Thanks to a little bit of luck and immeasurable talent and drive, Maria Borges has had a fairytale-esque rise in the fashion world. It all began a decade ago when she sought out modelling as a means to help support her family in her home country of Angola. After finding success in a local modeling competition back home, she risked it all to move to New York and follow her dreams of modeling full-time. Not only did it work out for her, but she booked a record 17 NYFW shows upon her arrival in the city. From there, she became a Givenchy exclusive in her second season and caught the eye of then-Givenchy creative director, Riccardo Tisci. With a stunning high fashion look, she was an instant muse for him—and the adoration is mutual, as she even refers to Tisci as her godfather. With someone like Tisci in her corner, it’s no surprise she took off and became the globally renowned supermodel she is today.
Of all of the glittering moments to dot Borges’ career, she’s most proud of walking in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. Not only did that moment help open doors for women to proudly wear their natural hair after she was the first to sport a short, natural afro on the VS runway, but she also got to play dress up in a truly bedazzled, rainbow-bright ensemble. The other diamond moment that makes her light up is her 2019 appearance at the 72nd Annual Cannes Film Festival. She arrived at the Chopard party in an intricate diamond collar necklace and matching drop earrings set in a floral design, and later on the red carpet in titanium Chopard earrings featuring a whopping 94 carats of imperial topaz and stunning diamond cluster rings.
When Borges isn’t wearing jaw-dropping diamonds on the red carpet, she opts for deeply personal pieces like the gift she received from her best friend—a rectangular onyx necklace surrounded by an outline of subtle but beautiful diamonds. “When I wear diamonds, I feel like a million-dollar girl,” Borges said. “It makes you carry yourself well because it’s very valuable, and you feel expensive inside and out.”
Borges notes her success wasn’t without its challenges, saying, “I hope other girls in my home country and all the Black women around the globe can see me as an example. That would make all of the struggles worth it.”
Want more diamonds? Continue watching this episode of Diamond Diaries for more on Borges’ story and the special pieces that define her personal diamond collection.