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Real Estate / Home + Design

The Anti-Amazon?

Globetrotting Photog and Uber Stylist Opens a Very Different Online Store That Brings the World to Your Door

BY // 03.01.16

Photographer, stylist and artist’s rep Gisela Borghi makes a living pulling together fabulous looks for the camera. Friends and clients — many of them models, photographers and art directors — have for years admired her ability to unearth singularly beautiful fashion accessories and objects for home. “People would always say, ‘I love those shoes, or that handbag, where did you get it?’ and it would be something I bought 15 years ago in a town somewhere in Italy or Argentina by some artist, and they have lasted all these years,” says Borghi, in perfect English tinged with an accent that belies her globetrotting roots.

Born in Argentina, she grew up in Italy and lived in London before moving to Dallas in early 2000 to follow her heart. (She’s married to Dallas-based landscape architect David Hocker, whom she met in Italy, where he was studying for a semester.) In November, Borghi turned her knack for sourcing one-of-a-kind handmade things into an online store, Ora et Labora, which features a minimalist collection of handmade clothing, fashion and home accessories from artisans in Italy and Argentina.

“It’s a collection made by artisans from my home lands, where they are still using old techniques,” she says. “It’s a way of keeping the traditions alive.”

Gisela Borghi (Photo by Mindy Byrd for The Photo Division)
Gisela Borghi (Photo by Mindy Byrd for The Photo Division)

Whether they work in leather, textiles, bronze, ceramics or marble, the artists Borghi features are all people she has met along the way and befriended. “I led a very Bohemian life,” says Borghi, who convinced her parents to let her move to London alone at age 18 to learn English. “The name Ora et Labora in Latin means ‘pray and work.’ The things I sell are mentally, spiritually and physically the fruit of one’s labor.”

Look for blankets woven in Argentina from llama hair and lamb’s wool, ($285); leather clutches and handbags crafted in Italy ($240 to $550); rings, pins and bracelets handcrafted in Italy from solid bronze and natural stones ($15 to $125); glazed ceramic trays from Argentina ($15); Carrera marble bowls from Tuscany ($60); and clothing, scarves and other accessories in cotton, silk, leather and sheepskin from Argentina ($165 to $535).

Borghi hand-selects everything on her site, and like her own black-and-white photography and penchant for minimalist styling, there’s not a lot of color.

Holiday Gifting

  • Mariquite Masterson
  • Bond No 9 - Perfume
  • Museum of Fine Arts Houston
  • Elaine Turner - GiGi Flats
  • Cle Du Peau - Nail Polish
  • Mariquite Masterson
  • Oscar De La Renta - Clutch
  • Bond No 9 - Candle
  • Asher Gallery
  • Loeffler Randall - Clutch
  • Cotton Club
  • Elaine Turner - Felicia Stole in Magenta
  • Cotton Club
  • Cle Du Peau - Lip Gloss
  • Wayne Smith
  • Loeffler Randall - Shoes
  • Wayne Smith
  • Oscar De La Renta - Earrings

“People tell me I’m crazy because there’s no color, but it works very well,” she says. “My color palette is always black, white, gray and a little blue. But the common thing among everything I pick is the raw, pure materials. Everything is simple and graphic. Nothing is too refined.”

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