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unconventional love

SERAFINA SAMA / ISA ARFEN

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unconventional love unFlop | unconventional love
4 JULY 2018

SERAFINA SAMA / ISA ARFEN


Name: Serafina Sama

Profession: Founder and Fashion Designer at ISA ARFEN

Country Of Birth: Ravenna, Italy

Country Of Residence: London

Online Identity: isaarfen.com

@isa_arfen (Instagram)

@Isa_Arfen (Twitter)

@isaarfen (Facebook)


How would someone who knows you describe you?

Introverted, Day-Dreamer, Messy, Stubborn and Determined.


What constitutes the Isa Arfen's design aesthetic? 

My design aesthetic is feminine, I hope sophisticated, but always relaxed and spontaneous, I would say. I want it to be desirable and slightly eccentric, but still relatable, comfortable, realistic and humorous. 


What prompted you to become a Fashion Designer, and how Is it to be a fashion designer nowadays? 

Since I was little, I have always been fascinated with drawing little girls in different outfits. When I got a bit older, and I realized that this passion could become a career I couldn’t think of anything more exciting to do. 

When I first heard of Central Saint Martins, I got fixated, that that’s where I wanted to go. And so it happened.

Being a fashion designer today can be exciting and stimulating; I love the aspect of my work where I get to collaborate, meet, and create with other creatives from all different walks of life, who I admire. I have a great relationship with my stylist, and I appreciate so much the constructive and thought-provoking exchange of ideas and how we get to learn from each other; It’s invigorating. 

The truth is that I feel lucky to do what I love; it’s about embracing my reality, even the aspects of anxiety and doubt that come with the nature of being a fashion designer in today’s fast-paced fashion industry. 


Can you share with us the winning cards and main characteristics of your new AW1819 Women Collection? 

The New AW18/19 Women Collection is very eclectic, playful, ironic, and irreverent. For me, the most successful piece is the cotton trench coat with tartan wool sleeves and collar. I like it because it reveals a mix of eccentricity, wearability, and playfulness. 


If every collection of yours is your teacher, what have you learned so far? 

I am always learning; I am learning every single day. 

I think that every collection tests my limits and prompts me to evolve and get out of my comfort zone. It’s a process of self-discovery and growth. 

Every season is also a big test in terms of being patient and staying calm, especially when things don’t turn out as you expect, and you need to be able to come up with solutions as well as compromise.


Italian born, working and living in London; What has brought you to London, and what keeps you there? 

Initially, I wanted to come to London because of the impression it had left on me, the first time I visited it. That sense of freedom to be how you want to be and free to express oneself, as opposed to the small society of Ravenna, my hometown. 

What keeps me here, is that London is an exciting city, and so very inspiring. I love its aliveness and high energy; I love how there is a lot of diversity and how all these different cultures blend, but at the same time how everyone is still allowed and welcomed to express their individuality, rather than frowned upon. 


Are there specific materials that you like to work with?

I love researching materials, so every season I have a lot of fun using and playing with new materials. I also love contrasts, so for example, if a collection includes heavy and opaque materials, then I look to add an antithesis through something shiny and light. 

I generally like materials that are borderline 80’s kitsch, such as tule and velvet, which can be fun, provided one has a sense of humor.

The same goes for colors. I don’t have a particular favorite, but I do like to play with contrasting shades. When I put together the color palette for every season, I try to keep a balance, but at the same time, I try to throw something in that is a bit off and creates an odd combination. I guess I like things that look a bit off sometimes. 


Without fear of being eclectic and with a light and playful approach to proportions, your leitmotivs are asymmetric volant dresses, ultra-feminine tops - often enriched with knots - that leave the shoulders uncovered. Why the shoulders? 

Because I think that the shoulders are one of those body parts that most people feel comfortable with, irrespective of their body shape and age. Leaving the shoulders uncovered can make one feel feminine, it’s versatile and can appeal to a vast range of women. 


What’s your favorite part on your body? 

I know what my least favorite parts are (she laughs…). 

I guess I love my toned shoulders and arms, and my small waist. I believe that I have more of a 50’s retro body type. 


What is your take on Eco-Fashion? 

Eco-Fashion is an important conversation to have and a notion towards which everyone should start taking steps. Sustainability takes awareness and responsibility both on a personal and a collective level.

I still have long ways to go; Currently, I source my materials mostly from Italy, and I try to work with natural fibers rather than synthetics. Additionally, as a consumer, I firmly believe that is important to buy less and buy better. 


Personal happiness is... 

Being with my family; sharing moments with my son and my husband without worrying about anything else. 


What do you most value in your friends?

Honesty, loyalty, empathy, and a sense of humor. 


In your opinion, which is the most overrated virtue nowadays? 

