Fall 2007: Ports 1961
From the weird, industrial carpet-like invitation to the minute I walked into the Salon, it was clear to me that the Ports 1961 show was a sophisticated affair. Each seat held a tidy folder (with run sheet, pencil, and show notes) and a gift bag; the backdrop featured a projected forest-like image; I also noticed most of the Vogue masthead (including Plum Sykes) sitting directly across from me, and I was several rows behind Glenda Bailey and Joe Zee, the new creative director of Elle. I figured, after reading the show notes, that this was because Vogue's Camilla Nickerson styled the show--and that Ports 1961 is angling to be the next big luxury sportswear label. The collection was inspired by Iceland and by industrial postwar design (got that?), and while there were many chic, wearable pieces, some veered a bit into avant garde Comme des Garçons territory--which is not necessarily a bad thing.

I loved the chic, simple look of this shift dress, although the necklace was a bit much.

Here's another very wearable look. Note the slim highwater trousers--this is a late-emerging trend, and a great alternative to the wide-leg pants that we've been seeing everywhere. I also love how the sliver of metallic peeks out from the jacket.

There were some great coats in the collection; here's current It model Agyness Deyn in a lovely brushed wool design.

Most of the looks were black or gray, but the few colors were muted and kind of industrial-meets-nature, if that makes any sense. I thought this tunic, while the color is not one that everyone can wear, was gorgeous.

Here's another great cocoon coat, and another subtle touch of color.

This was one of my favorite looks in the show, an impractical but beautifully constructed short-sleeved cashmere coat.

Throughout the show, many of the coats and dresses had padded collars and trim; the notes call this "wadding." I feel like unless it's a bra, women tend not to like anything padded, so I'm not sure how viable these pieces are. Otherwise, this coat is beautiful.

Once I was safely back at my office, I opened the nicely wrapped box in the gift bag with glee. It contained what appears to be a lariat made out of the same industrial-carpet material as the invitation, but with a charm and a pompom at the end. So maybe Ports 1961 doesn't win the best swag prize, but thankfully the clothes were beautiful enough to speak for themselves. And judging by the enthusiastic applause designer Tia Cibani received at the end, the audience agreed.

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