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Josie Natori: Concertos and Collecting

The designer reflects on two of her favorite pastimes.

Photo by Masato Onoda for WWD

Most know her as a self-made Filipina businesswoman-turned-designer specializing in lingerie and sleepwear, but Josie Natori insists she’s “a musician number one in my soul.”

Natori, who turned 70 in May, started taking piano lessons at her mother’s request when she was age 4. “In the Philippines, it is a given that every child plays an instrument, no matter from what walk of life,” she says. “It’s not even a choice. You just do it.”

At age nine, she played her first concert, and by 50, she had become so devoted to piano that she destroyed a wall in her Manhattan apartment so her Steinway could be hoisted out of it and into Carnegie Hall. There, at the prestigious music venue, Natori gave the performance of her life.

“It is a highlight,” she recalls of her 50th birthday concert at Carnegie. “The Nineties were a very difficult decade in the business. In the Eighties, I couldn’t do anything wrong, and in the Nineties, I couldn’t do anything right. The only thing I did right was this concert.” It was, she says, a gift to herself — one that 2,800 people watched her unwrap.

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