Few of her textiles have provenance, and she can’t even date them, except to say that they come mostly from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. "And don’t ask me about weaving and that stuff," she commands. "For me, it’s all about the design." When she buys something, it’s because she has an "instant" visceral reaction to the shape, the colors, the figures, the design, the tassels—in other words, the visuals. "I don’t care how old it is, really," she says. "If it pleases me, I buy it." What all of them generally have, she says, are "embellishments. I am attracted by exotic stuff."
At first, Natori hung her purchases in her workplace and stored them in boxes. As the collection grew, she got more organized: Every piece is registered, numbered, and photographed, with these information sheets slipped into binders—of which she has many. "I use them constantly, for shapes, colors, designs," she says. (More recently, the items have been uploaded into a database that her employees can easily access.)
Natori pulls out a binder and points to a red Chinese silk with a Buddha theme. "That became an inspiration for pajamas," she says. "We relentlessly duplicated it, in different colored backgrounds—red, black, pink, beige. They sold for 10 years, and we’re bringing it back again."