Lapham’s Quarterly ~ from text to life… at Starline Social Club, West Oakland

“What you wear is how you present yourself to the world,
especially today, when human contacts are so quick.
Fashion is instant language.”
~ Miuccia Prada


Clothes have been my world, formally for the past 15 years as cari borja/clothesmaker, more informally for my whole life ~ since I was photographed daily in the mostly hand made threads my mother put on me ~ some she made, some made by others ~ loved ones from near and far. A communion dress created by my grandmother out of my mom’s wedding gown ~ by those same hands that made our weekly ricotta gnocchi, thumb-printed with her presence. Clothes transmit as much of the maker as the wearer. They have that magical power of transformation ~ made with the idea of movement, flexibility, a punctum of wonder, a slight touch of femininity that sexily insinuates all that is hidden from the eye.

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Above ~ me: in 70s retro wear; my communion dress with Grammy Gladys and Papa Michael Iannacone, and at the age of 10, in one of my favorite skating outfits.


From Shedding Skins to Baby Royal, collaborations with Artful Gentleman (aka JAKE), SNOW, collections inspired by My Fair Lady, Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief, collections shot by Jock McDonald in Cuba, Claudia Goetzelmann in Woodside, and Kelly Puleio in hand around San Francisco… The breadth of the collections, their juxtaposition with where I am now, my body, my mind, my emotions ~ parallels all that is conceptualized, then materialized. These pieces in many ways reflect a moment in time, a way of thinking, feeling, a sense of being in and of the world.

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Above ~ Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus, Shedding Skins shoot (2000) by Lloyd Bernberg, with Britt Dionne and Camalo Gaskin and an inspiration for the Sappho gowns.


So when I was asked to help with the “bringing to life” of the beautiful, thought-provoking FASHION edition of the iconic Lapham’s Quarterly that juxtaposes decades with centuries of the visual and textual production of the written word ~ I was in. And, it’s happening THIS Saturday… Below are the details, a collage of  the context, the inspiration, and some little pieces of moments that are happening throughout the evening. Hope to see you there …


THIS Saturday, November 14th, 8-11pm
at Starline Social Club and Ballroom (with a special menu created by Austin Holey)
645 West Grand Ave. Oakland, CA

WATCH the Italian Futurists, Angela Carter, Coco Chanel, David Bowie, Bobbito Garcia, and Sappho bring to life the art and literature of fashion. JOIN Elizabeth Bishop, Mark Twain, Virginia Woolf, Franz Kafka, and Clarice Lispector as they create tableaux vivants, moving images, and poses plastiques from the history of clothing, manners, and style. MEET the Brothers Grimm, John Waters, Hera, Aphrodite, and Homer in costume and on the runway. DRESS UP in something based on one of the readings or images from the “Fashion” issue of Lapham’s Quarterly. RESERVE a booth for dinner or a cocktail table now for this unforgettable, one-night-only Schönheitsabend (“evening of beauty”). Availability is extremely limited.
Doors open at 7:30pm; performance commences promptly at 8pm.
Click HERE for your FREE tix to the event (or you can reserve a runway table for $100 for 4/with a bottle of prosecco)

Call me with questions ~ 510.915.1312

“A person who sees only fashion in fashion is a fool.” —Honoré de Balzac, 1830


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Above ~ Kimberly Rosselle and AC Carlsbad in Artful Gentleman and cari borja (photo: Kelly Puleio); Coco Chanel. Hasmik in cari borja (photo: Rico Schwartzberg)


“Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street,
fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.” ~ coco chanel


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Above ~ Mark Twain. Artful Gentleman and cari borja in a Legion of Honor photoshoot by Kelly Puleio. Franz Kafka.


“I suppose everyone is wondering why I am wearing such apparently unseasonable clothes.
I’ll tell you. This white flannel suit is a uniform.” ~ Mark Twain


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Above ~ maternity, Baby Royal, Royal Collection, and the Saffron Barbie Collection, for Jeff Ingram and Stuart Locklear’s SAFFRON film.


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Above ~ Claudia Goetzelmann photo shoot with Lija Kukle. David Bowie.


