Hanae Mori, Yohji Yamamoto, Issey Miyake & Rei Kawakubo

In 1965, the year Toyota introduced its humble Corona sedan in the U.S. and started Japan's hostile takeover of global auto markets, a subtler sort of invasion began in New York. There, a Japanese fashion designer named Hanae Mori presented her first collection. Her designs, which blended traditional Western forms with Japanese aesthetics, were a critical and commercial sensation; major department stores snapped up Mori's creations, and it wasn't long before "Madame Butterfly," as she came to be known, owned boutiques in New York and Paris and became the first Asian to join the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, France's...

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