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Q&A with Carmen Borgonovo of Borgo de Nor

June 18, 20

Carmen- I’ve known you for 26 years since you interned with me at the now defunct Mirabella magazine! Both you and Joana have had amazing career paths. Tell us about why you started Borgo de Nor.

I can’t believe it’s been 26 years! How time flies! I have to say you haven’t changed one bit  from our Mirabella days. When Joana and I launched the collection, we saw a niche in the market for uplifting print dresses that were luxurious and affordable. We wanted to design a line that made women feel empowered and feminine, and create a brand ethos that focuses on artistic prints and storytelling through our designs.


How are y’all surviving Covid? Are you in London? What’s the mood? How’s life with your littles at home? 

We are both in London and it has certainly been a challenge with the change of schedule and lifestyle (and everything else that is going on in the world), but we have also seen the positives of spending more time with our family and slowing down. We were also fortunate that during lockdown we had the most incredible weather in London, and all the parks were open, which provided us with some respite and a daily escape. Our little ones are great- wild and free as can be- and enjoying not going to school. ;)  


Tell us about Borgo de Nor scrubs! How did that happen? 

This was a project that was very close to our heart . Stylist and Fashion Editor Kendal Boyle (also a very good friend) reached out to us about her amazing Mother Marlene coming out of retirement to join the Dundee District Covid-19 response team alongside 14 other women to help Covid patients. They unfortunately did not have scrubs, and asked if we could help create them. We were delighted to be able to make a difference and it was truly moving to see how much joy the scrubs brought to the nurses and patients. This was truly an example of a community coming together to make a difference. The seamstress in Scotland did everything for free and our beautiful friend Kendal made it all possible, and took the scrubs to her mother's team. We were just grateful and honoured to be a part of it. 


How will COVID-19 change fashion? How will it change your business? 

We think fashion was already changing pre-Covid but this pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement is certainly accelerating the change. Companies are going back to basics and looking within and seeing how they can improve their message whether it's through sustainability, giving back, or creating a workplace that is inclusive. And on the economic front, fashion has sadly been hit hard which is pushing fashion brands to think outside of the box whilst scaling back to stay profitable. For us, Covid-19 has pushed us to make changes that have proven to be quite positive for the business. We are more in touch with who we are and where we want to go and the challenges we have faced have made us more creative, focused, and even more passionate about our brand.


What will women want to wear this summer? And will you travel? I know you are both avid travelers and beach lovers like I am! 

Yes we are definitely beach lovers and love the sun! We both have tentative plans to travel this summer if all continues to improve. Joana will be in Portugal, in Estoril and Comporta, and I will be spending my time in Francia Corta in the north of Italy and Roca Mare in Tuscany.

 We think women are  finding joy in dressing up again and are looking for something uplifting to wear, whether it's through colour or print, or by wearing something more comfortable and easy that makes them feel beautiful.


What is your best source of inspiration now that you have been staying in place these past few months? 

We have been looking at our fashion books in our own libraries at home, and have been doing research on the internet of vintage designs, art, interiors and photography. We were also fortunate that before lockdown, we had already designed our prints for Resort '21 inspired by 17th century floral still-lives from the Dutch Golden Age.


I know your Spring collection was inspired by the Harlem Renaissance. Tell us about that?

We discovered the stunning work of Harlem Renaissance artist and textile designer Lois Mailou Jones during a museum visit in Florida, and from there we delved into the movement and were mesmerized by all the incredible artists, singers, poets, and writers of that time. One of our favourite parts of designing a collection is the research process, and usually most of our collections are tied back or inspired by art and women in history that have broken barriers and inspire us with their work. We hope you find the beauty we saw in this momentous era in our Spring ’20 collection and prints.  


And what about your new collection? 

For Resort 21, we were inspired by our woman and what her lifestyle looks like now and what it might look like in a couple months. We were inspired by the idea of intimacy, entertaining at home, coming together with friends, and creating a mood of relaxed timeless elegance.


Any books, movies, or TV shows to recommend? 

We have been watching Little Fires Everywhere, Normal People, and Becoming the documentary on Michelle Obama. Unfortunately there has been no time for reading these days.


What women inspire you the most? 

Our friends and our mothers are big sources of inspiration for their generous spirits, strength, and passion. They give us the strength to create and inspire us every day. There is nothing more uplifting than sitting down with a female friend and sharing stories and laughing together. And as two female founders of a business, we are inspired by women supporting women. We believe there is nothing greater than creating sisterhoods and supporting each other to succeed and grow.


Have you been bored, busy, or both?

Very very very very busy...but fortunately happy and healthy :)