Explaining further, the always elegant Natori—wearing a simple black jersey dress of her own design and black spiked heels with lizard trim—heads toward what she calls her archive, rather than her collection. “I’ve always had an appreciation for the past, especially things from the East,” Natori says. Deciding that the Natori Company would reproduce “some version of a museum piece at an affordable price” gave her license to shop. Once, in Kyoto, Japan, in the late 1970s, she says, “I swooped up every kimono I could see in antique shops there. I must have bought 25 pieces—kimonos and obis—from the 19th and early 20th centuries. They became an inspiration for me in prints and design.”
Today, her archive contains specimens from Morocco, Turkey, Japan, China, India, Pakistan, England, France, Italy, Spain, Africa, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Persia, and other countries—except those in North and South America. “It’s all the old civilizations, where there was such care taken for intricate work,” she says. What was made then in the Americas is not her aesthetic. “I do have a few things from Mexico, Ecuador, Central America by accident,” she says, but she bought them mostly in Europe.