Ryerson Fashion Research Collection

Opening the closet door to a Canadian fashion archive

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Hanae Mori Velvet Shift Dress with Target Pattern c.1970

by Ingrid Mida and Kimberly Leckey


Hanae Mori Target Dress c.1970 FRC2009.03.001 Front View

This Hanae Mori shift dress with stand collar, short sleeves and belt is made out of velvet and is fully lined in black polyester satin. The design on the front of the dress is an abstracted pink and red circular target pattern. The design on the back of the dress is an abstracted motif of black and gray. One sleeve is in black velvet and the other sleeve is a repeat of the target pattern. The dress closes with a back metal zipper and two hooks and eyes at the collar. This Hanae Mori velvet shift dress with belt (FRC2009.03.001 A+B) was donated to the Ryerson Fashion Research Collection in 2009 by Jocelyn Ryles. No other provenance information was obtained at the time of donation.

The following description and analysis was written by Ryerson School of Fashion student Kimberly Leckey and was revised and edited by Collection Coordinator Ingrid Mida. It should be noted that Kimberly Leckey’s interpretation of this dress represents only one of many possibilities. This dress might also be used to consider a range of topics in a scholarly approach to fashion research including: the design practices of Hanae Mori over her career, the nature of Japanese designers on western fashion, or perhaps the psychology reflected in the styles and silhouettes of 1970s fashions for women.


The dress is sewn together with black polyester thread and the inside seams are cut in a scalloped design which stops 9” down on the side seams. The edges are hand-finished in a blanket stitch. The shoulder seams include a ¼” bra clip. As well, the binding on the dress zipper facing, armholes and hem is a Hanae Mori signature diagonal repeating print.

Outside measurements include: top of back neckline to hem- 39 ¼’’; top of front neckline to hem- 38 ¼’’; sleeve- 8’’ long; collar- 1 ¼’’ wide; side seams- 31’’; shoulder- 3 7/8”; front bust dart- 5 ¼” long, 3” down from armhole; back neck dart-2” long, 2 ¼ from center back; YKK zipper opening- 19”, 1/8” teeth. Inside measurements include: hem- 2”; inside seam allowance- ¾”; sleeve hem- 1 ¾” including twill tape; armhole seam allowance- 3/8” binding.


Hanae Mori Target Dress c.1970 FRC2009.03.001 A+B Back View

The accessory which comes with the dress is a belt (FRC2009.03.001B) that is made of the same velvet as the dress and is 70 ½’’ long and 1 ¾’’ wide, with three gold rings with a diameter of 1 ¼”. The rings are spaced unevenly along the length of the belt.


Hanae Mori Target Dress c.1970, Detail of Belt. FRC2009.03.001B


The fabrication, the length of the dress and short sleeves suggest that this dress might have been ideal for an in-between season such as fall or spring in Toronto.

The dress was worn multiple times due to the wear evident on the inside underarm seam (where someone would apply deodorant which would then rub off on that particular spot) as well as the condition of the zipper that was once black but now exposes some of the silver finish underneath. This suggests that this dress was worn often.

The belt might be worn more loosely across the hips due to the fact that no side seam strings are present or seem to have previously been attached for the purpose of being held in place. It is also important to note that the three rings are dispersed unevenly which is curious. One reason for this might be for the adjustment of different lengths of excess belt which hangs when attached. Another might be for different uses of the belt, perhaps as a hair tie used around the head which would use the closest ring which then wraps around again and ties into the second or third ring.

My emotional response to this dress is one of delight to the pattern and colours and one of curiosity to the abstractness of the shapes and the use of the accessory.


