“Talking Shop With Ellen Carey”

Ellen Carey at Jeffrey New York wearing Yves Saint Laurent

Two: Minds, a new multi-brand luxury retailer, will open on Gansevoort Street in New York’s Meatpacking District in late April. It is the brainchild of Jesse Dong, a former buyer at Jeffrey New York, which closed permanently during the pandemic. It will offer both women’s and men’s clothing and accessories. Among the high-end labels, he will stock Thom Browne, Tom Ford, Peter Do, Jacquemus, Sacai, Alexander McQueen, Balmain, Rick Owens, Isabel Marant, and Dries Van Noten.

Ellen Carey shopping at Comme des Garcons wearing Balenciaga dress and gloves

Ellen Carey predicts Jesse’s approximately 3000 square foot store will take the place of Jeffrey New York. In fact, she believes Two: Minds is the future. “Jesse is 30, energetic, smart, and elegant. He knows what NOT to do, and he is very kind,” she says. “I believe he is going to do well because there is a void”. Ellen should know. Ellen is always in search of artistry, integrity, and authenticity. For almost three decades, she has nurtured designers and artisans and supported independent boutiques.

Ellen Carey founded SEED Inc. about 27 years ago. The name reflects Ellen’s mission to plant, foster, and help others grow. Ellen is knowledgeable about fashion, art, and design. She has a tireless work ethic, an appreciation for the special and artisanal, and a strong personal style predicated on the eclectic and eccentric (Comme des Garcons and Dries van Noten are among her favorite designers). All these qualities have kept Ellen ahead of the curve since the beginning.

Ellen Carey was the press coordinator of Barneys New York in the 80’s

During a phone call with the Canadian-born entrepreneur, she explained coming to New York to work on Wall Street in the ’80s but was soon disillusioned with the financial sector. While living in Gramercy Park, Ellen befriended a senior editor at Town & Country and became her assistant. She eventually relocated to Paris, working in the magazine’s fashion office and then for Azzedine Alaia. The designer introduced Ellen to Gene Pressman, who was in Paris buying for his store, Barneys New York. Gene offered Ellen a job in the PR department working directly under Mallory Andrews. Ellen remains close to her former boss.

Ellen Carey in Paris wearing Romeo Gigli

When Barneys opened uptown, Ellen left her post at the store (she did not think it was the right move for the retailer). She accepted a job offer from Milan-based Romeo Gigli, who was at the peak of his career. It was a heady time, traveling through Italy for work and pleasure. Stefano Bonaretti, who made the music for Gigli, wanted to start a company with Ellen. Together, they founded SEED Inc. Because Stefano’s father owned a shipping company, they were able to import artisanal products from Italy to America inexpensively. Ellen says one thing she misses most is the personal connection; meeting with talented artists in their homes.

SEEDHOUSE in Chelsea

Ellen does not have a website, but she can be messaged through Instagram, @ellencareyseedinc. When they started out, SEED had a big loft in Soho and then moved to a townhouse in Chelsea. Ellen lived and worked at the celebrated and oft-photographed SEEDHOUSE, at 487 West 22nd Street, for 15 years. Her last address was 117 West 12th (formerly rented by Olivier Theyskens). Ellen no longer has a space in NYC but hopes to in the future. In July, she temporarily relocated to Hudson, New York. The historic town is an artistic destination and haven for many creative New Yorkers. Thanks to Kasuri, a store with a phenomenal cutting edge selection (and some of the best Comme des Garcons) located at 1 Warren Street, Ellen can still indulge in one of her favorite activities: shopping,

Ellen Carey out shopping in Hudson New York wearing a Dries Van Noten cotton skirt

From the outset, Ellen has continually kept busy doing multiple projects on the side. She helped open Jeffrey New York, collaborated with MAC Cosmetics, Jonathan Adler, and 10 Thousand Things. Ellen was a consultant to Geoffrey Beene and Alber Elbaz at Lanvin. We both agree that Alber’s newly launched AZFactory was a bit of a disappointment. We agree that one of the most significant “fashion moments” in the past few years was the collaboration between Dries Van Noten and Christian Lacroix for the fall 2020 ready-to-wear collection.

Ellen Carey wearing a man’s Comme des Garcons vest and Dries Van Noten skirt

Notwithstanding Ellen’s love of Bergdorf Goodman’s 7th floor home and Kentshire Estate Jewelry departments, she is drawn to specialty stores like Linda Dresner, whose “wacky” designs always appealed to her. Ellen says it brought tears to her eyes when she learned Linda, who once had a major presence on Park Avenue, closed her store in Birmingham, Michigan. Ellen says that the Dries Van Noten selection at Blake in Chicago is so outstanding, she would fly there just to buy it. Other favored specialty stores across the country are Tender in Michigan, Vermillion in Raleigh NC, Max in Boulder, Denver, and Aspen, Canary in Dallas, TX.

In New York, Ellen’s preferred shopping destinations for clothing are Comme des Garcons and Dover Street Market. While having lunch at the communal table at the latter, Ellen met and befriended Myung Song, who owns SONG Vienna, a noted fashion, art, and interior concept store in Vienna in the ’90s. Ms. Song is a woman with great personal style and one of the major retailers in the world. Her anniversary book, “I’ll Wear It Until I’m Dead: the Song Fashion Archives” is the title of her new book, a must-have history of fashion enthuses Ellen, (Lannoo Publishers, list price $85),

John Derian’s West Village shop
Photo: nymag.com

Ellen always values the artist and wants to support smaller independent shops. On Ellen’s most recent trip to Soho, the store that most impressed her was IF Boutique at 94 Grand Street, which has been around for 42 years. Among the other unique stores, Ellen refers to as “jewels in the city” is John Derian, whose emporiums have a very clear and unique vision. John opened his first shop of handmade decoupage tabletop pieces in 1995. He opened his 5th store, located at 18 Christopher Street, in 2018.

Kasuri in Hudson New York

Ellen is always taken with the superb collection at SAVED NY, founded by Sean McNanney. It is located at 72 Irving Place, a most charming New York corner. Sean is a Brooklyn-based artist and designer. He specializes in hand-crafted blankets, pillows, sweaters, and accessories made of sustainably sourced Mongolian Yak Down, Cashmere, and Camelhair. He also sells vintage art and objects and likes to collaborate with other artists and designers he admires www.saved-ny.com

Mario Buatta Auction at Sotheby’s
Photo: .habituallychic.luxury

Another one of Ellen’s favorite destinations is EERDMAN’s Fine Art, located at 14 East 10th Street. Emily Eerdman is a design historian, gallerist, and author. Emily was not only Mario Buatta’s friend and biographer; she pulled together the 922 items from Buatta’s estate that sold for auction at Sotheby’s in January. Unsurprisingly, Emily’s East Village townhouse is filled with extraordinary books, furniture, and works of art

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

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