If there's one thing you can be sure of at London Fashion Week, it's that Sophia Webster will create a magical world of her own and invite you to step inside. In previous seasons, we've seen ice queens ruling a winter wonderland and delicate fairies perching on gigantic flowers in a botanical woodland. For her AW18 presentation, she arguably went bigger and brighter than ever, inviting guests to shimmy their way through a joyous ballroom, soundtracked to a mash-up of jazz classics like "Tequila Song" by The Champs and the Spice Girls.
Webster's inspiration this season was two-fold. "My sister and I used to watch Baz Luhrmann's Strictly Ballroom over and over as children," the designer explained. The film's central character, Tina Sparkle, could be seen emulated throughout Webster's presentation, from the crystal fruit embellishment on the highest-heeled dancing shoes, to the opulent beaded clutch bags and fuchsia satin stilettos.
Webster's biggest inspiration, however, came from her own youth. The footwear and accessories designer danced competitively for many years, winning awards and trophies for rock'n'roll to the foxtrot, and her choice of outfit, shoes and accessories was essential to being noticed by the judges. "My sister and I would spend months thinking about what colour we'd wear, as you had to stand out from the other dancers on the floor," she told Refinery29. "I was always thinking of unique colour combinations, and I think that has generally infiltrated the way I design and the colours I put together – but this was the collection that I wanted to really go for it with."
One of the locations where Webster danced competitively as a child was the iconic Blackpool Tower Ballroom, and its sumptuous Rococo ceiling has inspired many a peep-toed sandal. Webster wanted to bring the character of the dance hall to London by hosting her presentation at the Hotel Café Royal's Pompadour Ballroom, where models shone on podiums, kicking out their bedazzled feet and shimmering beneath the light of the room's disco ball.
Walls were lined with the very trophies Sophia and her sister won – "They've been in my mum's garage for 20 years" – her new collection sitting prettily among the retro memorabilia of a youth spent tapping toes and throwing jazz hands. Highlights included a pair of black satin open-back kitten heels, complete with Webster's signature butterfly embellishment, and a baby-pink pair of caged and studded heels, topped off with a cloud of feathers.
Of course, it wouldn't be a Sophia Webster collection without a tongue-in-cheek statement bag, and this season she brought us gilded-handled speech bubble bags stitched with the words 'Groove is in the heart'. Sweet mini bucket bags with 3D flying insects, and pearl-heeled two-strapped shoes completed the line.
Outside, two ballroom dancers tangoed their way across the hotel's terrace beneath a Coca-Cola billboard – a reference to a scene from Luhrmann's film, and a brand Webster is currently collaborating with – while Joy Joseph performed live drumbeats in time with the joyful set list.
What was Webster's favourite ballroom outfit from her youth? "It was the last costume I wore before I stopped dancing," she told Refinery29. "It was a black lace crop top with matching leggings, and rainbow crystal beads on the waistband and calves. It was so cool, I loved it!" We may not have had the pleasure of seeing the designer recreating her best moves at the Hotel Café Royal, but her laser-cut, beaded and sparkle-clad collection made us long to spend a night on the tiles. And isn't that exactly the point?