Thursday, April 02, 2015
Hanae Mori's Colours are Herself
Hanae Mori is the most famous female fashion designer from Japan. Her book (1993) "Fashion – A Butterfly That Flew Across the Border" starts by describing how she flies to Paris for the haute culture collection season and gives orders to an ingratiating French designer, so I thought it might be a series of brags - like my blog - but in fact the book and her life is strikingly humble.
The book ends (in the penultimate section) with some observations on Japanese culture, such as that it is a blend of other cultures and that it aims at simplicity (kanso). Ms. Mori's book also has a lot to say about colour and contains the following passage, moving at least in the original.
"The things that we experience in childhood become attached to our person. They become a part of us. For example, seeing some colour it is not that I recall some scene from my past. It's like, "My green is that green." Sometimes it is the colour of rice fields, at others that of mountains. But it is not that I am recalling them, rather those things from my childhood are the basis upon which I build my life." (Mori, 1993, p17)
Having a narrative self means that we do not narrate a something else but we are created through the act of self narration. Hanae Mori's colours are part of herself, and the basis from which she creates herself.
Mori, H. (1993) "Fashion – A Butterfly That Flew Across the Border" 森 英恵.(1993).ファッション―蝶は国境をこえる. 岩波新書.
Mori's text continues
Today, fashion has become integrated into human lifestyle (lit fashion has become human living the very thing). Fashion makes our lives more luxurious and fun. For this reason the way in which humans coexist with nature is the basis of my work. I am faced with the profound realisation now that, even when involved in fashion design, I am at real advantage as a result of having had close contact with nature and the passing of the seasons during my upbringing.
And all this time I had been thinking that "humans coexist with nature" ("ninngen ga shizen to kyouzon suru") meant simply not dropping litter! The Japanese co-exist with nature in a far more radical way, and this informs the way in which Japanese designers see fashion as life. Living in the visual world entails the radical coexistance of human life, nature and clothing both of which go to form the self as visually experienced rather than narrated.
Image Hanae Mori by Justine C., on Flickr
This blog represents the opinions of the author, Timothy Takemoto, and not the opinions of his employer.