Josie Natori: Woman of Style and Substance

Josie Natori built a business on sleek and sumptuous sleepwear and lingerie. Her new collection of separates is just as delicious.
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This winter Natori is launching her first ready-to-wear collection, exclusively available at Saks Fifth Avenue stores nationwide. The clothes are an extension of the sleepwear that made Natori famous, and emblematic of Natori’s personal style philosophy: sleek silhouettes, shots of color against black basics, and bold accessories. Most of all, Natori embraces simplicity. "I always think about how I can make a woman’s life easier for her. I laugh because I’ll say to my design team, ‘How can a woman wear this and fry eggs?’"

Lasting Look

"Black and white are an essential part of a woman’s uniform, but color is great because it gives life." Natori insists that fiery hues (red, yellow, orange) are flattering on most and best worn on top to project a warm glow. Natori fondly remembers buying two dresses — one red and one yellow — at the tender age of 18 while studying in Paris. "Maybe that’s why I gravitate to those colors," she says now, laughing. (Daunted at the thought of wearing brights? Try one pop of color at a time, even if it’s just in a sky-high heel.)

Clamor for Color

Cotton-modal blend V-neck sweater; $250; Saks Fifth Avenue, 866-478-7586

If the Shoe Fits

Jimmy Choo eel-skin heels; $660, for stores

Bolder Is Better

Natori says women over 40 are at the right point in their lives to wear statement accessories, and "feel the confidence" to do it. No matter what your size, says the designer, bold is always better (and if it’s shiny, best of all). She cautions against overdoing it, though, and encourages women to get fully dressed and then take a long look in a mirror. "One big piece is great, maybe a big ring and earrings, but nothing else. If you look like a Christmas tree, you’ve gone too far."

R.J. Graziano gold-plated stretch bracelet; $65, 212-685-1248

Chic Details

Lodis crocodile-embossed clutch; $172,

Statement Earrings

Kara by Kara Ross 18k gold-plated brass earrings; $115,

Asian Inspiration

The Eastern influence in her clothes is everywhere, Natori admits, from her penchant for wide sleeves — wonderfully forgiving — to her near-ubiquitous use of luxurious silk-satin. What she’s reaching for, she says, is the inherent "sensibility for feeling comfortable" that she sees in Asian design. Most of all, Natori asserts, her clothes invite women to play with proportion, a tactic that she feels is perfect for over-40 frames. How-to: Balance a cropped top over a longer bottom, or vice versa. "We do a lot of tunics for that reason," she says. "Short or long, belted or not, they flatter everyone."

Natorious silk cowlneck top ($295), crepe skirt ($395), and wide silk belt ($495); all available at Saks Fifth Avenue, 866-478-7586

Comfort Zone

Natori recognizes that today’s women want easy dressing. "In the 1980s it was all about power suits," she says. "Today, women can wear anything." For Natori, the simpler the shape, the better, so that the clothes create a clean backdrop for jewelry and accessories. To that end, her line includes lots of solids in wearable shapes: pants (either wide-legged or tapered to the ankle), flared skirts, cropped kimono jackets, and cowlnecks (they add interest but are uncomplicated). The pieces are easy to mix and match. "Versatility is the key," Natori says.

Natorious crepe kimono top ($495), Saks Fifth Avenue, 866-478-7586

Embrace Simplicity

Christian Louboutin suede pumps; $660; Bergdorf Goodman, 800-558-1855

Easy Elegance

Silk cowlneck top; $195, Saks Fifth Avenue, 866-478-7586

Originally published in MORE magazine, November 2008.

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