Hanae Mori HAUTE COUTURE: Hanae Mori-The Work and Style

Romantic, innovative and exquisite

By Iwami Art Museum

Gold dress and caftan with cranes (2004) by Hanae MoriIwami Art Museum

Haute couture

Since her earliest involvement in fashion, when inspired by the work of Christian Dior and Pierre Cardin, Hanae Mori has strived to create exquisite, delicate handmade clothing. From the mid-1960s, when expanding her activities to theUnited States, she skillfully introduced traditional Japanese motifs in the context of Western clothing. Her creations were highly acclaimed as “East meetsWest.” In 1977, she became the first Asian woman to be admitted to la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne, the highest echelon of Parisian fashion. Presented here are some of Mori’s foremost creations, produced during the four decades between her mid-1960s American debut and her final couture collection in 2004.Using obi and kimono fabric and other high-quality Japanese components, she undertook wide-ranging styles, including dramatic evening dresses patterned with flowers and birds, gorgeous cocktail dresses adorned with lace and embroidery, and chic suits of refined three-dimensional form. In every case, they are garments of the highest possible quality, created with skilled craftsmanship.

Short evening ensemble of obi fabric (1964) by Hanae MoriIwami Art Museum

Career

Hanae Mori’s career began as a designer of film costumes in Japan. Her first show as a fashion designer was in 1964, in the United States. This garment was first shown as part of the International Fashion Festival which was held in Las Vegas in the same year. A photograph of this garment, worn by model Miki Irie, remains today.

Made with Nishijin weave maru-obi fabric featuring gold thread, it is an important example of Mori’s early work, at a time when she began showing her work in Japan.

Chrysanthemum pajamas (1966) by Hanae MoriIwami Art Museum

First overseas collection

Mori showed her first overseas collection at the Hotel Delmonico in New York. It was at this show that she was discovered by Stanley Marcus, the owner of the Dallas-based luxury department store Neiman Marcus, after which Mori’s dresses became available in the United States, primarily at the New York store.

Mori’s iconic designs

At the time, there was a demand amongst American women who entertained at home for glamorous hostess gowns. Mori’s glamorous and yet elegant garments such as this example were the perfect response to this demand and were extremely popular. This dress was photographed by Richard Avedon and featured in a double page spread in American Vogue (November 1966). It remains one of Mori’s iconic designs.

Evening dress with coat of obi fabric (1968) by Hanae MoriIwami Art Museum

Evening dress with coat of obi fabric

The brand name “Hanae Mori” is emblazoned in a hand-written style of Japanese text on the label of this coat, together with the English inscription “Made in Japan.” It is an example of the garments that Mori was designing when she entered the American market, after which her business began its steady growth. It is also a garment in which every stage of the production process, from the fabric to the tailoring, was carried out in Japan. This garment also happened to be a favorite of American dancer Martha Graham.

Butterfly caftan (1976) by Hanae MoriIwami Art Museum

Butterfly caftan

This dress features Oriental motifs such as the butterfly, the tiger, and waves. Ever since Mori entered the overseas market, she has continued to integrate Japanese and Oriental elements into her garments, and this work is one example. It incorporates both decorative and dramatic elements which combine to create a strong visual impact.

Red satin evening dress in makie-style (1994) by Hanae MoriIwami Art Museum

Red satin evening dress in makie-style

This garment features autumn grasses, printed onto the fabric in gold and finished in the makie style, and is strongly reminiscent of traditional Japanese craftwork.

White silk dress dyed with tiger, butterflies and waves (2004) by Hanae MoriIwami Art Museum

White silk dress dyed with tiger, butterflies and waves

This dress features Oriental motifs such as the butterfly, the tiger, and waves. Ever since Mori entered the overseas market, she has continued to integrate Japanese and Oriental elements into her garments, and this work is one example. It incorporates both decorative and dramatic elements which combine to create a strong visual impact.

White silk dress dyed with tiger, butterflies and waves(detail) (2004) by Hanae MoriIwami Art Museum

Gold dress and caftan with cranes (2004) by Hanae MoriIwami Art Museum

Gold dress and caftan with cranes(detail) (2004) by Hanae MoriIwami Art Museum

Black silk-satin and wool cocktail suit (1989) by Hanae MoriIwami Art Museum

Mori Hanae Ryuko Tsushin (editions 17, 18, 22, 24, 29)Iwami Art Museum

Writing

Besides creating clothing, Mori has always
written numerous articles for magazines and newspapers and also published
regular columns. Her writing is always clear and accessible to general readers. 

Mori’s writings include books about clothing creation and her own fashion work, such as Ashita no detain, Garasu no Cho, Fasshon Cho ha kokkyo wo koeru, and Goodbye Butterfly. In the 1950s and ‘60s she also offered pointers for sewing along with clothing designs in dressmaking magazines and published columns advising readers about how to wear clothing for best effect. Among them, her series “Mode Focus” (24 articles) published in Soen magazine provided fascinating reading from a designer’s perspective on “the fun of wrapping,” “cutting,” “red,” and other aspects of working with materials and colors. From 1966, she also began publishing Mori Hanae Ryuko Tsushin. This was a newsletter publication distributed to customers in Hanae Mori boutiques at the time. In collaboration with Japan Sen-I Shimbun newspaper, the newsletter aimed to report the latest world fashion news illustrated with photographs, as well as providing information on and advertising the Hanae Mori brand. In 1969, the publication changed its name to Ryuko Tsushin and developed into a full-fledged fashion magazine with special features regarding international fashion collections, designers, and trends.

Ashita no dezain (1979)Iwami Art Museum

Books

Ashita no dezain (paperback), 1982, From the collection of: Iwami Art Museum
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Garasu no cho, 1984, From the collection of: Iwami Art Museum
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Fasshon Cho ha kokkyo wo koeru, 1993, From the collection of: Iwami Art Museum
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Goodbye Butterfly, 2010, From the collection of: Iwami Art Museum
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Credits: Story

With the cooperation of HANAE MORI OFFICE

Photographted by
Eiji Ina: White silk dress dyed with tiger, butterflies and waves, Gold dress and caftan with cranes, Black silk-satin and wool cocktail suit,
Haruo Inoue: Short evening ensemble of obi fabric, Chrysanthemum pajamas, Evening dress with coat of obi fabric
Kazuki Sugimoto: Red satin evening dress in make-style, Mori Hanae Ryuko Tsushin

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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