story by Lisa Radano
photos by Charles Beckwith
After many successful seasons designing for Ports 1961, Tia Cibani set off to define and establish her own unique voice. I asked her how that felt, and her measured answer spoke to both sides of the question. “In a way, it’s all very new, but at the same time this isn’t my first collection. So, I feel very comfortable, but it’s also scary.” The combination of confidence and vulnerability Cibani experienced while designing her second namesake collection is expressed in the clothes themselves, quite directly in fact.
Striding through an arched installation of geometric, metallic shapes, created by sculptor Kirsten Hessenfeld, the models appeared beautifully temperate in a variety of cigarette pants, jackets from cropped to 3/4 length, sheath dresses, pencil skirts, and fluid trousers. There was delicate exposure of wrists and ankles, but also swathing of same in luxurious gloves and boots. Crisp white, deep black, robust navy and grey, were punctuated here and there with sedate metallic accents. Each of these well styled, “just so” looks, with their balance of masculine and feminine, seemed to know exactly who they were for – a busy city woman who enjoys a bit of flair. And, when the models turned to exit, that flair was set off in the shape of draped sashes, intricate panels, and even burgeoning wings.
I suggested to the Cibani that these would be excellent clothes to wear when walking away from someone. She smiled, agreeing in a careful response, “Yes, you could say that the introduction is sober and the conclusion is a surprise.” This duality, however unintended, speaks to the designer’s own trajectory, from the known solid success of her work at Ports, to the nascent spreading of her own wings. The last, almost giddy passage of cocktail dresses in bronze, 24 carrot gold, and strawberry pink, all with playful pleating and draping, provided a lovely hint of lift off. It will be interesting to watch where Ms. Cibani flies next. Surely her recent Rising Star Award from Fashion Group International is a beckoning affirmation, but she’s got her seat belt firmly and elegantly fastened.