Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Lia Chang Photos: Fashion Designer Josie Natori at New Boutique in Nolita; Honored by Asian Cultural Council in November

Fashion Designer Josie Natori at the Josie Natori Boutique in Nolita on June 16, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang

Fashion Designer Josie Natori at the Josie Natori Boutique in Nolita on June 16, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang

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Josie Cruz Natori, founder and CEO of the lingerie and lifestyle label Natori, opened her first New York boutique this summer in NoLita and launched her dynamic new fragrance, JOSIE.

“There is a confidence that comes alive in Josie’s lingerie….sexy, yet still approachable. We mirrored that feeling in the fragrance, showcasing the signature Sampaquita flower from Josie’s native Philippines with texture from patchouli and woods, and bold strokes of color.” — Perfumer Frank Voelkl and Master Perfumer Honorine Blanc

Read more about the Josie Natori Boutique at WWD and Departures.com.

253 Elizabeth St.
New York, NY
646-684-4934
www.natori.com

Josie Natori Boutique in Nolita. Photo by Lia Chang

Josie Natori Boutique in Nolita. Photo by Lia Chang

In November, Natori, a long-time Asian Cultural Council (ACC) trustee, and renowned artist and ACC alumnus Cai Guo-Qiang, were honored at ACC’s 50th Anniversary Celebration benefit gala at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in New York. Click here to read more about Asian Cultural Council.

 Philippine Consul General Mario L. de Leon Jr. attended the 50th Anniversary Benefit Gala of the Asian Cultural Council (ACC) held at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in New York City on November 18, 2014 where top Fil-Am fashion designer Josie Cruz Natori, founder and CEO of Natori Company, was one of two 50th Anniversary Honorees. Photo courtesy of Philippine Consulate General in New York

Philippine Consul General Mario L. de Leon Jr. attended the 50th Anniversary Benefit Gala of the Asian Cultural Council (ACC) held at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in New York City on November 18, 2014 where top Fil-Am fashion designer Josie Cruz Natori, founder and CEO of Natori Company, was one of two 50th Anniversary Honorees. Photo courtesy of Philippine Consulate General in New York

Fashion Designer Josie Natori at the Josie Natori Boutique in Nolita on June 16, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang

Fashion Designer Josie Natori at the Josie Natori Boutique in Nolita on June 16, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang

“I have always believed there are no boundaries,” says Josie Cruz Natori, founder and CEO of The Natori Company. Exemplifying her own mantra, Josie Natori crossed continents, navigated varying careers, and surmounted countless obstacles, to create a global brand, Natori.

Born Josephina Almeda Cruz, she credits her entrepreneurial nature to the matriarchal society she grew up in along with the support of her close-knit Filipino family. “Women are encouraged to be entrepreneurs,” says Natori of her home country, the Philippines. “My grandmother always said, ‘Don’t put yourself in a position where you have to depend on anyone.’” It seemed like serendipity when the very place she grew up, the place that instilled her with the motivation to become an entrepreneur, was also the inspiration for what turned into a successful lingerie collection; a hand embroidered Filipino blouse. Using an Asian aesthetic, Natori was able to build a distinct brand, melding the visual appeals of both the East and the West.

Josie Natori Boutique in Nolita. Photo by Lia Chang

Josie Natori Boutique in Nolita. Photo by Lia Chang

But Natori did not always want to be in the fashion industry; in fact it was never even in her plans. As a child Natori displayed a natural affinity for the piano, performing a solo concert with the Manila Philharmonic Orchestra at age 9. Born with an ear for music and an eye for art, Natori did not pursue a career in what came so naturally. Instead she decided to challenge herself with a career in business.

Ken Natori and his wife Fashion Designer Josie Natori at the Josie Natori Boutique in Nolita on June 16, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang

Ken Natori and his wife Fashion Designer Josie Natori at the Josie Natori Boutique in Nolita on June 16, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang

Fashion Designer Josie Natori at the Josie Natori Boutique in Nolita on June 16, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang

Fashion Designer Josie Natori at the Josie Natori Boutique in Nolita on June 16, 2014. Photo by Lia Chang

At the age of 17, Natori left Manila for New York where she studied economics at Manhattanville College. Following graduation, she ascended the corporate ladder landing at Merrill Lynch as the first female Vice President of investment banking. By 1976, the rising Wall Street star had married Ken Natori, then Executive Managing Director of Smith Barney, and had given birth to her son Kenneth Jr. By 1977, looking for new challenges and bored with her position, Josie was eager to start something new.

Natori considered a number of entrepreneurial ventures, but none of them seemed to take. On a whim she brought an embroidered blouse from her native country of the Philippines to a buyer at Bloomingdale’s. The buyer encouraged her to turn it into a sleep shirt, Natori took the advice and she was in business! “At the time, lingerie was either lewd or frumpy,” said Natori, who worked to fill the niche in between. More than three decades later the company has grown into a lifestyle brand that has come to include lingerie collections (Josie Natori, Natori, Josie and N Natori), the Josie Natori ready-to-wear collection, home, fragrance and eyewear.

“I love my work, but success in fashion is not enough,” says Natori, who sits on the boards of the Asian Cultural Council, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Women in Need and the Fashion and Design Council of the Philippines. She is also a member of the CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America) and the Committee of 200. In 1988 Natori was honored for her achievements with the Galleon award, presented by Corazon Aquino, then President of the Republic of the Philippines. In 2007, Natori was given the prestigious Lakandula Award from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, considered the highest honor for a Filipino citizen. She also received Fashion Group International’s prestigious Humanitarian Award. “I want to be able to give something back, to make a difference in people’s lives.” To that end, she established facilities in the Philippines to handle 50% of all Natori production.


What began with creating lingerie on her living room floor truly has evolved into a lifestyle. “Natori is a total concept, a way of life,” says Natori. “I just happened to start at the back door with lingerie. Now as the company grows, we grow our sensibility too, taking our concept and making it a whole world. As we say here, Natori is ‘where life meets art’.”

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Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang Photo by GK

Lia Chang Photo by GK

Lia Chang is an actor, a performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia starred as Carole Barbara in Lorey Hayes’ Power Play at the 2013 National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem, N.C., with Pauletta Pearson Washington, Roscoe Orman, and made her jazz vocalist debut in Rome Neal’s Banana Puddin’ Jazz “LADY” at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe in New York. She is profiled in Jade Magazine.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2014 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at liachangpr@gmail.com

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