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Monica Paolini

Words By
Styled By
Photographs By

Few brands have permeated the fashion conscience in the last few years quite like Sea. The boom in crochet knits, patchwork quilted jackets and delicate broderie anglaise? That’s down to them.

The woman to thank is Monica Paolini, the brand’s creative director and co-founder. Sea was started by her childhood friend Sean Monahan in 2006, then she joined a few years later, after stints working for Jill Stuart and Betsey Johnson. Since then, the friends and business partners have been steadily carving out a space in the fashion landscape, with their design sensibilities complementing each other perfectly – Paolini’s love of vintage combines with Monahan’s more contemporary vision to create the signature Sea aesthetic.

Feminine but never fussy, each piece has craftsmanship and wearability at its core – they are clothes made for women who want to look great while getting stuff done. So, we couldn’t wait to see inside the wardrobe of the woman who brings them to life. We took a trip to her New York home to take a look…

"I worked for Betsey Johnson many years ago and learned so much from that experience. Ultimately, I wanted to design clothes that were closer to my aesthetic. Sea began as an exploration of that dream and is a natural extension of the friendship between me and Sean."

"We started Sea with the intention of creating a company and brand that we could build and work on together. We’ve been running with it together since, with tons of laughter and possibly more fights."

"I have a huge collection of vintage pieces and often find print inspiration from the treasures I discover through my travels."

"I love the Julian embroidered jacket from our Pre-Fall collection. It’s cosy and can be dressed up or down."

"I stick to dresses and flat sandals during the summer – it feels easy and carefree compared with all the layers and boots needed for NY winters."

"The religious medallion is from my grandmother. I consider it my lucky charm. I also always wear my son’s initials from Foundrae – the beautiful jewellery store is just a few steps away from our studio."

"I’m only about vintage jeans – I discover the best washes from vintage, then I like to customise the fits in our atelier."

"I was born and raised in upstate New York and after high school I practically ran to NYC and haven’t left since. NY is my home and it inspires the brand."

"I love crochet and creating the artwork of each knit with my favourite collaborator on the team, Mercedes. (She also happens to be my son’s beloved nanny.) She is a master knitter and such an integral and inspiring part of the design process each season."

"Vacations with my family keep me going and it's often on these trips that I find easy and fun add-ons to my wardrobe like a basket bag. They end up being tokens of memories."

"With footwear, I like to find styles that are more complementary than standout. I tend to have a few pairs that I rotate within each season whether it’s summer or fall – and comfort is always key."

"Lauren Hutton and Jane Birkin are my muses – timeless, cool and completely elegant."

"I’ve collected some gold bracelets from my trips to India and they are a reminder of the incredible collaboration we’ve nurtured and created with our factories there."

"Crochet is one of many crafts and traditions of generations past that I love to enhance and modernise with each collection. These macramé bags make me smile because they are another style I designed with Mercedes."