Ports 1961 by Tia Cibani is an interesting brand. It is a sort of perpetually phoenix-reborn brand.
The company was founded in 1961 by a man interested in yachts, and revitalized in 2003, by a woman interested in the places where they tie up.
Tia and her team make each collection a reflection of something visually exotic. A time, a place, or a culture is selected, and then merged with interesting bits of others. The design team forges an icon lens through which they focus their creations for the season, often in the form of a hypothetical girl who has a romantic life in exotic places, and they design the pieces for her to reflect her surroundings. This nameless girl with her faithful steamer trunk full of fabulous clothing and accessories has been to Egypt, New York, Prague, Tanzania, Argentina in 1936, and many other visually exotic locales. She has been a reflection of many women from many eras, both fictional and real, such as Lulu Mae Barnes (Holly Golightly) and Lucille Ball. Last year, one collection focused on the latitude N63, where one finds Iceland on the map, and the pieces reflected the Icelandic culture and natural beauty. The current Fall 2008 collection was inspired by Scotland, with Linton tweeds in prominence. This creative rebirth process in the Spring 2009 collection is based on a number of elements, including a large number of references to the Haida Nation of British Columbia, the Native Americans who still build totem poles near Cibani’s home town of Vancouver.
The Ports team does not work alone, striving to incorporate the work of freelance designers and artists whose work fits with the season’s given icon aesthetic. The assembly of the collection is inclusive, rather than exclusive, and leads to a rich diversity of looks from season to season.
Right now the work of German artist Mathias Hornung is on display in their New York studio and showroom, and reflected in the clothing.
In January 2009, Ports 1961 plans to open a new flagship boutique with an open-air courtyard in an exquisitely renovated 150 year-old space on cobblestoned historic Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District, New York City.