To have a lot of followers on the social media and to get a lot of likes. 


The greatest advice you ever got? 

More than a piece of advice per se, I remember reading an article that was talking about our inner 8-year-old child, that is so spontaneous, confident and free, and how to be creative and be happy, one needs to be able to reconnect with that 8-year-old inner child. I try to do so, but I don’t always succeed; nevertheless is still is a good exercise to return to and keep practicing. 


What’s your take on our today’s thin-is-in and image-focused culture?

It’s quite troubling especially for younger teenagers, who on top of going through the insecurities and adjustments that come with being a teenager, they also have to deal with the pressure of meeting the culture’s status quo. 

That said, I see a positive movement and inclusiveness that gradually unravels; There are women out there who are role models and activists, embracing all different body sizes. That is the direction we need to go for: To learn how to embrace our natural body shape, and accept our natural weight, and overall who we are. 


What are the standards (if any) for the Isa Arfen Model casting process? 

The truth is that I try everything on myself, so the sample sizes are my size. 

Sometimes I happen to cast models who are too thin, and the clothes seem too big on them, so, if they are not healthy, I tend not to use them. 

My goal is to have a diverse casting; I don’t want my cast to look like an army of identical models. I like them to instead look like a gang of friends, with all different personalities. 


Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

I would say proportions and relaxed.


What do women want today? 

I think they want to feel comfortable in their skin; they want to feel confident and free to live their lives as they choose. Women today seek functionality, and versatility, in things that make them feel good.


If you could be any piece of garment, what would you be?

I would probably be an outerwear piece, which is protective but with a sense of mystery, as you don’t quite know what’s underneath and there may be various layers to go through and discover… 


Which are your personal goals? 

My goal would be to continue doing what I am doing by adopting a healthier approach, and finding a better balance between my work and my personal life. I would like to slow down and pace myself, in a way that allows me to have more time to attend and dedicate to each piece and my creative process in general. 


What’s up next for Isa Arfen?

I am in the process of working on the Isa Arfen’s E-Commerce platform, which I am planning to launch in September. I am also working on my next collection, inspired by my childhood memories of Italian Summer. 


Interview/Editor: Annie Markitanis



Pictures credits

1. ©Isa Arfen, SS18 & AW1819 Collections Moodboard
2. ©Isa Arfen, AW1819 Collection, Show
3. ©Isa Arfen, AW1819 Collection, Backstage
4. ©Isa Arfen, AW1819 Collection, Show
5. ©Isa Arfen, AW1819 Collection, Backstage
6. ©Isa Arfen, AW1819 Collection, Show
7. ©Isa Arfen, AW1819 Collection, Backstage
8. ©Isa Arfen, AW1819 Collection, Show
9. ©Isa Arfen, AW1819 Collection, Backstage
10. ©Isa Arfen, AW1819 Collection, Show
11. ©Isa Arfen, AW1819 Collection, Backstage
12. ©Isa Arfen, AW1819 Collection, Show
13. ©Isa Arfen, AW1819 Collection, Backstage
14. ©Isa Arfen, AW1819 Collection, Show
15. ©Isa Arfen, AW1819 Collection, Backstage
16. ©Isa Arfen, AW1819 Collection, Show
17. ©Isa Arfen, AW1819 Collection, Backstage
18. ©Isa Arfen, AW1819 Collection, Backstage
19. ©Isa Arfen, AW1819 Collection, Show
20. ©Isa Arfen, AW1819 Collection, Backstage
21. ©Isa Arfen, AW1819 Collection, Show
22. ©Isa Arfen, AW1819 Collection, Backstage
23. ©Isa Arfen, AW1819 Collection, Show
24. ©Isa Arfen, AW1819 Collection, Backstage
25. ©Isa Arfen, AW1819 Collection, Show
26. ©Isa Arfen, AW1819 Collection, Backstage
27. ©Isa Arfen, AW1819 Collection, Backstage
28. ©Isa Arfen, AW1819 Collection, Backstage
29. ©Isa Arfen, AW1819 Collection, Show
30.  ©Isa Arfen, AW1819 Collection, Backstage
31. ©Isa Arfen, AW1819 Collection, Show
32. ©Isa Arfen, AW1819 Collection, Backstage
33. ©Isa Arfen, AW1819 Collection, Backstage
34. ©Isa Arfen, AW1819 Collection, Backstage
35. ©Isa Arfen, AW1819 Collection, Backstage
36. ©Isa Arfen, AW1819 Collection, Backstage
37. ©Isa Arfen, AW1819 Collection, Backstage
38. ©Isa Arfen, AW1819 Collection Sketches
39. ©Isa Arfen,  AW1819 Collection, Mood
40. ©Isa Arfen SS18 Backstage



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