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PORTS 1961- Gansevoort Street/9th Avenue, NYC

June 8th 2009- 6PM

Words, Images Judith Ecochard

We have a Midas touch pal-a former flat broke, college dropout…who whisked a gaggle of us off to sail the stunning Mediterranean Sea on his latest toy, a Bentti.

IMHO: that hard work did pay off for our generous friend.

The attire---alternating between casual daywear, and more formal dinner frocks, had us alternating between feeling comfy and then NOT SO.

We thought about that idyllic sojourn as we took in the refined Pre-Spring collection of Ports 1961, designed by one of our favorite designers in the biz, Tia Cibani. Because…

This smart woman- the Creative Director of the label- must labor 24/7 to produce the namesake line several times a year, in addition to her children’s collection KICO KIDS… plus oversee an upscale accessories assortment too.

Hard Work!

And because Cibani’s luxe fabrics, clean silhouettes, deft handling of textures and embellishments, and cultural references- not only serve up chic garments fused with interpretations of far-flung locales, season after season…but also are effortlessly wearable.

To reference that jet-set lifestyle in a collection is not a new concept, plenty of designers sing that tune.

But to do it with the styles that look good on all body types, as well as craft ensembles that we don’t feel like tearing off as soon as we get home, is another matter all together.

“The clothes have to be comfortable,” Cibani told us. Now that’s true luxury.


Our visit to the light fill Ports 1961 boutique in the Meatpacking District, began with a tour -led by the charming and knowledgeable salesman, Kyle.

Smart Hire:
The acclaimed architect Michael Gabellini, successfully fused industrial touches (Lucite shelves, steel) with intimate warm neutral tone flourishes- to shape this spacious three story former art gallery, into an inviting store.

We love the weather box, a roofless 10x10 foot square contained by striking 12 ft glass panels…that bring whatever Mother Nature delivers smack dab into the middle of the store.

One dressing room, shielded by gauzy shimmery silk fabric, contains a silver dollar investment piece chair that’s really worth sitting in.

Naturally we asked what was “hot” from the Spring 2009 collection.

“I have four dresses that I can sell again and again,” Kyle told us…including an one shoulder floaty dress in mauve, a yellow tiered modern coat with raw edges, and satiny silver shifts with sculptural necklines.


Up a flight of stairs- a separate atelier with an envy-inducing terrace…contained the Pre-Spring attire on racks, mannequins, and brought to life on a willowy model with a striking, 20’s flapper haircut.

Cibani was inspired by “the artistic and romantic collaboration of architect, designer and water colorist Charles Mackintosh and artist, Margaret Macdonald- a duo that conjured up memorable interior design, craftwork, and textiles that were “elegant and original”…and of “fragile beauty.”

Elements of “art nouveau to art deco,” with touches of Asian and Modernist elements were apparent in one of our favorite looks (and Cibani’s too)…a plush brown velvet cover-up with a wonderful grid pattern- paired with a gently draped layered mesh/silk gown. Timeless.

Another winner-a deep scooped neck, long gown with perfectly tucked gatherings (available in plum and gray).

And a wonderful vintage crotchet silver/gold metallic scarf cleverly attached to a tea length dress harked back to the twenties while still being 21st century. No jewelry required.

Peg leg pants (to wear with flats or strappy sandals) in neutral pearl and oynx shades were paired with breezy silk tops… or with a short swingy cap, a distinct and fun silhouette. We loved how the white blouse underneath had bracelet length sleeves, adorned with three buttons.

Several sleeveless black dresses also had us in the mood for posh surroundings…

And while many reads now have the ‘style for less’ columns…trust us when we say that one does not get the tailored polish, sophisticated draping and ruching, body fitting inner construction, silk linings, nor expensive fabrics that feel magnificent…with the super knock off price tags.


Pre-Spring ships in mid-October (wow) but these clothes can be worn year round. Easily.

.PORTS 1961