Josie Natori is back in the Philippines for her 45th anniversary celebration and for upcoming projects.
“There’s constantly a new conversation, a new challenge, and a new situation that we find ourselves in,” says Josie Natori. Togetherness, innovation, and community are concepts that underly Natori’s lingerie, sleepwear, and ready-to-wear collections. From highlighting Filipino craftsmanship to working alongside like-minded creatives to achieve a common goal, Josie Natori shines a spotlight on the beauty of collaboration. For almost two decades, Natori has had a close confidant as she continues to navigate through her career. Dating back to 2003, creative director Andrew Egan has always been by her side.
“[In] the last twenty years, so much has happened [with] the evolution of the brand [and] Andrew has been through [it] all,” Natori tells Vogue Philippines. From pamphlets and catalogues to coordinating the social media and e-commerce, Egan has always been in charge of “visual policing” and making sure everything is true to the brand’s vision.
Egan is at the helm of CoolGraySeven, a branding and advertising agency that “provides creative direction for fashion, lifestyle and luxury brands” according to their website. “Although he has his own agency, he’s in the family,” Natori mentions. Together, Natori and Egan have become the meaningful storytellers behind The House of Natori.
Founded in 1977, the family-owned label is known for their luxurious intimates and loungewear with their East-meets-West aesthetic. From kimonos to scarves, sumptuous fabrics like silk and velvet are paired with signature handcrafted embroidery and a distinctly Asian panache.
For the label’s creative process, Natori and Egan constantly bounce ideas off each other in a “language of their own”—even “interpreting each other’s thoughts” in a way only the two of them can understand. Throughout the conversation with Vogue Philippines, the pair laughs and recounts their countless memories together with whirring energy. Their fondest memory was an intimate ready-to-wear presentation at Natori’s apartment previewing a pre-pandemic collection that was never released. Previously a classical pianist for the Manila Philharmonic Orchestra, the acclaimed designer had always been drawn to the arts and music. Two grand pianos faced each other as models weaved their way around the room. “It was a combination of sensualities—classic-modern [and] East-West,” says Egan. He asserts that it was their combination of “interests and tastes that fed the show.” “We’re joined at the hip,” continues Natori. From conceptualization to execution, Egan has the last say within the company. From the packaging to the website, he’s Natori’s “constant partner” in ensuring there’s integrity in every aspect of the company. She remarks, “To me, the aspiration is the most important part [of the business]. In a way, Andrew [has] pushed that throughout the years.”
With their upcoming collections in sight, Natori wants to begin a new chapter for 2024. Throughout her collections, Natori’s Philippine heritage has been central to her brand’s distinct character. Always in the hopes of innovating and reimagining, the pair are “always pushing envelope and always moving.” Natori asserts, “Natori wouldn’t be around 45 years later if we didn’t change.” With Egan by her side, the label offers “something new” because creatively and visually they share the same vision, philosophies, and work ethic. She continues, “To me, I’m very proud of [my Philippine heritage] and I want to be able to scream it out in more ways than one.” From visiting the artisans to seeing the inspiration behind particular pieces, Egan visited Natori’s home and all the places that make the narrative behind Natori so inherently Filipino. Natori expresses, “Without the Philippines, there would be no Natori.”
Raving about Natori’s taste and inclinations Egan says, “I’ve been fortunate enough and so close to seeing [it] first-hand [from] interiors, store design, fashion collections, her life, her home, and the things she surrounds herself in.” Honesty and trust have always been core components of their friendship. Natori continues, “For me, the trust is very special. When you work this hard [for a] company, you want someone who appreciates it as much as you do.” Referring to him as her “biggest PR person,” it’s evident that their collaboration stands for more than just fashion. It’s a long-lasting friendship rooted in dependability and common values. It’s said that the best mirror is an old friend and their creative collaboration is without a doubt proof of this.
Natori exclaims, “I think we’re both musicians in a way. I always say never play the same note twice and he [has] the same mentality.”
Photography: Andrew Egan, Sittings Editor: Daryl Chang, Makeup: Don de Jesus, Hair: Mong Amado, Producer: Anz Hizon, Stylist’s Assistant: Ticia Almazan