy for young Japanese designers to follow.

Leading The Haute Couture Trail

In 1977, Hanae also became the first Asian woman to have been invited by the prestigious Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture. The honour also explained Hanae’s well-established name in the industry, since she was one of the handful of names to have gotten permission to labelling her designs as “haute couture.”


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A Cinematic Experience

Besides being an established fashion designer, Mori also found a reputed space for herself in the world of Japanese cinema. The designer is known to have curated some iconic onscreen looks for popular Japanese stars like Shima Iwashita, Yujiro Ishihara, Mie Kitahara, musician Hibari Misora’s “Tokyo Dome Concert” and Milan’s “Madame Butterfly” Opera. She is also known for dressing up celebrities including, Grace Kelly, and Bianca Jagger.


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Dressing The Royals

Amongst her most popular works, Hanae also designed a white wedding gown for Japan’s Empress, then crown princess–Masako. The spectacular gown is still one of the most notable pieces of designs mentioned under her name.


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Shedding A New Light To Feminism

From a housewife to a working woman, Hanae was amongst the few Japanese women to have found a space in the working crowd. She also redefined the ideologies of feminism, asexuality and androgyny through her creations. The designer changed the idea of Japanese women going to work. During a time when the country was flooded with male-led positions in almost every second sector, Mori built a space for herself. Through her designs, she replaced the age-old practices of “concealment” in womenswear designs, with curations that made a statement. Bright colours and floral, butterfly motifs were her anchors in this journey.

Also Read: Sonam Kapoor Grieves The Loss Of Her Mother Sunita’s Favourite Fashion Designer, Issey Miyake

The Butterfly Effect

Popularly known as “Madame Butterfly,” Mori made the motif popular. Her brand which later expanded to a wide range of fragrances, scarves, and umbrellas, came adorned with butterfly and cherry designs. Her signature butterfly design was a stamp she fixed on her iconic collections.

Prestigious Honours

The late designer is also a recipient of many awards and honours in her home country. In the year 1988, she was awarded with Medals of Honour (Japan) of Purple Ribbon by the Japanese government. She also received honours including–the French Legion of Honour by President François Mitterrand of France and the Order of Culture by the Emperor of Japan.

Rest in power!

Featured Image Credits: Jasveen Kaur Sawhney

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