Dear iDEALS, thanks to my friend Tatiana Varda, I came across London-based womenswear label ISA ARFEN. Founded in late 2011 by Serafina Sama,after following a small collection of summer dresses inspired by the retro glamour of Slim Aarons’ society photographsthe pieces were sold exclusively through private sales, and the enthusiastic response led the designer to develop these initial themes into a broader collection.
Growing up in Ravenna, Italy, Serafina was surrounded by strong female figures whose individual, eccentric and irreverent styles are reflected in the ISA ARFEN design aesthetic. Drawing on the canons of Italian style with equal doses of pride and irony, the label is relaxed, feminine and fun, shot through with a touch of aristocratic sensibility. “To me fashion is about desire, beauty and fun. It's not about dressing up in a costume. ISA ARFEN is about a real woman dressing for her real life and really enjoying it.”
Serafina Sama graduated from Central Saint Martins School of Art & Design in 2006 having gained studio experience at Marni, Lanvin and Marc Jacobs. For the following two years she worked in Paris as design assistant at Chloé before returning to London in the summer of 2008 to start a family. She subsequently worked on free-lance projects for Chloé, Louis Vuitton, Acne and Charlotte Olympia. The last time I saw her was some years back at Hotel de Crillon, during a private party for Louis Vuitton...
FilepMotwary: How did everything start for you?
SerafinaSama: I spent the majority of my childhood drawing. And my subjects were always girls in different outfits… Hundreds of them! As soon as I realised that that was something I could study at university and do for a living I couldn’t think of anything I would rather do!
FM: Why you have chosen fashion as your profession in the first place.
SS: I couldn’t really imagine doing anything else! I tried to convince myself I could be an architect when my parents wouldn’t let me study fashion (“too frivolous!”) but that didn’t last long!
SS: I wouldn’t call her a heroine… I don’t design for a fantasy woman. Growing up in Ravenna I have always been surrounded by strong female figures and their eclectic, irreverent and individual style has been a great influence on the Isa Arfen aesthetic.
FM: And who is this woman?
SS: She is relaxed, sophisticated and with a sense of humour.
FM:Serafina, do you feel fashion is changing? If yes to which direction?
SS: It’s becoming faster , more accessible but also more disposable.
SS: I don’t think I am in the position to give advice to other designers, but I personally think it is important to be humble, be true to yourself, work hard, put love into everything you do, and have fun while doing it.
FM: How important was for you, the fact that you have worked for other designers before you launched your own collection?
SS: Extremely important! I wouldn’t have had a real view of how this industry works, but only a romanticized version of it, if I hadn’t worked for other designers before.
SS: I feel so enriched and lucky to have been able to work with a lot of very talented people and learn from them. It helped me to grow up, believe in my personal taste and define my identity as a designer.
FM: What shall we expect from you in the near future?
SS: My winter collection of course!! AW13-14!
SS: In the middle of confirming stockists right now… watch this space!