Shedding Light on Cari Borja, clothing designer

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cari blog shot

Cari Borja has been in the business of making spectacular outfits since 2000.

In 2006 we became friends when I was in need of a very special piece for a big jewelry opening, and I commissioned her to make something.

In addition to a beautiful jacket, a beautiful friendship ensued. Here are a few snippets from a recent conversation;

Where did you start out in life?

I was born in an Army hospital in Shirley, MA… but I was conceived in Oahu!

What’s your first light memory?

Roller-skating. The disco ball and laser shows, the shadows. Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker’s light saber. And strangely that all came together at Roll-On-America in Leominster, Massachusetts.

Light has always been about reflections mirrored, illuminated and refracted. Whether it was the rhinestones on my roller-skating outfits refracted in someone’s face, the broken glass of the disco ball at the roller-rink during couples skate, illuminating those going by, or the glass windows of the skate shop that reflected the state of your hair during practice sessions… all of this, dependent on light and its rays.

You’re a designer – what do you remember as the first project you ever built?

The first art project memory I have is of a nativity scene collection I built when I was about 7 or 8 years old. There were very elaborate painted details on the folds of the garments and the faces of the children playing their parts…

Tell us a little about your philosophy and your work background.

Thinking about art, before vs after children, the importance of practicality – my mantra = DO MORE, BE MORE, DO/BE…

The biggest fear is losing your memory – recognizing the importance of doing with your own hands to help retain memory before it fades. It makes me think of the Kierkegaard quote:

Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.

I think about the way we layer memory and the importance of documentation, and the necessity of circling back around. 

What’s the most fun part of what you do?

Hmm… I think of that Twyla Tharp quote that has to do with the everyday… which is especially true right now with developing my FashionFilmFood blog, but for sure in my clothes over the past decade…

Everything is raw material. Everything is relevant. Everything is usable. Everything feeds into my creativity. But without proper preparation, I cannot see it, retain it, use it.

~ Twyla Tharp

Inspirations?

[Mariano] Fortuny. Madeleine Vionnet. [her daughter] Royal! I learned a lot about color dressing Royal, via Baby Gap. Baby Gap was really the first with the fabulous sensibility of particular color combinations. That inspired me – especially for adults – those combinations had really only been used for kiddos until then.

What influences you most?

My influences are structurally organic. Punctum – the element within a photo that makes it *ART* rather than mere documentation… The infinite possibilities of reading, unlimited options available – which one to choose? – possibilities and unknowingness.

Thoughts on your business, describe Cari Borja in 2020.

Focused, traveling, doing everything that I love, with intervals of elsewhere… and books written, collections made, salon dinners around the world. 

Be sure to check out Cari’s fabulous new blog FashionFilmFood to read about all of her latest adventures!

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