Sean Monahan and Monica Paolini’s Sea has always subscribed to a breezy, feminine joie de vivre, but Pre-Fall took a darker turn toward all things Tyrolean. “When I was in Germany buying fabric for the season, I got so inspired by the prints and embroideries there,” Paolini said. Each piece in the expansive collection had a subtle Tyrolean touch, from apron-front broderie dresses to fuzzy jacquard sweaters and moody floral slips. The designers’ instincts were on point—Tyrolean fare has been turning up on haute runways like Givenchy and Chanel, too. And the influence was right for Monahan and Paolini, who prefer to freshen up their fabrics and finishes each season in lieu of trendy new silhouettes or high-tech synthetics. Velvety, flocked organza felt particularly novel—on a cream trapeze dress, it would be perfect for a summer wedding. “We’re always looking for ways to put a new spin on lace,” Monahan said. Raw edges kept the fancy frocks down to earth—”We try to keep things from feeling too prissy,” Paolini added—and lots of denim provided heft. It’s their fastest-growing category, after all, but you won’t find any skinny jeans here. “Since we aren’t a ‘denim line,’ we have to make it special,” Monahan said. That meant quilted, hand-distressed, and embroidered raw Japanese denim overalls, hoodies, and gauchos. Elsewhere, stonewashed, paint-splattered twill and supersoft plaids had a similar vintage appeal. “Our customers really respond to coziness and soft, worn-out things, so we are constantly trying to manipulate fabrics,” Paolini said. That attention to detail paid off particularly well in this outing. Even better? It gives their clothes character, something that can be hard to find in contemporary labels.

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