Sea Spring 2023 Ready-to-Wear Collection


Canal Street, around Broadway, offers an unretouched slice of New York City. Among the grit and the shuttered storefronts littered with stickers and tags, the Sea store is an oasis of calm, its foliate logoed sign a beacon of romance since its opening in 2018, nine years after Monica Paolini and Sean Monahan founded the brand. It’s around that time that Sea’s arty bohemianism started to morph into the crafty rusticity that it’s known for today.

Sea is part of a wave of labels, including Bode and Eckhaus Latta, that, more than a few years into the new, digital century, chose to emphasize the hand in their work. Lockdown only strengthened Sea’s commitment to craft. “During the pandemic” says Paolini, “we studied craft and what women did when they were at home. I just kept looking at Etsy and hand-work and different ways that women occupied their time, like crochet or needlepoint. It’s so touching and [something] I’m personally super-attracted to,” she adds. “I always want [our designs] to be like little treasures and to bring optimism and happiness to people.”

The brand’s hand-pieced quilted looks have been particularly successful. For spring, Sea revisited sampler-style quilting, but upped the ante by combining it with crochet. There were quilted pieces that have more of an abstract feeling, which was a welcome development, as was seeing this technique applied to more casual pieces, like a summery jacket and short sets. Paolini said the casual styles add a “tomboy” twist to the collection, a sensibility accentuated by shooting the looks on the stylist and jewelry designer Veneda Carter. White work dresses with hand-smocking or hand-crochet details were a theme, as were one-shoulder looks. Rick-rack was used not only as a trimming, but to create curving seams that, when put together, offered a pretty take on the ever present cut-out.

The focus at Sea is usually a total-look dress, which is what a large part of the brand’s fan base wants and wears, but an appliqué camp shirt styled with roomy pants underlined the appeal of mix-and-match separates that can be layered or worn with existing wardrobe staples. Also intriguing was a dress and vest in what looked like Slavic-inspired embroidery, a reminder that there are many craft traditions the designers can explore. The duo are just back from Seoul.



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