I had high–yet vaguely undefined–hopes for Tia Cibani’s Fall/Winter collection, only the second ever under the designer’s eponymous label. When I spoke to the recent winner of the Fashion Group International’s coveted Rising Star Award last week, the only hints she’d give me on what to expect from her new designs were “metallics–pleated skirts.”
But shiny skirts were just the beginning. Presented in the Jerome Robbins Theater in the Barishnikov Arts Center in Hudson Yards, the show (which apparently cycled through four times total) felt, at times, more like an insider’s peek at a surrealist speakeasy than a fashion presentation. Models decked out in 1920s finger waves, dark lipstick, and slouchy elbow gloves accessorized with bling walked through an abstract paper installation that wouldn’t look out of place at the MoMA. The plucky piano soundtrack was punctuated by the perpetual clicks of cameras in the stadium seating.
The clothes were gorgeously constructed examples of accessible elegance; effortless head-turning pieces that never felt fussy. I was particularly moved by what Cibani calls a “chainmail paillette kimono vest”–which looked like it should come with a fainting couch and cigarette holder–and a vibrant, expertly tailored amethyst-colored asymmetrical dress with delicate, restrained pleating on only the backside. A lifelong fan of surrealist artist Man Ray, Cibani said she was particularly inspired by one of his subjects in particular. “I used [socialite and art collector] Peggy Guggenheim as my muse, from one of his portraits that he did of her,” the designer told us. “It inspired both the feminine aspect and the artistic aspect of the collection.” Google Peggy Guggenheim–you’ll get it, too.