Hanae Mori (centre R) walking on the catwalk after the presentation of her autumn-winter 2004-05 haute couture collection in Paris. AFP
Japanese fashion designer Hanae Mori has died aged 96.
Her death was confirmed by her team on Thursday (18 August) where they revealed that she had died at home in Tokyo on 11 August. No cause of death has been revealed.
The designer, who was often referred to as “Madame Butterfly” for her signature motif, had designed gowns for Nancy Reagan, Grace Kelly, and the wedding dress of Japan’s current empress, Masako.
Mori was the first Japanese and Asian designer to break into French haute couture nearly half a century ago, when her label joined the ranks in 1977.
She was born in 1926 in a rural area of Western Japan before moving to Tokyo to study literature at Tokyo Women’s Christian University.
Mori began her career in Tokyo, making costumes for films and opening an atelier above a noodle shop, before visiting New York and then Paris to try and expand her brand.
It was in Paris that she met Coco Chanel, where Chanel told Mori that she should wear something orange to contrast with her black hair.
Mori later told the “Washington Post” of the meeting: “The whole Japanese concept of beauty is based on concealment. I suddenly realised that I should change my approach and make my dresses help a woman stand out.”
Mori’s first collection was shown in 1965 in New York, and she continued to show collections for nearly four decades until she retired in 2004.
Mori’s death comes just a week after fellow Japanese designer Issey Miyake died from liver cancer aged 84.
Miyake was a pioneer of the creaseless pleat, and the designer behind Steve Jobs’ iconic turtlenecks.
He started his career sketching high end handbags and shoes, before branching into fashion, designing garments and jewellery with unconventional materials such as metal and plastic.
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