Hanae Mori Target Dress, c.1970. FRC2009.03.001 A+B, Side View


I speculate is that this dress was owned and worn by a young woman in her mid-20s to late 30s who could afford a Parisian couture label like Hanae Mori and was young and spirited enough to pull off the loud abstract pattern of the velvet shift dress. The size and silhouette of the dress indicate that she had a slim figure.  The dress is not worn out, however the amount of wear suggests that it was often in rotation within her wardrobe. Her style was very on trend for the 1970s suggesting that she was expressive in how she dressed and was possibly involved in influential groups in the art or fashion world. She liked clothing she could wear in her own way and accessorize to create a full look and the accessory with the dress that could be worn multiple ways does just this. The Hanae Mori dress could have been worn out for drinks with friends, dancing, walking the streets of Toronto, or for a friend’s house party. The wearer of this piece had bold style and a taste for expensive clothing that allowed her to express her individuality.


Curator’s Notes by Ingrid Mida

This dress is one of three garments in the Ryerson Fashion Research Collection by Hanae Mori. The other two garments include:

FRC2006.01.050 A silk chemise dress with 3/4 sleeves, in an abstracted pattern of black, gold, red, rust orange, purple, blue and black diagonal stripes. c.1980-1985.

FRC2012.03.001A+B+C Black cotton shell print skirt with alternate tops. A. Halter top with peplum waist and side boning. Ribbon ties and back button closures with loops. B. Alternate top with shoulder pads, puffed elbow length sleeves, piping on sleeve and around armholes and back button closures. C. Circle skirt, c.1989. Purchased at Creeds in Toronto.

All three garments are illustrative of the fine workmanship associated with the Hanae Mori label. The two dresses are both boldly coloured with vibrant abstracted designs that are signatures of the label. The target dress and the shell skirt with alternate tops are designed to give the wearer choice as to how to wear the pieces, indicating that Mori wanted to offer her wearer versatility and choice. Although all three garments have Hanae Mori labels, the text and design of the labels are different, offering the opportunity to research the dating and origins of the garments.

Hanae Mori (b.1926) was born in Japan and presented in New York for the first time in 1965 with her “East meets West” collection and began showing in Paris in 1977. Committed to craftsmanship by hand, she was one of the first Asian designers to be accepted into the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne in the late 1970s. Her signature print was a butterfly, and the bright patterns and bold hues of her chic clothes appealed to strong, independent women. After Hanae Mori’s last collection in 2004, journalist Suzy Menkes wrote: “The mix of colour, pattern, and embellishment, but always with a controlled and elegant silhouette, proved how much the name Hanae Mori will be missed in the world of haute couture”.



Menkes, Suzy. “Hanae Mori: A Butterfly Good-bye”. The New York Times, July 9, 2004.

Mori, Hanae. Hanae Mori Style. New York: Kodansha International, 2001.

Vogue.com. Hanae Mori. Retrieved from: http://www.vogue.com/voguepedia/Hanae_Mori




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Embellished Silk Crepe Evening Jacket, late 1930s

by Ingrid Mida and Kristina McMullin


Black silk faille beaded evening jacket FRC1988.02.020A

This black silk crepe evening jacket (FRC188.02.20A) has long sleeves, padded shoulders and a keyhole neckline with a three inch cream band around the neckline. The jacket is heavily embellished with blue, gray, and silver sequins and beads in leaf motifs. There is no label. It was donated to the Ryerson Fashion Research Collection by Shelagh Stewart in 1988 along with a dress, which is missing from the collection.


Close up of beading FRC1988.02.020A

The following description and analysis was written by fashion student Kristina McMullin and was revised and edited by Collection Co-ordinator Ingrid Mida.


The long-sleeved beaded evening jacket sits just above  the natural waist and has a keyhole front opening with a closure of two hook and eyes at the neckline. The waistline has a U-shaped edge, meaning the bottom of the jacket curves up to create the U-shape, then back down to the waistline. The bottom of the jacket has the same shape as the keyhole neckline; the two curves reflect one another. The sleeves each have keyhole openings at the top of the arm in a similar shape to the keyhole opening in the front; they are approximately 4.5 inches long and 3 inches wide. The sleeve openings would fall from the shoulder to above the elbow. The sleeve openings have the same three-inch cream band around them. The bottoms of the sleeves have an opening with 3 snaps on them. The jacket has shoulder and waist darts in both the front and back to a create shape for the wearer. The elbows have seams to allow the wearer to move their arms, specifically elbows, freely. The jacket is fully lined in the cream silk crepe. Around the both neckline and the armholes, there is beading and sequin detailing. The beads and sequins are in a blue colour family – icy bright blue, to deep navy blue, as well as white and grey. The beading is in an abstracted leaf pattern, with many leaves and vines to create depth around the openings of the garment.


