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As a child, Claire Borel loved playing in her parents' closet. Her mother would talk about traveling and how she wished there was a line that was based around luxury and travel, and those words stuck with Claire. Though she grew up loving fashion, Claire initially chose a career in private equity. But she kept returning to the idea of a career in design, ultimately starting House of Borel, a beautiful —but pricey— lifestyle brand.
Along with Natalie Crane and Charlotte Welch, Claire launched the San Francisco-based luxury line with a focus on the finest materials and construction. "We really believe in true luxury," Claire tells Racked. "We decided that we wanted to take everything to Italy and have it made there. We spent a lot of time traveling and putting it together."
The shapes and details in the collection are inspired by global travel. The team started by thinking about the cities they loved most, and building them into the bag designs. From there, they went on to consider colors, textures, and hardware. The finished pieces incorporate high-end elements like exotic skins and custom precious metal closures. As Charlotte describes it, "The colors are very California, but the materials are luxury."
Though the line was made in Italy, Claire and her team took a hands-on approach to the process. They traveled to Italy five times in the last year as they searched for the right artisans to bring their vision to life. But securing expert craftsman isn't easy. It's not simply a matter of finding someone who can make a bag, but convincing that person to produce the line. (Charlotte jokes, "I spent a lot of time wooing old Italian men.")
The results, however, are worth the effort. House of Borel now has a collection of handbags and clutches in anaconda, crocodile, and ostrich, accented with rose gold and palladium hardware. The finishing touch? A bright blue deerskin suede lining.
The brand debuted last month at New York Fashion Week during the Michael Costello show, and House of Borel officially launches today. Bags —priced at $1500 (for a glasses/card case) to $30,000 (for a Birkin-esque bag with a charming wildcat closure)— will be available online and by appointment. Admittedly, the price point is not accessible for most of us, but that won't stop us from staring at pretty photos. And if you're wondering what House of Borel clothing would look like, you don't have to wait long: the trio will be expanding to apparel this fall.