“Velvet is back, skin anti-skin, mimic nakedness.
Like leather and suede, only more subtly,
velvet simulates the flesh it conceals, a profoundly tactile fabric.
Last winter’s satin invited the stroke, a slithering touch,
this winter’s velvet invites a more sinuous caress.
But the women who buy little brown velvet dresses
will probably do so in a state of unknowing,
unaware they’re dressing up for parts in our daily theater of fact; unaware, too, how mysterious that theater is.
For the nature of apparel is very complex.
Clothes are so many things at once…

Clothes are our weapons, our challenges, our visible insults.”
~ Angela Carter


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Above ~ Grimm Brothers, Legion of Honor photoshoot by Kelly Puleio, with Artful Gentleman. John Waters.


“You don’t need fashion designers when you are young. Have faith in your own bad taste. Buy the cheapest thing in your local thrift shop—the clothes that are freshly out of style with even the hippest people a few years older than you. Get on the fashion nerves of your peers, not your parents—that is the key to fashion leadership. Ill-fitting is always stylish. But be more creative—wear your clothes inside out, backward, upside down.” ~ John Waters


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Above ~ Racheal Matthews and Ashley McKinley, photo by Heike Liss, 4th Street Berkeley. Unbearable Lightness of Being art installation for Deb Durant’s 50/50 Light. Claudia Gotzelmann photo shoot.


“There is much to support the view that it is clothes that wear us and not we them; we may make them take the mold of arm or breast,
but they mold our hearts, our brains, our tongues to their liking.” ~ Virginia Woolf, Orlando.


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Above ~ Still from Sally Potter’s Orlando, inspiration book and cut-outs for BLACK runway show. With Shaye McKenney and Filiz Caglayan. Margarita at Djerassi Ranch in cari borja “My Fair Lady” Collection, photographed by Claudia Goetzelmann. Jake Wall, Kimberly Roselle and I. Still of Tilda Swinton in Sally Potter’s Orlando.


“In the particular case of Orlando herself, this mixture of man and woman—
one being uppermost and then the other—often gave her conduct an unexpected turn.” ~ Virginia Woolf, Orlando


Created and directed by Cari Borja, Timothy Don, Adam Hatch, Alex Stavrakas, Sam White.

With Casting director and Associate Producer Deb Fink.

Chef Austin Foley creating a special menu for the evening.

Production Manager Hilary Flood.

And Cherie Porter as the Fashion Oracle.


Performers ~

Galen Rogers and Anya Rome as the Italian Futurists, Elizabeth Benedict as Elizabeth bishop, Julian Lopez-Gorillas as Mark Twain.
Cari Borja (voice), Deb Fink and Frieda de Lackner as Angela Carter, Mark Petrakis as one of the Brothers Grimm. Deb Fink (voice),
Candice Holdorf and Adam Gordon as Virginia Woolf, Jordan Winer as John Waters, Susan Monson as Coco Chanel,
Henry di Giovanni as Kafka, Amy Mansfield Weinberg (with Scott Ruthrauff on guitar) as David Bowie. 
Mark Petrakis as Homer, with dancers Frankie Peterson and William Fowler;
Desiree Cannon Wattis as Rufus Wainwright; Candice Holdorf, Deb Fink and Frieda de Lackner as Sappho.

Wardrobe Assistant ~ Racheal Matthews, Wardrobe Research/thank you ~ Jonathan Fogel
Clothing provided by cari borja/clothesmaker and suits by JAKE
Hair and Make-up ~ Dwight Davis and Norma Avalos of Davis Saiz Salon, Oakland.

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Above ~ Jock McDonald photoshoot in Cuba, with Ania Altit in cari borja, August 2015 Cover Feature by Tony Bravo, with hair/ make-up by Davis Saiz Salon, Fairy Tales, re-imagined by Angela Carter,


“Fashion lives only in a perpetual round of giddy innovation and restless vanity…
it is haughty, trifling, affected, servile, despotic, mean and ambitious,
precise and fantastical, all in a breath.” ~ William Hazlitt

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Above ~ making Bowie’s kimono… Lapham Quarterly’s FOOD and FASHION editions, rehearsal of the Sappho’s ~ with Deb, Frieda and Candice.


“Give ’em what they never knew they wanted.” ~ Diana Vreeland




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