Close up of keyhole neckline, black evening jacket FRC1988.02.020A


The beading tells a story about the jacket and its owner, since the beading is all hand done, and is still perfectly intact, eighty years after it was created. This shows that this jacket was well crafted, and was likely worn very little. What makes this jacket interesting and unique is that it has several paradoxes; it has a weightless quality about it, due to the light nature of the silk, however it is weighted down with a pair of weights in the back, at the base of the two back darts, to lay it flat on the wearer. It has an inherently timeless quality about it, while still remaining true to the 1930’s aesthetic.

This jacket also contains unspoken messages about the enduring nature of fashion and art. Even though the 1930s was a time of poverty and despair for many people as a result of the Great Depression, artists and designers were still creating beautiful objects.  It speaks to human nature that the designer of this silk crepe jacket chose to embellish it with lavish hand beading and reiterates that if you have the ability to look beautiful, you will, no matter what is going on in the surrounding world. When I look at this jacket, I am both inspired and disturbed. I am inspired because of its inherit beauty, and the craftsmanship behind it. However, I am disturbed that during a time when fashion should have been considered most trivial, it was a highlight for some people.


Side view of evening jacket FRC1988.02.020A

The beauty of this jacket also offers an argument against fast fashion. Fast fashion clothing we consume today lasts a season or two at best, and yet this jacket has withstood the span of time, both stylistically and in its construction. This jacket is in perfect condition; there are no runs in the silk crepe, and no noticeable missing sequins or beads. This jacket would be considered couture quality, due to the hand made techniques, the attention to detail and the fact that the construction has held up over time. There are slights signs of wear on the inside lining, some colour imperfections and signs of fabric disintegration. This is expected, as crème is a colour that shows imperfections and silk is a delicate fabric. The signs of wear are minimal and relatively invisible. With the condition of this jacket, it can be surmised that it was not worn a lot.


It can be speculated that the wearer of this garment was very wealthy and would likely have had help around the house, since this jacket is all one piece with no full opening and the wearer may have needed assistance in getting it on. It can also be speculated that this jacket would have been worn over top of a dress. The keyhole opening is too low and wide to be worn without another garment underneath, and the wearer would have had another silk crepe piece, most likely a long black sheath dress, very popular in the 1930s. In the absence of a label, it is likely that this jacket would have been a one of a kind piece.


Sleeve detail of black beaded evening jacket FRC1988.02.020A

Curator’s Notes by Ingrid Mida

This garment was donated in 1988 and records indicate that there was also a black sleeveless cocktail dress accepted into the collection at that time. Unfortunately, the matching dress (FRC1988.02.020B) has gone missing and is assumed lost. Nevertheless, the beauty of the beadwork on this garment is characteristic of the romantic and glamourous looks of the 1930s. During this period of economic crisis and political instability, Hollywood offered an escapist fantasy, and those that could afford it emulated the dress silhouettes of the stars of Hollywood, adopting bias cuts that clung to the body as well as romantic and feminine silhouettes. These looks continued into the early 1940s and a similar style of jacket with sequin detailing around a keyhole neckline can been found on page 132 of Vogue March 1, 1940 by Capri. Fashion does not always change to correspond with the end of the decade, making the exact dating of garments without provenance information a challenge. Even though the matching dress is missing, this evening jacket offers the opportunity to study the artistry of sequin and beaded embellishments, and consider how the zeitgeist of the times becomes embodied in the garments of a period.