Carmen Borgonovo is a breath of fresh air. A fashion director for My-Wardrobe.com and an alumna of W and Harper’s Bazaar, the style maven’s approach to fashion is refreshingly straightforward: “I don’t shop like an editor; I don’t go for statement pieces that are recognizable by season. When I buy, I think, will I wear it next season?”
Told you — refreshing. And you haven't even seen her chicest finds, yet. Click along and see the fruits of her shopping labours for yourself. We spent a day with the fashion pro and picked her brain on all things personal style, plus we got her to show off the chicest staples from her killer wardrobe. Life envy, here we come!
Photographed by Eva K. Salvi
Tell us about your role at My-Wardrobe. What do you do?
"My role at My-Wardrobe is fashion director. My mission statement is to bring a well-rounded, strong, curated edit to the site. I want to add in some new, emerging brands, many of which aren’t available online, which are relevant to our site and our customers. I’m overseeing the whole buy and my priority is to fix the buy.."
How did the move come about from being fashion director at Harper's Bazaar to being fashion director at My-Wardrobe?
"I knew everybody at My-Wardrobe. It was a friendly approach. How powerful online fashion is becoming is very interesting to me. And this was a fresh, new challenge for me. My mind is constantly being stimulated here!"
Goat dress, Thakoon trench coat, Aila handbag, and Carven shoes.
Is there any aspect of being a fashion editor at a magazine that you miss?
"No, because I get to freelance. It’s a great complement to what I do now. I’m still stimulating my creative juices at My-Wardrobe, and I’m now designing collections with designers."
What do you love most about your role at My-Wardrobe?
"The highlights have been finding new designers, working with them, and understanding their world and vision through their eyes. Travelling to Milan, Paris, London, and New York is great — that’s where it is happening. Hearing the designers’ inspiration is really fascinating. What is equally fascinating is trying to bring a designer’s vision to a commercial site. Which comes down to the edit — what pieces evoke the vision while still being wearable."
Any pieces you’ve snapped up yourself from the My-Wardrobe AW’13 buy?
"Honestly I’m focusing on the buy and not on myself but I’ve got a list of 20 pieces that I want to buy. There’s an Acne oversize jacket, Lucas Nascimento dress, lots of things by J.W. Anderson, a long velvet Red Valentino dress, and a Vilshenko silk embroidered top. As for shoes, I don’t even know where to start. I’ll have to use my editing talents there. There are too many good ones!"
What items do you predict as being next season’s killer investment buy?
"I would say that this year is a year of separates. A coat is also going to be important. There were so many great options on the runway. But, it has to be a statement coat."
3.1 Phillip Lim jacket, Victoria Beckham top, Balenciaga skirt, 10 Derek Lam clutch and Celine sandals.
Who are your style icons? How have they inspired your own aesthetic?
"I’m not really the type of person who has style icons. I’m interested in women who lead interesting lives, which evoke a beauty from within. I admire the news reporter Christiane Amanpour; she’s incredibly intelligent, strong, and chic. And, I think Tilda Swinton chooses to wear clothes by very interesting designers, which I also like. She exudes that unique feminine strength."
Describe a typical “Carmen” look for us.
"I would say I’m into minimal style. In the winter, I invest in more classic, subdued pieces and for spring, I love to experiment with colour and pattern. I have lots of different jackets in my wardrobe and I’ll always love a strong shoe. When it comes to outfits, I start from the shoe and work my way up. I buy into things which are not recognizable by season. When I buy, I think: 'Will I wear it next season?' It is all about the cut and the fit. I don’t shop like an editor. I don’t go for statement pieces that are recognizable of the season."
You travel pretty much constantly and have a hectic workload — any tips for beating stress?
"A glass of wine at the end of the day! I try to do exercise, but not much — just a run at the gym. I really like to do that. That’s the great thing about running; you can take your trainers and just run. I travel with them. It’s my escape."
Besides My-Wardrobe, where else do you love to shop?
"I love Bluebird
. I’ve always been a fan of the store. I love chatting to Paul and Lianne, the buyers there. I live down the street and got to know them."
Vintage sunglasses, Mother of Pearl top and trousers, Silvia Toledano cuff, Marni tote and Charlotte Olympia shoes.
You’ve worked in NYC — is there anything you miss about the Big Apple?
"I miss the clear skies of New York, whether it was cold or warm. There is something about the energy and enthusiasm of the people in New York, which is intoxicating.
But for me, at this point in my life, London is the city. There is a sense of tranquility which you can’t get anywhere — it’s all the parks and the river. The British are so kind and the cab drivers are so nice. In NYC, you have to put a shield around you."
What do you love about your new London lifestyle?
"I find it a really tranquil city to live in. I work just as hard here as I did in New York, but it’s calmer here. I like the cosmopolitan atmosphere here, too. You see people from all over the world. I love discovering the English countryside — and the proximity to [continental] Europe is great."
Has your style changed at all because of the (slightly crazy) London climate?
"Most definitely. A lot of my summer clothes in New York are now my weekend looks in London. I’m now much more covered up."
What inspires you when you are looking for products and brands to sell on the My-Wardrobe site?
"Sometimes, because of the instinct and eye you have as an editor, you just know when you meet a designer. It depends, but you have to ask yourself lots of questions. There are lots of different things that are considered — starting with style and price point. You have to think if your customer is ready for that designer. It’s an instinct, but you have to think about the business too."
Alice by Temperley top, J Brand jeans, Zara handbag, Isabel Marant shoes.
Carmen works with a charity in Ethiopia and picked up these bangles while on a trip there.
Check out the chain detail on these Isabel Marant beauties!
It's official: Carmen is our new style crush!