Hanae Mori Evening Dress

Designer who brought Japanese imagery and techniques to haute couture

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Often cast as a transitional figure, Hanae Mori (b. 1926) merged the worlds of Japanese traditional dress and Western high-end fashion. As a painter, textile designer, and fashion designer, Mori showcased prints in pared down silhouettes, first creating paintings that were then translated into textile patterns. As the first Asian designer to enter the world of French haute couture and changing the Western fashion world forever, she earned a Neiman Marcus Award for Distinguished Service in the Field of Fashion in 1973.

This dress is made of long rectangles of fabric without darts or complicated construction, echoing the way kimonos are created. The simplified shape recalls flowing caftans and loose-fitting leisure clothing popular in 1970s America, appealing to Mori's audiences on both continents.

Japanese designers have radically changed our understandings of high style. Hanae Mori brought Japanese images and design techniques to Western consumers who looked to Asian cultures for "exotic" inspiration. Consumers in the 1960s and 1970s were increasingly interested in other countries' clothing, food, and customs, but they struggled to understand individual cultures. It was common for Americans to think of all of Asia as a singular culture, ignoring the immense diversity present within the continent. However, in 1974, the Neiman Marcus Fortnight focused solely on Japan, offering Dallasites opportunities to learn about one place in greater specificity, resulting in a better cultural understanding of that country.

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Hanae Mori Evening Dress Artifact from Denton
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