Sitting at her desk, surrounded by her mannequin, sewing machine, tape measure, thread and pins, “Fundamentals of Corporate Finance” pushed aside, Jillian Borde skims her fingers across the pages of “Vogue Best Dressed Special Edition” eyeing the chosen people featured in its pages.
She stops at a picture of Jessica Biel wearing a gold Ralph Lauren gown.
“I’ve always admired Ralph Lauren and his work, the way he mixes well tailored things,” she said.
Borde, a third-year business and public relations major at SUNY New Paltz, has a passion for designing and creating clothes. She has been known to present her designs in shows and wear them as well.
Borde views the fashion world as unpredictable, but in her experience she tries to remain true to herself.
Borde was born in Brooklyn, but moved to Valley Stream, Long Island when she was very young. Due to the demanding medical careers of her parents, she was raised by her grandparents who were immigrants from Trinidad. Her interest in fashion was sparked by a stitch when her grandmother introduced her to sewing at age seven.
It was at SUNY New Paltz that Borde began to pursue her interest in design. She heard about Envied Fashions—an on-campus group that holds fashion shows in the fall at SUNY New Paltz.
The show is put on by students, but people from the surrounding areas also show their collections.
After showing her designs, Borde has had inquiries from people who want to buy her clothes, but right now she is not selling.
“You spend so much time making the clothes and perfecting them, you don’t want to never see them again,” she said, laughing. “I definitely get attached.”
Borde pulls her inspiration from everywhere, but her Trinidadian background has definitely had an influence on her designs which are colorful, floral and consist of what Borde calls “easy fabrics,” like chiffon.
She likes to take fashion risks and try new things with her own personal style as well as with her designs. Borde donates a lot of her clothes to Boys and Girls of America and Salvation Army after she is done experimenting with them.
“I don’t keep clothes I don’t wear,” she said. “I can barely close my closet door as it is.”
Now that she is 20 years old, Borde is trying to develop a professional mindset when it comes to her clothes, and make some semi-permanent additions to her wardrobe that she will still be wearing in five years.
Still, she hasn’t shaken her love for the edgy, having admiration for designers like Betsey Johnson who aren’t afraid to take fashion to the next level.
“I design for a party girl, which I think might change as I get older,” she said. “I like a mix of girly and edgy things. So I’ll put frills with leather or something weird.”
Even so, she doubts her fashion choices sometimes – more so with what she wears than with what she designs. She tends to dress up for most occasions.
“I do get crazy about what I wear; I know I’m too critical sometimes,” Borde says. “I never wear sweatpants, not even to the gym.”
Maybe in the future she will sell some, but for now she is just having fun with it and trying to learn as much as she can.
“One of the most important things I’ve learned is that fashion is calculated like math,” said Borde. “It’s all about shapes and proportions.”
Borde fusses with a sand-colored garment on the mannequin in her cramped dorm room. She looks like the typical budding designer. However, she differs from other designers in her creative process.
“I don’t even sketch because I change all my designs,” she said. “I pull ideas from my head. I can’t describe it. It is not something someone else could look at. It’s only something I can see.”