Josie Natori marked the 40th anniversary of her company by creating a collection that “honored my heritage,” she said. “I’m proud of the authenticity.” Hand-painted dragons, Suzani rug patterns, embroideries of pagodas, floral and feather brocades, and intricate beading surfaced in many of her looks. The silhouettes’ provenance was also Asian — kimonos, obi sashes, Mandarin jackets, robes and tunics over pants — which were some of the most beautiful looks Natori has shown in her ready-to were collections.
There are more jackets than in past seasons, many cut close to the body and boldly cinched with the fabulous wide leather belts Natori showed this season. Her dragon-detailed fishnet hose, strong iconic pendants and those belts all added a perfect dose of fanfare. A few best-of-show looks: the ivory wool felt topper over skinny black knit crepe pants, appliquéd with white climbing dragons; a wrapped and belted satin jacket over a long, fluid tulle skirt; a wrapped obi minidress in black satin with wide cap sleeves and a huge red dragon, and a knockout beige felted wool wrap with a bold black dragon jacquard.
Natori, who began as a lingerie designer, said her experience with intimates was another, natural influence on this collection, which was evident in a bustier, corset, pajamas and robes and, naturally, her kimonos.
The drama here was quiet; nothing was forced or trend driven, which perhaps was a reflection of the close-to-home ease the designer felt as she worked on her anniversary collection. It’s clear that history is what made this collection so successful.