In terms of aesthetic and the overall feel of a collection, Isa Arfen has yet to disappoint. When greeted with an invite that contains a small fabric swatch of polka dot on mesh, the image of feminine delicacy set the stage for this season’s Autumn/Winter presentation, where the distillation of masks and identity exemplified both exuberance and femininity. Influenced by Inga Morath’s 1950s and 60s portraits of Saul Steinburg’s surreal faces, as well as by Joan Riviere’s 1927 essay ‘Womanless as a Masquerade,’ the many dimensions of feminine identity were explored and played with, presenting a collection that was both playful and meaningful. Through tones of tango orange, olive green, Bellini pink, deep purple and acid green Arfen showed her view on how she sees a woman wearing clothes. Indeed, the clothes she chooses, were instigated through a battle between child-like nature and adult mindfulness: It is clear Arfen worked with the notion of showing a sense of enjoyment and playfulness in terms of what is understood as ‘fashion’, allowing the wearer to choose exactly how they would wish to wear the collection pieces and what character they would wish to portray. With colour and silhouette working together to almost work against each other, the use of a harlequin print inspired by artist Helen Bullock, allowed a certain level of charm to be felt by the observers, taking away the element of ‘serious fashion’, and allowing a sense of freedom of character to greet the audience. Arfen’s collection introduced a certain level of romance to the calibre of designer collections this season, drawing onlookers into a scene of femininity and classicalism, whereby these two elements collided with both play and their own eccentricity.
Words: Jasmine Banbury