By Hillary Latos
Timeless and elegant yet eclectic and vibrant best describes Josie Natori. Launching her career over 37 years ago, Josie has changed the rules for lingerie and brought her East meets West sensibility to rise to the top of her peers. Here we get a glimpse into the world of Josie Natori who bridges the generations with her more serious grande dame Natori line characterized by rich prints and exquisite fabrics and her jeune fille Josie brand that's all about the unexpected fresh looks from mixing and matching eclectic graphic prints. Between opening new stores around the world and launching a new fragrance, Josie, this fall we caught up with this dynamic and legendary designer.
For your fragrance how did you choose your notes?
Fragrance is something that is very connected to our brand and I love fragrance, it's the DNA of what our brand is – East meets West. As this is under the Josie brand it has to appeal to a younger crowd with a lightness and energy that's not so serious. The floral notes uses sampaguita, a sweet jasmine derivation from the Philippines that's tempered with amber and citrus notes to give it effervescence.
How have your travels inspired your collection?
My travels have always inspired my collections over the last 37 years. I'm very drawn to the East and have collected a large archived collection of textiles and antiquities, which has been a great deal of inspiration over the years whether it's been from Istanbul or Shanghai. We just opened a store on Elizabeth Street. It's eclectic and fun. We have 6-7 shops in Japan; there's a fun attitude of mixing graphic prints and layering pieces and the lingerie has an element of sexiness.
Which fashion icons have you met that you've been most impressed by?
There are so many great ones, I'm particularly drawn to European designers like Azzedine Aliaia, Alexander McQueen and Sarah Burton; there's so much talent. I'm also so happy to see so many Asian- American designers today too. Before it was a rarity and it's great to see more assimilation and diversity, it shows you how much the world has changed. It's a hard business, and I think everyone has something to contribute, and I have so much respect for them.
How have you felt the industry has changed since you started?
180 degrees! The Internet changed everything, people are shopping 24/7 which is a big game changer, when I started there were 100 department stores, there are 5 today. I was very fortunate that I started in a small pond in the world of lingerie, I was a big fish, but today I'm not sure if I would've lasted if I started in the big pond. If you have a good idea there's always room, you have to stand apart. We were fortunate to have carved our identity long before because today the price of entry and sustainability is not a joke even when you have a brand. Thank God I still love it and have a passion for it.
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