'Dreamgirls' and butterflies: The woman behind fashion's most whimsical shoes

Updated 2nd December 2016
'Dreamgirls' and butterflies: The woman behind fashion's most whimsical shoes
This feature is part of Masters at Work, a new series that goes behind the scenes with leading creatives to discover the source of their inspiration. See more here.
"I think shoes are really powerful. I think they have magical powers that other accessories don't have," says shoe designer Sophia Webster. "They make you physically look like the best version of yourself."
Shoe designer Sophia Webster
Shoe designer Sophia Webster Credit: Courtesy Hazlett Beard
Webster is one of the UK's most acclaimed young design talents.
Since starting her eponymous line in 2012, the 31-year-old has been named Condé Nast Footwear Emerging Designer of the Year, won the British Fashion Award for Emerging Accessories Designer twice, and taken home the British Fashion Council's Vogue Fashion Fund award, becoming only the second shoe designer to earn the honor.
Webster's signature style -- feminine, fantastical shoes that are heavy on embellishment and color -- draws on diverse sources for inspiration. Her collections channel "Beetlejuice" one season, Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds" and '60s girl groups the next.

A blank canvas

While the majority of her shoes are constructed in Brazil and sold in over 200 stores around the world, the design process still begins at Webster's East London studio, where she draws and conceptualizes every shoe.
"I really love putting together unexpected color combinations. I like to try and be experimental and exciting in the ways that I combine colors and prints," she says.
A graduate of London's prestigious Royal College of Art, she looks at the shoe as "a blank canvas."
"Coming from a fine art background definitely makes me approach shoes in maybe a different way to other designers," she explains. "I usually start designing my collections from the most elaborate pieces and then trickle down into more wearable lower styles.
"I just try and be as creative as I can within the space and the technicalities of the shoemaking."
Watch the video above for further insight into the work of Sophia Webster.