Shea Zahedi’s latest well of fashion inspiration may be obscure, but the designer and her work are heading to a well-known destination.
Zahedi, who grew up in Juneau and may be remembered by locals by her maiden name Shea Wilcox, will soon show a collection from her Opal Heart label at New York Fashion Week 2.0 — the second of the twice-annual New York City fashion events.
It won’t be her first trip to Manhattan to share her styles on a big stage. In February, she brought a collection of vintage-inspired clothing to the city for her first New York Fashion Week.
Some of her NYFW-debut collection was inspired by a late 19th century Valentine, and Zahedi turned back the clock again for “First Impressions.”
The 12 looks draw inspiration from 19th Century painter Federico Zandomeneghi as well as some print projects Zahedi worked on as an undergraduate at the Art Institute of Portland.
“It started when I was learning about art history,” Zahedi said in a phone interview. “I completely fell in love with the Pre-Impressionist art movement. I just loved the idea of that. I think that it’s related to our memory. How some things in our memory are so clear and solid, but some things are mushy.”
Taking influence from the past helped Zahedi to create a collection in time for the show.
“I had really good building blocks,” Zahedi said. “I had things I made individually that when I put them together, I realized how related they are and how related they are to the subject that I had been working on.”
Zahedi is a proponent of slow fashion, which places an emphasis on creating garments that are made to last and often made using secondhand or repurposed materials. Quality is valued over quantity or speed.
“I think it’s important to reject the idea you need to constantly be putting out something 100-percent brand new all the time, especially in our Instagram era,” Zahedi said.
Some of Zahedi’s favorite pieces in the collection took considerable time to complete.
“I have a couture gown in my collection that’s completely silk and done in the true, true couture way,” Zahedi said. “It probably took 200 hours.”
Another favorite dress leans into its arts-world inspiration and combines handmade lamé bees with a honeycomb-like columns of polygons.
“It was inspired by an artist who works in gold, and he deals with distillation of time,” Zahedi said.
She said a love of sewing and having about 15 looks in the works at the time also helped with the work.
Her work will be paired with music produced by Diane Magnuson, who makes music under the name Tourmaline. The two knew each other through college, Zahedi said, so she reached out to the musician about a potential collaboration. She said she was happy to work with another independent artist.
When Zahedi spoke to the Capital City Weekly, she was also excited about Alaska fashion and a some-day move back to the Last Frontier.
Shortly after her trip to New York, Zahedi will be traveling to Alaska for the Trend Fashion Show in Anchorage.
The new event is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 27 at the Ted Stevens International Airport. She said she’s seen the work of some of the other participants online and has been thoroughly impressed with their quality.
“It made me so proud of Alaska, there are so many talented designers there,” Zahedi said.
She said over the past few years, she has sort of lost track of the Alaska fashion world and is excited to plug back in.
However, Zahedi said growing up in the home of the Wearable Art Extravaganza means some part of Alaska has always been present in her work.
“It was always kind of cool to see that stuff in Juneau, and it was always Wearable Arts, which is way different from commercial fashion, and being influenced by both I feel like my stuff kind of lives in both realms,” Zahedi said.
“I don’t intend on forever not living there,”she added. “Alaska is always going to be home, and I always think about finding ways to make my way back there.”
• Contact reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.