Always a favorite (if not the favorite) of the season, the Spring/Summer 2011 Ports 1961 collection was, for the first time since its inception in 2004, not designed by Tia Cibani. Cibani, who recently stepped down from her creative director role, has been replaced by her sister, Fiona, a longtime vet of Ports 1961’s mother brand, Ports International.
From the looks of this season’s collection, it has been a seamless transition. Titled “Essadi,” a pseudonym used by explorer Isabelle Eberhardt while journeying into Northern Africa in the 19th century, Fiano appears to be equally as inspired by worldly travels as her sister.
So many brands’ shows – while full of covetable pieces – have seemed redundant and unoriginal, but Ports 1961 managed to show a cohesive, completely enthralling collection, proving once again that they’re one of the few brands that can make a classic looking dress or separate show-stoppingly memorable.
The couture-like detail and precision of each and every piece was simply stunning. I couldn’t help but think to myself “who in the world has the skill to make this” when looking at nearly every look that made its way down the runway. This is all the more impressive, because Ports 1961 doesn’t rely on loud, in-your-face embellishments to catch the eye. It’s all about the subtle, uber-skilled fabric manipulations.
That said, this season did have a few “bling” moments, showing us that Fiona has brought some of her own flavor to the brand. Textural gowns and cocktail looks were finished with intricate crystal embellishments so striking they reminded me of why one could easily spend hours at the brand’s boutique or showroom – the pieces are so subtly intricate, you’re likely to find something new to appreciate every time you look at them.
Bold, big, pyrite jewelry complemented a few of the looks, and the hair, done by legendary hair stylist Orlando Pita, featured perfectly teased curls. These elements, along with the understated make-up by Val Garland, were the ideal cherry on top of this fabulously multi-dimensional collection.
Worth singling out were the sculpted dresses. Always a favorite, I got chills of excitement when an amethyst, off-the-shoulder belted sculpted dress, a pyrite gathered knit dress with delicate pleats in the back, and an ivory sculpted gown made their way down the runway. I have a strong feeling we’ll be seeing style stunner Olivia Palermo, who was sitting front row at the show, in one of these in the coming months.