Three years later, the New York Times declared Mori a household name–“synonymous with Japan in women’s clothing, like Toyota in automobiles, Sony in tape recorders and Nikon in cameras.” While very much based in Europe—she also memorably created costumes for the Puccini opera “Madame Butterfly” in Milan in 1985—Mori continued to work steadily in her home country, outfitting Japanese athletes for the Olympics and Empress Masako for her wedding in 1993. Her fragrance line was a particular success, and her marquee scents for men and women remain fragrane shelf staples to this day. By that time, Mori’s namesake company had become a $500 million international business. Her designs tended to appeal to those who dressed more conservatively; her blend of Western design and Japanese sensibilities were not, as Vogue put it, “for women who wanted to make an entrance.” To Mori, “the whole Japanese concept of beauty is based on concealment.”
Photo by Imperial Household Agency via Getty Images
Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako (wearing Hanae Mori) after their wedding at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, 1993.
Two years after selling off portions of her company and being awarded the French Legion of Honor, Mori mounted her last couture show in Paris in 2004. “I feel that it’s all over,” she said at the time. “I was happy to see all of my good friends of the past 27 years come here. I feel no loneliness.” She took her bow alongside the couture bride, her granddaughter Izumi, who was among several to remember Mori on Instagram. “Thank you for all the amazing memories and experience,” she captioned a slideshow featuring photos of herself and her grandmother over the years.