Brand Focus: Sophia Webster

Sophia Webster’s description of her work as “colourful, fun and feminine” does not do justice to the exciting eccentricity of her brand. It has taken this British designer less than three years to rise to the top of the shoe-game, with her heels now coveted by the celebs, bloggers and magazines across the world of fashion.

In September 2012, Sophia Webster showcased her first collection of footwear, “Welcome to the Dollhouse”. Her models stood in constructed boxes, like giant Barbies with their perfectly co-ordinated selection of accessories, straight from the toy store. Candy tones and bubble-gum pinks amongst panels of stripes, polka dots and girly hearts evoked a Malibu Barbie style which has prevailed in all her collections since.

sw5Images L-R: Sophia Webster SS13, Sophia Webster ‘Riri’; now exhibited at the V&A, Jennifer Lopez wearing Sophia Webster Sandals

Despite championing popping colours and kooky designs, Webster maintains a feminine delicateness in all her shoes so that above all, they seem fit for a princess or a fairy-tale. Flamingos, checked prints and glitter prompt reminders of an otherworldly, Alice in Wonderland theme. Vogue on the other hand, once looked at the pompoms and expressions adorning her collections (“MISS THANG” shout one pair of heels) and described it as “pulling on our teenage heartstrings”. In one interview she was once asked how many times she had seen clueless; “Do you really want me to answer that? I don’t even think I can”, she laughed.

The shoes set for this season- Autumn/ Winter ’15, entitled “Freak Like Me”- embolden Webster’s usual sassiness, with a little touch of tomboy. This collection features punky tartan patterns alongside sweeter looking, petite heels with heart embellished toes. Audacious leopard-print boots which lace all the way up to your thigh stand tall in comparison to booties with teetering, stiletto heels and a delicate mesh upper, layered with glittery leopard spots.

sw2Images: Sophia Webster AW15 (Vogue)

 “My shoes are for women who want to express their personality through their shoes and will appreciate and enjoy them.” – Sophia Webster (Vogue)

With Webster’s hard-working ethic comes four additional collections this season. In “Runway AW15”, “Bridal”, “Angel-wings” and “Barbie” Webster revisits her signature motifs. The pop-pink world of Barbie –from her first official collection- and the iridescent daintiness of her butterfly designs –from her final collection at the Royal College of Art- prevail. Thoughtful details, such as “WIFEY” “FOR LIFEY” imprinted across the two respective soles of some her bridal heels, are characteristically charming.

sw3All Images from Vogue, L-R:  Sophie Webster Bridal, Sophia Webster SS16, Sophia Webster Barbie Collection 

But Webster is both shoemaker and artist. Having thoroughly enjoyed the sculpture aspect at Camberwell College of Arts in London, she went on to specialise in shoes at Cordwainer’s College at The London College of Fashion and completed her higher education with a Masters at The Royal Academy of Art. The artistic creativity thrills her, as she’s said, “I think that because my first love was always art, the sketching process is what I find most enjoyable and interesting”. Indeed, Webster’s comprehensive background in art means that there is just as much beauty in every hand-drawn drawing as in the final shoe created. As well as this, her time working alongside Nicholas Kirkwood as an assistant only inspired and encouraged her talents further, with her citing the iconic shoemaker as an “incredible mentor” in an interview with The Style Report.

 “The thing I admire the most about any designer is the way they draw” – Sophia Webster (Vogue)

sw4In 2013, only less than a year after that first collection, Condé Nast named Webster “Emerging Footwear Designer of the Year” while The Times put her on their New Power List as someone to watch. In the same year she was awarded the esteemed “Emerging Accessories Designer” at one of Fashion’s most important events, the British Fashion Awards.

In 2013, Webster was not underestimated, returning once again as a nominee for the British Fashion Awards under “Accessory Designer”. Forget ‘emerging’, Webster has already emerged. Her RiRi heels- designed especially for Rihanna- went on display recently at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London as part of their “Shoes: Pleasure and Pain” exhibition. The rest of her designs have been spotted on numerous A-Listers, from Cara Delevingne to Anna Dello Russo- need we point out that Anna’s job as Editor-at-large at Vogue Japan naturally establishes her as a fashionable figure of authority.

In an impressively short time of three years between that first collection and “Freak Like Me”, Sophia Webster has earned her nomination as “Accessory Designer” of the year. She has truly captured the Barbie girl in all of us.

Mamie Hamshere

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