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It’s TIA Time!

So I’m headed to Manhattan to interview the super cool designer Tia Cibani for a blog post.  Tia, previous creative director of Ports 1961, launched her namesake women’s wear line,  TIA CIBANI, a few years ago.  She was also founder and designer of Kico Kids, one of the first brands carried at Posh.  I’m totally psyched to hang out with her in her home in Chelsea, Manhattan. Toby (who I drag along to photograph Tia and her beautiful home) and I, show up as scheduled, at 5:00 pm.  Her husband Mathew lets us in, graciously tells us to hang out, and lets us know that Tia will be home shortly. Her home is magnificent and elegant, yet cozy and livable, yet well planned and curated, yet colorful and vibrant. Having never met Tia before, I’m hoping that her home reflects her personality, and I later learn, that the fun vibe in her eclectic home (which she decorated all by her talented self, I might add), mirrors her aura!

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The view from her kitchen, which overlooks her garden, is breathtaking.

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Her adorable baby girl, Castine (named after a small town in Maine), also known as Chi Chi, is in the kitchen having her snack with her Italian nanny.  Chi Chi, age 2 , understands Italian.

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(Tia wanted her daughter to be bilingual, with no preference for what the second language would be, and Italian happened by accident, when an Italian nanny was hired to take care of her. Tia plans on enrolling Chi Chi in an Italian school  and wants to get an apartment in Italy.)   But now back to our interview…… When Tia arrives home (I may be a little starstruck), she asks if I could conduct the  interview while she cooks and preps for a small dinner party that she is hosting later that evening in her home.  I tell her that I actually prefer it that way.  It kinda takes the pressure off of me, and makes it less formal, especially since this is my first time interviewing anybody, and oddly,  I have zero questions prepared. I had figured we would play it by ear…

She’s making Morroccon spiced chicken and potatoes, quinoa salad with cucumbers, and berries with mint.  “I’m not a real cook,” she claims,  “but I am someone who follows a recipe real well.  I enjoy shopping for the ingredients and love the process.   I find it therapeutic.”   That sounds like a real cook to me. Her passion is womens’ wear,  she tells me in her “world accent”.   When I try to pinpoint the root of her faint accent, she tells me it stems from having lived all over the world, born in Africa, raised in Canada, studied in New York,  worked in China. In a nutshell, this is what I glean: Tia  was born in Africa and lived there until age 6, and lived in Canada for the rest of her childhood.   She came to NY  to study design and graduated Parsons.  Then, what was supposed to be a six month stint in China, turned into ten years.  While living in China, Tia designed  for the Ports 1961 brand, at that time catering to the Asian market. At some point, while living in China, a cousin of Tia’s wanted to collaborate with her to design clothes for kids and so Kico Kids was born and launched to the American market.  Eventually Tia returned to New York to pursue her personal life and self.  She met her man, started her family, put the Kico Kids brand on hold and launched TIA CIBANI.  And they all lived happily ever after.

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Now it seems Mathew has added another member to the family.  Mathew has caught a firefly.  With his hands.  We are looking for a glass to trap it so it can live with them.  Oh wait.  Firefly gone. Ok, back to the interview. Tia tells us that the Kico Kids project is being reincarnated, at the behest of Posh and her sister store, Ladida.  The two boutiques were fans of the brand from the start, and have been stalking Tia to relaunch.  The collection will be available for SS 2015 and will utilize the same aesthetic as her TIA CIBANI line. She has saved some pieces from previous Kico Kids collections and I ask her to dress Chi Chi in it, so we can photograph her.

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Tia’s cooking isn’t going as planned as she is distracted by our conversation .  She smartly suggests we give ourselves a tour of her home, while she finishes her dinner party prep. The second floor of her home is as vibrant as the first, and so tidy!  This super woman designs clothes, decorates her home, throws impromptu dinner parties, cooks and keeps an organized and neat home, as well!

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We admire the amazing decor and artistic furniture and objects.

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This unique chair is made up of coins, giving a whole new meaning to sitting on your money!

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The third floor is Castines nursery and play area.  Its dreamy! The doorbell rings.  Her guests have arrived.  I guess this is our cue to exit gracefully.  Unbeknownst to us, the rest of the evening has a lot in store for us.  But thats for another story.  Stay tuned!

PHOTO CREDITS: Toby Adler Photography