Sophia Webster knows how to create an escape. In previous seasons, we’ve seen her turn spaces into a mermaid-occupied launderette, complete with girls lounging in clam shells, surrounded by pearls; a Tim Burton-inspired gothic church; and a tropical rainforest with caged models as birds of paradise.
For AW17, Webster transformed the basement of Soho record shop Phonica into an ice-cold winter wonderland for her latest collection, ‘I Scream for Ice Queens’. Staying true to her playful, tongue-in-cheek aesthetic, we were transported to a snow-covered scape with larger-than-life snow globes, where her models reigned on thrones of ice.
As we walked through inches of snow, we were treated to sounds spun by Emerald Rose Lewis, who stood in front of a projection of China’s multicoloured Harbin Ice Festival – one of Sophia’s influences this season – neon lights and ice sculptures. The designer’s other influence? “Frozen. I’ve got a 2-and-a-half-year-old little girl, and she’s just getting into Elsa and Anna.”
With glittering pastels, icy whites and blues running through the collection, there were speech bubble clutch bags reading ‘Melt Me’, ‘Ice, Ice, Baby’ and ‘Cooler than Cool’, regal headpieces straight from Narnia, and snowboots ready for the Arctic. Then there were the show-stoppers: the Ice Queen thigh-high boots which combined Sophia’s signature jewel- and gem-adorned footwear with armour-like chain mail and silver, iridescent over-the-knee boots, emblazoned with ‘Hot Like Fire’ and ‘Cold Like Ice’ in flashing LED lights. According to Webster, these were “a labour of love, my team in Brazil and I spent a long time working out the wiring for that”.
The shoe designer, whose presentations are always an Instagrammable delight, had an incredible 2016 with the opening of her flagship store on London’s Mount Street and her first foray into bags and accessories. An alumna of Cordwainers College at the London College of Fashion, Webster went on to work as an apprentice under Nicholas Kirkwood before winning the British Fashion Award for Emerging Accessories Designer in 2013.
With a more pared-down colour palette this season, Sophia explained: “As a brand known for colour, for some time I’ve wanted to use a more minimalist backdrop, and a snowy landscape was the perfect scenario. It’s unexpected territory for me to showcase products against white, but visualising this gave me new perspective.” So, who is Webster’s Ice Queen? “She’s frosty, fierce and fearless.” We can’t argue with that.