Special thank’s to the Isa Arfen Press Office
Joel. D. Levinson’s photography series of flea markets and swap meets in 1970s California provides the starting point to Serafina Sama’s Autumn/Winter 2018 Isa Arfen collection. Struck by the diversity, friendliness and familiarity in the images, Serafina was reminded of Portobello Market which she walks through on the way to her studio every Friday morning. This led her to consider how the market encourages a spontaneous, mix and match approach to getting dressed: one might try on a Victorian blouse over a T-shirt or a 1980s dress over jeans. This eclectic attitude defines the collection – The Isa Arfen woman wears things her own way.
The offbeat charms that is always at the core of Isa Arfen collections is here seen in the exaggerated proportions and volumes that are dramatic without being overwhelming. Sleeves are puffed, trousers full, taffeta tops architectural in their proportions. Cropped cardigans and corseted bodices emphasise the waist for a flattering silhouette. The eras Serafina draws on are varied like a Portabello stall. An ‘80s mood comes in via velvet cocktail dresses, metallic taffetas and checks and tartans (either Sloaney or punkish depending on the wearer’s perspective), while Victoriana elements also punctuate the collection: note the poet-sleeve blouses and modest, high neck dresses. Contrast is essential as ever. Heightened femininity is downplayed by off-kilter detailing like mismatched waistlines and asymmetric necklines. Autumn-Winter 2018 And party pieces – gold, fuchsia and blue taffetas; metallic floral jacquards and plisses; frothy flocked tulle – are intended to be worn playfully, even casually. Many of these pieces are layered over high-waisted, slim-fit jogging pants.
In velvet or tartan wool, they are a new shape for the brand and add a relaxed energy to even the most glamorous of pieces. This is the modern approach to getting dressed up: the rules do not apply. This season marks the debut of Isa Arfen denim. True blue, straight leg jeans in Japanese denim has the signature irreverence courtesy of tartan knee-patches and turn-ups and velvet ribbons sewn onto the waistband which tie in a bow at the front. Outerwear is the centerpiece of AW18. Wrap-belt coats come in forest green and camel wool, and a neat, double breasted coat with collar both refined and subtly rebellious thanks to the shocking pillar-box red hue. Swaddling teddy bear faux furs – with or without sleeves – make a striking statement in mustard and bottle green.
The reworked trench, an Isa Arfen signature, this season comes in an oversized cut with puffed sleeves. Accessories complete the collection’s mood of odd elegance. Jewellery is fashioned from nuts, bolts and hardware, a homage to Bauhaus weaver Anni Albers. Chunky platforms ground each look and oversized berets by Prudence, top them off with a New Romantic, almost surreal spin.