Ports 1961 – Global gorgeousness

by Katie on March 20, 2010


For a Canadian/New York hybrid label, Ports 1961 cocks a snoop at clean American sportswear and instead stands alone as a sophisticated education on how to combine design, function and texture and leave the modern woman wanting more. And they do. Clients already include Olivia Palermo, Sienna Miller and Debra Messing.

Since it’s re-launch in 2004, Ports 1961 has come a long way. Originally founded in 1961 by the late Luke Tanabe, Ports 1961 is pure luxury, ready to wear for the modern global woman. Vancouver-bred creative director, Tia Cibani, re-launched Ports 1961 as a thinking woman’s wardrobe…an array of beautiful tactile wearable pieces for the global soul. Cibani takes her multi cultural approach to design fusing intelligence with beautiful practicality. Elegance meets everyday needs. 

And that is exactly the edge for the A/W ’10 collection that comprises attention to detail, modern styling, clashes of fabric and texture, combined with daring styling – Shimmering gold shifts are styled with long leather gloves, rippling chocolate silk dresses fold and tuck combined with swathed wool textured wrap coats that hang with architectural asymmetric lines. Or, a long diaphanous, chiffon crepe layered shift is paired with a beautiful black leather jacket for a harder take on evening dressing.


The feel is uber confident, probably too confident (for A/W ’10) for an American market who prefer to play it safe with simple sheath dresses and various tones of beige with a smattering of toffee. Tia’s work is beautifully European in feel – daring yet wearable with texture combinations and fluid lines that knocks street fashion on it’s backside. The intelligence in design and attention to detail is reminiscent of ’80s icons like Romeo Gigli, Martine Sitbon and Sybilla. The Ports 1961 collections should really be photographed by the boldly ethereal Javier Vallhonrat to do them justice and save them for fashion art posterity.

These clothes are art pieces that are wearable, architectured for the wearer to live and breathe in without being over bearing. In fact, the designer plays great emphasis on the importance of architecture, employing Dutch born but New York based architect, Winka Dubbeldam, to design the layout of her stores and concessions. Dubbeldam is also presently working on Tia’s NYC town house which is certain to be a show piece of global taste and refinement.

When I met Tia Cibani at the recent launch of the Harvey Nichols Ports 1961 concession, she enthused about her customer: “She doesn’t belong to any age but it’s her lifestyle that is central to her being. She’s confident, eclectic and global…not intimated by dressing as a statement. She loves modern day living and convenience but doesn’t want to compromise on detail. Ultimately, she’s a confident personality who loves ‘treasures'”.

I asked Ms Cibani the main difference between her NYC customer and her London counterpart. It appears that the London ‘global woman’ is much more willing to take risks as the statement pieces are selling out, unlike in New York, where a simpler, easier take is preferred. No surprises there, then.

Pics featured from the A/W 10 collection of Ports 1961. Prices start from £700. Ports 1961 is available at Harvey Nichols.
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