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Pioneering Japanese 'butterflies' designer Hanae Mori dies at 96

Image: Reuters Berita 24 English -  Hanae Mori , a pioneering designer who brought Japanese designs to the world of haute couture and made ...

Image: Reuters

Berita 24 English -  Hanae Mori, a pioneering designer who brought Japanese designs to the world of haute couture and made Empress Masako's wedding dress, has died at the age of 96.

Mori was born in the rural prefecture of Shimane. In later years, she remembered feeling "embarrassed" when her doctor father bought her fashionable clothes from Mitsukoshi, a famous department store in Tokyo.

Still, she eventually moved to the city, where she went to college and then design school. In 1951, she opened her own studio in the city center, which was still damaged from the war.

Working as a designer for movie directors helped her develop her style, but in 1961, when she went to Paris to learn about Coco Chanel and then went to New York, things changed.

"I felt very connected to my roots as a 'Japanese person,'" Mori told the Rakuten FashionWeek Tokyo website in an interview. Her office said she had died on August 11.

"Cheap Japanese goods sold in the basements of department stores... The way Madame Butterfly was portrayed in the opera "Madame Butterfly," which I saw in New York," she said.

""It's not Japan!" I thought I would try my luck with things made in Japan."

In 1965, she showed her first collection in New York. It was a mix of Eastern and Western ideas, which made it stand out.

Over the next 10 years, she had shows in Europe and opened a fashion house in Paris. She was the first Asian woman to be accepted into a French haute couture group.

"I chose the butterfly as my theme because it shows how a Japanese woman spreads her wings around the world," she said.

Before she retired in 2004, one of her most famous jobs was making the dress that Empress Masako wore to her wedding to Crown Prince Naruhito in 1993.

She also made uniforms for the flight attendants of Japan Airlines and for the Japanese Olympic teams at the 1992 Summer Games in Barcelona and the 1994 Winter Games in Lillehammer.

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