Sea NY Designer Sean Monahan in a Paris Showroom

Sea NY Designer Sean Monahan in a Paris Showroom


As I chatted with Sea NY co-founder Sean Monahan, an almost forgotten term from high school social studies came back to me: Melting pot.

We were talking about handmade silk beads that come from India, a print that from Liberty London, and a blouse's weighty, gorgeous lace-which he gets in Italy. And he was talking about how he and his partner Monica Paolini exist almost entirely outside of the Fashion Week schedule; they don't have presentations or runway shows. Instead, they concentrate on really knowing what their customers in Korea, Australia and Vancouver B.C. wear. They make feather-weight tops for the girls Down Under, and ruffled hoodies for girls in the Northwest.

All images by Jessa Carter

Sean told me all this with a soft but unmistakable New York accent-perfect in this analogy, because the City has always been America's symbol of multiculturalism. There in the heart of Paris, watching buyers Joyce Lin and Laura Janney select cool chunky knits and sweet tie-waist dresses, Sea NY felt like a very real and very cool mix of traditions, crafts, communities and commonalities.

It felt like one of contemporary fashion's prettiest melting pots.

On the other hand, the line is a local gem. Sean and Monica are lifelong best friends from a small town in upstate New York; he started the line sort of randomly, and tells me it only really started to work once Monica joined in. She's trained in fashion. He isn't.

I asked him about inspirations and where fall '17's earthy houndstooths and casual Edwardian references come from, and Sean said he and Monica, who wasn't able to be in the showroom with us today, tend to start with fabric. In this case a fuzzy wool and a British-feeling floral print, made in sporty nylon. From there it's was a puzzle they kept working on, each idea occurring in due time and unfolding and refolding.

The fashion blogs love to profile the designers' chic and cozy shared living space ( here's the Coveteur's), and it really does seem like a perfectly easy-going partnership. Just a couple of pals sitting around draping jersey with crisp shirting and talking about the color ocher and the natural progression of the sweatshirt.

It's no wonder we respond so well to the pieces-the tailored shirting with embellished flair, the neo-Annie Hall trousers, and the girly eyelet smocks. They feel connected to so many different parts of this world, and to our individual lives as well.

Go where we go, see what we see. Stay up to date with all our Fashion Week coverage and shop curated collections of our favorite designers at Nordstrom's Fashion Week Central.

-Laura Cassidy

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