Touching the heavens with feet firmly planted

Ports 1961- For those who question whether fashion can transcend its practical use to become something more, to touch on the divine, I suggest turning to the collection of an artist at work- Tia Cibani’s collection for Ports 1961. Her Spring ’09 collection, ‘Beloved of the Sky’, is the collaboration of true artisans, who obviously take great pride in their craft.

Cibani drew inspiration from impressionist painter Emily Carr’s journey through the Canadian totem forest. The color palette reflected Carr’s strong use of bold color- azure blue, subtle sand tones, soft but vibrant yellows and shots of spicy paprika made for a deliciously inspired color story. Cibani called upon various techniques to invoke the grandeur of the soaring totem poles- including tiered layers, tailored lines and manipulated fabrics. She used horizontal bands of fabric in monochromatic color and varying weights to great affect. She offered a plethora of well tailored suit- combining sliming skirts with roomy but structured jackets (often belted). In one intriguing look a model glided out in sand colored cigarette trouser with matching top cover in gigantic leaf shaped sequins. Other uses of embellishments were less successful, as in the barrage of fringe that often pushed some of the looks into the realm of costume.
At the root of this collection, beneath the artistic jewelry and sculptural hats (that may not translate to real life) was a collection of solid spring clothing. Both slouchy and cigarette trousers were present, paired with anvil shaped jackets and coats. Car coats are everywhere, and Cibani’s renditions were some of the most inviting, as in the plum colored version that featured tiers of cotton tulle that faded into tiers of charmeuse. A favorite look was the quintessentially Ports sheath in a textured black fabric belted with a gigantic pleated copper belt- it felt smart and important. A monochromatic print sheath with metallic coat belted is sure to make a strong statement in the board room. For those savvy enough to break the collection a part there are lots of unique pieces that are sure to become Spring ‘09 favorites.
Whether or not you are fashion forward enough to go for the head to toe Ports’ look, you certainly have to recognize its merit. This season Cibani partnered with three unique designers to realize her vision. The masterful millinery skills of Karen Henriksen were noteworthy. Jewelry designer Lina Peterson who is well known for her use of unconventional materials offered an innovative and modern take on jewelry. Julia Lundstien shoes provided just the right quotient of organic earthiness to this texturally rich collection.
Perhaps what I found most endearing, most special about this collection, was that it had integrity. This was the culmination of a collaboration of artists who were thinking, striving to create something that upheld their standard of beauty. Whether or not we all subscribe to it is partly irrelevant- it was clear that they were displaying the height and girth of their passion and their abilities and for that I applaud them.

A. Coelho