Electric color and resort-ready prints drew enthusiasm from the audience.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY YASIN CHAUDHRY
Exuberant color? Check. Flowing silhouettes? Check. Glamorous yet ever so accessible? Check. For the sartorially savvy crowd on hand Saturday evening at Fashion Week El Paseo’s second show, Josie Natori Presents an Artisanal Affair, the exotic and irresistible styles just kept on coming.
Fresh on the heels of celebrating 45 years in fashion, Natori’s vibrant collection embraces spring with a spirited enthusiasm so many people share. She showed 120 looks on the runway that felt modern, on trend, and immediately wearable in a wash of electric colors — bright greens, blues, yellows, and pinks that will transition smoothly into summer — and resort-appropriate prints.
A quick succession of ensembles adorned with a print reminiscent of butterfly wings kicked off the evening. Hot pink infused a sleeveless dress that fluttered at the knee; a midriff-baring crop top, jacket, and pants; and a short-sleeve wrap dress sashed firmly at the waist.
Just as quickly, the tones turned to beige and black as a midthigh, slim-fitting shift dress and a strapless knee-length style appeared. Meanwhile, another short sheath accented by hip-slung, chunky chain-link took a simple black dress to new heights. It was one of several styles featuring Maria Clara–inspired sleeves, just one of the many distinctive details of this collection that draws its inspiration from Natori’s homeland in the Philippines.
Yet color could not be subdued for long, and vivid florals soon reappeared, hopscotching across all manner of styles — from elegantly-cinched, one-shoulder sarongs to ensembles with matching Bermuda or full-length pants, bandeau, and jackets. Flowery motifs popped on the black backgrounds of cotton poplin sundresses and tea-length styles, while color literally shouted from geometric prints.
Three distinct white dresses splashed with black brought abstract paintings to mind, as did a couple of later interpretations swirled with bright hues. The colorful art and spirited culture of the Philippines translates ever so easily into the breezy poolside attire so many Greater Palm Springs habitués favor.
The crowd oohed and aahed when a series of calf-length, sleek and silky gowns sashayed into view. Many were solid jewel tones, it’s true, but those with contrasting and complimentary streaks of color were especially arresting. Spaghetti straps were prevalent, but there were plenty of three-quarter-length-sleeve styles to appease a more modest desire as well.
Our desert climate calls for breathable, airy layers, and in that regard, Josie Natori delivers in spades. Cotton, silk and several especially striking appliquéd linen styles graced the runway. The designer interspersed two new materials as well: One known as onsen is made from the natural fibers of cotton plants while another called piña derives from pineapple fibers that are native to the Philippines.
Just when it seemed this Artisanal Affair could hardly be expected to deliver a single more stunning sample, amazingly it did, and the crowd responded in kind. The dizzying array of hand-embroidered caftans that closed the show featured all manner of drape and print and design. There were fine details such as embroidered necklines and sleeve hems, slitted sides, fluttery hemlines, beaded and glittery jeweled accents, and colors representing the breadth of the rainbow.
As the trail of mesmerizing, desirable, and oh-so-wearable designs faded from view and Josie Natori herself came out to take a final bow, it was clear this Artisanal Affair is one attendees will remember as they plan their wardrobes for the warmer months ahead. Many flocked to the pop-up store that followed the show. Guests had an opportunity to see the designs from the runway up close, meet Natori, try pieces on, and purchase their favorites to take home. A second pop-up store takes place today, March 19, from noon to 2:30 p.m. The pop-up store is open to the public and free to attend; no tickets are required.
Fashion Week El Paseo continues through March 23 at The Gardens on El Paseo in Palm Desert. Project Runway alum Michael Costello will take the stage tonight, March 19, with a cocktail reception beginning at 7 p.m. and runway extravaganza at 8 p.m.
For tickets and the full schedule of runway shows, pop-up-stores, and special events, visit fashionweekelpaseo.com.