NATORI’S INSPIRATION: ASIA AND ANTIQUES

Byline: Wendy Hessen

NEW YORK — Fans of Josie Natori’s luxurious lingerie and colorful embroideries will soon have another piece of Natori that can carry them beyond the bedroom.
After quietly adding a collection of scarves and wraps a year and a half ago, Natori is rounding out her accessories offerings with her first handbag collection.
Inspired by her Asian heritage and her own treasure trove of antique textiles, kimonos and obis, Natori’s handbags are geared for late day into evening.
“I think evening is a time that we are associated with, so [centering the handbags on that time of the day] is a natural point of view for us,” said Natori, co-chairman of Natori Co., as she filled a tabletop with bags in a dazzling array of colors and materials.
A signature in many of the bags is an arched bottom, meant to reflect Natori’s interest in Japanese architecture. Other architectural touches include hammered brass or opaque, black resin handles and frames carved to resemble the hinges or knobs of doors Natori has seen in Tibetan temples.
Besides clean satin wristlet styles, there are embossed and beaded satins in top handles, clutches and an unusual tube-within-a-tube shape. Other materials include velvet, silk, feathers, lizard, python and crocodile, and several bags have mink trim. Many of the satins turn up in Natori’s favorite color, purple, but there is also red, cinnabar, black, brown, and exotic skins with a subtle metallic wash.
Among the most striking are the pieces crafted of Natori’s printed antique kimono or obi fabric, some of which originated in Japan and China and date to the 18th century.
“There is a femininity here, but it’s hard and soft at the same time,” said Natori. “[The bags] are not cute or ethnic.”
Quite a few of the bags feature jade accents, in either cabochon tops for closures, or carved into Natori’s family crest, or Kamon. The round, carved crest motif is repeated in the jacquard lining in all the bags. Red jacquard is used in all the black bags, while all the others have a black jacquard lining.
Retail prices for the bags, which will reach stores beginning in August, range from $500 to $3,500, with the core of the collection retailing from $650 to $1,300. An antique obi bag will retail for about $1,400. The bags will likely be available in many of the same stores that carry her lingerie and sleepwear, such as Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue.
Neither Natori or Kathy Nedorostek, president of Natori, would provide a first-year projection for the handbags, although it looks like the handbags and scarves won’t be the last accessories license. Nedorostek confirmed that the company is on the verge of signing a license for slippers, which would also bow for fall.