Shea Zahedi, who is from Juneau, will show her largest collection to date during New York Fashion week. She credits her Juneau upbringing with instilling fashion values she continues to draw from. (Courtesy Photo | Tim Sudden for Shea Zahedi)

Shea Zahedi, who is from Juneau, will show her largest collection to date during New York Fashion week. She credits her Juneau upbringing with instilling fashion values she continues to draw from. (Courtesy Photo | Tim Sudden for Shea Zahedi)

Designer from Juneau will show her work during New York Fashion Week

Slow fashion heads to City that Never Sleeps.

Shea Zahedi would not be preparing to show a collection at New York Fashion Week without Juneau.

Zahedi, née Wilcox, grew up in Juneau and is the designer behind the Opal Heart fashion line. The sensibilities that are taking her to the Big Apple for one of the world’s biggest fashion events were forged in the capital city.

“I’m really inspired by vintage sewing from the ’50s and ’60s,” Zahedi said from Orange County, California, in a phone interview. “I think a lot of that came from growing up in Juneau. Our families all had to sew a lot of their clothes and work with what was available to them. Just kind of inspired by the ethos of repairing your clothing and using high-quality methods to construct the garments.”

Shea Zahedi’s Opal Heart fashion line shies away from designs meant to capitalize on trends or seasonal looks. Zahedi said she endeavors to work closely with customers, too. (Courtesy Photo | Shea Zahedi)

Shea Zahedi’s Opal Heart fashion line shies away from designs meant to capitalize on trends or seasonal looks. Zahedi said she endeavors to work closely with customers, too. (Courtesy Photo | Shea Zahedi)

Zahedi, who lived in Portland, Oregon, for about a decade after moving from Juneau and now resides in California, said she is thrilled to be showing clothing in New York City during Fashion Week, which runs Feb. 8-16.

“I think it’s really exciting just to be in New York during Fashion Week,” Zahedi said. “Growing up in Juneau it seems so far away. The fashion world seems so far away and removed. To have the opportunity to show my work somewhere during fashion week is incredible.”

[These sea otter earrings tweak tradition]

She especially relishes the opportunity to show off work that incorporates Slow Fashion mentality on such a large stage. Slow Fashion is a clothing world movement that is the equivalent of farm-to-table restaurants in culinary circles, Zahedi said.

It places an emphasis on creating garments that are made to last and employ excess, secondhand or repurposed materials. Despite the name, some pieces can be completed in five hours. Others might take as many as 30 hours, Zahedi said.

“Sharing the message of Slow Fashion is almost more important to me than selling my clothes,” Zahedi said. “I’m just glad they make people happy, just like anybody who paints.”

The collection Zahedi is poised to show is her largest yet. It is unnamed and does not focus on a particular season — seasonless appeal is one of Opal Heart’s calling cards. Instead, the collection builds on the voice Zahedi has established for the Opal Heart line.

She described that voice as bright, feminine and vintage-inspired.

The clothing made by Shea Zahedi for her Opal Heart fashion line draw inspiration from vintage looks and often times make use of vintage materials, too. (Courtesy Photo | Shea Zahedi)

The clothing made by Shea Zahedi for her Opal Heart fashion line draw inspiration from vintage looks and often times make use of vintage materials, too. (Courtesy Photo | Shea Zahedi)

Opal Heart clothing has a Mid-Modern, yacht party vibe that could strike a chord for fans of the costumes in the early seasons of “Mad Men.”

“I’m an extremely optimistic person, and I think the clothes reflect that,” Zahedi said. “They’re fun and lighthearted.”

The line generally eschews specific sizes and seasons to focus on garments with year-round appeal that can be fitted and customized for the customer.

Inspiration for the latest collection also comes from the more distant past — The Gilded Age.

“My collection was inspired by a valentine from the 1880s,” Zahedi said. “In the 1880s, women used to send valentines to each other. It was part of female friendship, so that’s what my collection is celebrating is kinship between women and just focusing on the positivity of that kind of stuff.”

Shea Zahedi’s Opal Heart clothing line draws inspiration from the past. Her latest collection was inspired by this 1880s valentine. (Courtesy Photo | Shea Zahedi)

Shea Zahedi’s Opal Heart clothing line draws inspiration from the past. Her latest collection was inspired by this 1880s valentine. (Courtesy Photo | Shea Zahedi)

The valentine was discovered by Zahedi in an antique store, and its design includes a pink umbrella, yellow flower and boardwalk scene.

“Some of my looks actually feature the valentine, and I also have a lot of vintage accessories from the 1950s,” Zahedi said.

The looks will include crocheted flowers by Juneau artist Sornja Pan.

[Anything is eight-part harmony if you’re brave enough]

“It was really important for me to bring accessory designers from Juneau to represent my Juneau roots and help shine some light on the fabulous makers we have in Juneau,” Zahedi said.

Even without the local contributions, Zahedi said Juneau would be reflected in her work.

“I just really thank my experiences of growing up in Alaska and having to save things and repair what you have,” Zahedi said. “That craftiness, being able to use things for off-label purposes, or put things together to have a solution for something that really informed who I am as a designer.”


• Contact arts and culture reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter @BenHohenstatt.


More in News

Even as coronavirus numbers are going down and vaccines are being distributed, pandemic-related facilities like the testing site at Juneau International Airport, seen here in this Oct. 12 file photo, are scheduled to remain for some time, according to city health officials. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire file)
Vaccines are coming, but pandemic facilities will remain

Testing sites and other COVID-19 operations will continue, officials say, but infections are trending down.

After violent protesters loyal to President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol today, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, left, and Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., join other senators as they return to the House chamber to continue the joint session of the House and Senate and count the Electoral College votes cast in November's election, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Murkowski on impeachment: ‘I will listen carefully’ to both sides

As for timing, the senator said, “our priority this week must be to ensure safety in Washington, D.C.”

Has it always been a police car. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire)
Police calls for Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Juneau City Hall. The City and Borough of Juneau has distributed nearly $5 million in household and individual assistance grants since October. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
All housing and most personal assistance grants processed

About $5 million in aid is flowing to households and individuals in Juneau.

A child plays at Capital School Park. The park is in line for a remodel that will fix the crumbling retaining wall, visible in the background. (Dana Zigmund / Juneau Empire)
A new life is in store for Capital School Park

Public input is helping craft a vision for the park’s voter-approved facelift.

Expected heavy snow and high winds Thursday evening prompted Alaska’s Department of Transportation and Public Facilities to issue a warning of increased avalanche hazard along Thane Road. (File photo)
Avalanche risk increasing along Thane Road

Be careful and plan for the possibility of an extended road closure.

White House, tribes joined to deliver Alaska Native vaccines

The initiative has treated Indigenous tribes as sovereign governments and set aside special vaccine shipments.

This 2020 electron microscope image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories shows SARS-CoV-2 virus particles which causes COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in a lab. On Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, the top U.S. public health agency said that coronavirus can spread greater distances through the air than 6 feet, particularly in poorly ventilated and enclosed spaces. But agency officials continued to say such spread is uncommon, and current social distancing guidelines still make sense. (NIAID-RML via AP)
COVID at a glance for Friday, Jan. 8

The most recent state and local numbers.

Federal report says pandemic hit seafood industry hard

Catch brought to the docks fell 29% over the course of the first seven months of the year.

Most Read