Flores de Mayo fashion by Josie Natori

The colors of May. Photos by Elton Lugay

By Elton Lugay

After a 35-year reign in high-end fashion, Josie Natori is returning to her Philippine roots for inspiration. Paradise Wear, her peek into spring 2013, brings Flores de Mayo’s free- flowing flamboyance to New York.

“It’s about time,” Josie told The FilAm.

The collection is modern, almost unrecognizably Filipino, except for the all-whites with intricate embroidery the Natori label is known for. Josie created her niche in lingerie in the 1970s when she began supplying sleepwear to Bloomingdale’s.

Josie’s vision as she and her research team were conceptualizing her line led them to images of the Pintados or the heavily painted people of Central Philippines. Their tattoos represent “courage and beauty and are thought to have magical qualities,” she said. The trademark embroideries are reminiscent of the parade of street dancers and all their vibrant body decorations, she added.

The flashy colors come from the Flores de Mayo, one of Josie’s favorite festivals. “The events surrounding this festival are bursting with vivid colors, exotic flowers, and a sense of celebration and renewal that I hoped to capture with this collection.”

“Excited ako,” Josie further explained to The FilAm, “because (my collection) reflects the happiness of the Philippine spirit.”

Natori’s production had models standing still like mannequins. No runway this year, said Josie’s son Kenneth.

“We always believe in a free-flowing presentation,” he explained. “We want people to be able to spend time consuming the looks and walking around casually. This is a better format.”

The Philippines “is very important to us,” said Kenneth, who heads the e-commerce, finance and marketing of the Natori Company. “We think one of our biggest advantages as a company is that we have our own manufacturing facility there where we do a lot of our manufacturing and a lot of high-end embroidery, embellishments.”

Lawyer Ma. Romela Mosqueda Bengzon, an avid fan who planed in from Manila for the show, said one piece stood out in the collection.

“Her use of leather at springtime is genius,” she told The FilAm. “The color so makes the leather look softer.”

It’s a case of seeing traditions with new eyes. Or as Josie expressed it, “taking the vision in my memories and giving them contemporary relevance.”

Josie Natori

Styling—Annabel Tollman
Makeup—Ai Nieda for Shiseido
Hair—Tadashi Harada for Shiseido
Shoes—Jacques Levine for Josie Natori
All accessories and handbags by Josie Natori

All dressed in white

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