The London label Isa Arfen
launched last season with a well-formed point of view. Designer Serafina Sama's clothes were relatable and sophisticated, with a winning touch of the eccentric; Sama has a nuanced sense of color and material, and an intriguing way of layering strong silhouettes. But the really refreshing thing about that debut collection was that it was essentially gimmick-free. This time out, Sama repeated herself—a smart strategy for a new designer. Her latest collection reiterated several key shapes, such as long culottes, slouchy trenchcoats, and twisted crop tops, and elaborated other established themes in new, winter-friendly ways. A double-breasted alpaca coat, for example, echoed the slouchy cut of the trench; her signature trim pants were done in wool and a vinyl-like technical silk. There were some new ideas, too: This collection emphasized a long, lean silhouette, with pencil skirts and narrow shifts, and Sama was up to something interesting with her "denim" looks made of wool. She also made a couple of fantastic coats from colorful Steiff teddy-bear fur. At first, it was hard to see the news in this collection, because all of the development was so organic. That's the mark of a designer who knows what she's about.