ON A HIGH NOTE: Music is a welcome escape for many self-quarantined people, so Josie Natori has taken to Instagram Live to share her piano playing.
While Andrea Bocelli’s YouTube concert on Easter at the Duomo in Milan reeled in millions of real-time viewers, Natori takes a more intimate approach. Thursday night’s concert was the third consecutive week the designer has performed on Instagram. “At first, I felt very strange just playing there. It was not very professional. It was my housekeeper with my iPhone. But I have a very good person that was communicating good instructions…I am the least tech-y person. Instagram Stories wasn’t something that I was really engrained with.”
Natori’s son Kenneth Jr., who works at the company, suggested she perform on Instagram. The first two concerts were on the company’s Instagram and this week’s was on her personal Instagram. More than anything the concerts are a way to connect with friends, some of whom have attended her dinner parties in New York and Paris that end with her playing a few songs on the piano.
“Music allows me to communicate in a different way. And thank God. It’s another diversion because I’m constantly on Zoom, telephone calls, conference calls and texting. I am so addicted to my iPhone I check out e-com sales every hour on the hour,” Natori said. “It’s been a different way of working. You never thought this day would come, but you adjust.”
Natori said that her mother, another pianist, forced her to learn to play as a child. Her musical studies started at the age of four, she added recitals to her repertoire in the two years that followed and she did her first concert with an orchestra at the age of nine. Natori’s last concert was at the age of 50 at Carnegie Hall.
”I’m probably happiest at the piano. In fact, being a musician helps being in the business that I’m in. You’re never content, right? You never play the same note twice. The musician in me has made me stay this long — for 43 years. You keep getting better. You never perfect it. There is always something that you can play in a different way, even if it is the same notes,” she said.
Two weeks ago, her company had to furlough about 30 percent of its work force, due largely to canceled orders. “What all the stores are doing is just the reality, but you just have to be hopeful,” Natori said.
She continued, “My father always said, ‘With every crisis, you either look at it as a tragedy or as an opportunity.’ As a company today, you have to reassess, roboot, restructure — the whole nine yards.”
The designer has also been trying to do her part with PPE relief efforts, by using the company’s factory in the Philippines to make masks. The brand’s social media has special offers for health-care workers.
Natori’s online sales have seen “quite big increases, because people need to treat themselves. Our kind of dressing is very relevant because you’re not having to wear cocktail dresses or evening gowns,” she said.
After years of pushing stylish loungewear and sportswear that is not only comfortable but it makes the wearer feel good, Natori said that is finally resonating with people. She said, ”The whole category of loungewear is going to continue, as people are finding ways to work from home. That’s going to be going on for a while. That’s not something that’s going to stop. But it doesn’t mean you have to be sloppy with a sweatshirt.”