Marrying a traditional Italian design aesthetic with a quirky London kick, Isa Arfen is a fun yet elegant new label. Founded by Central Saint Martin's graduate Serafina Sama in late 2011, the brand brings us unique and irreverent designs. Growing up in Ravenna, Italy, Serafina came to launch her own label via stints at Marni, Lanvin and Marc Jacobs. She settled at Chloé as a design assistant for two years before packing up her needle and thread to make the move to London. Snapped up for freelance projects for Chloé, Louis Vuitton, Acne and Charlotte Olympia, Serafina's strong design background is evident in her directional silhouettes, bold colours and intricate embellisments.
Could you explain the concept behind the brand?
The whole idea is to start building a wardrobe of pieces that can be combined to create a look that feels sophisticated, desirable but with a relaxed attitude.
Can you tell us about your design background?
While studying at Central Saint Martins, I interned at Marni, Lanvin and Marc Jacobs. After graduating I moved to Paris to work for Chloé for two years then returned to London to start a family.
Where do you look for inspiration?
It is a cliché but especially here in London it is easy to find inspiration behind every corner. I feel lucky to live in a city that offers so much: exhibitions, libraries, vintage markets, people on the street. I have sometimes stopped to photograph old ladies at bus stops because I loved the way they wore their trench coats.
You are from Italy but live in London and have worked in Paris, which city do you feel has the greatest influence on your design aesthetic?
Living in London has had a huge influence on my development as a designer. Having said that, I grew up in Ravenna surrounded by really strong female figures, with very eclectic personal styles, and this will always be a reflected in my aesthetic.
Who is the Isa Arfen girl?
She is a real woman: sophisticated, confident but without craving attention. Someone who is passionate about clothes and likes to have fun with them.
What are your design signatures?
Clean shapes in contrasting proportions. High waists, cropped tops, oversize coats, all to be layered over a button-down shirt.
Who are your greatest influences?
My mum, my aunt and the girls in early Nineties Paolo Roversi photographs.
What can we expect from the Isa Arfen label in the next 3-5 years?
Lots and lots of more beautiful clothes. Accessories, jewellery let’s see what happens…
What’s your favourite piece you’ve designed to date?
I love the embroidered sweatshirts, shantung culottes and oversize coats from SS13, which will be available at Opening Ceremony and www.thecorner.com .
What can we expect for Isa Arfen autumn/winter 2013?
More layers, more coats and a more sensual silhouette.