Sophia Webster Wins British Fashion Award


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Sophia Webster, center, receiving the British Fashion Council/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund prize. From left, Caroline Rush, chief executive of the fashion council; Ms. Webster; and Alexandra Shulman, editor of British Vogue.

LONDON — Sophia Webster, the London-based accessories designer best known for her eye for color and playfully eccentric statement footwear, won the 2016 British Fashion Council/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund prize Tuesday night.

Ms. Webster, who had been in the running for the prize last year and had won the competition’s Emerging Accessories Designer Award in 2013, beat a shortlist that included Prism, Mother of Pearl, Osman and Emilia Wickstead.

The fund provides one designer with a £200,000 grant (about $288,000) and access to 12 months of director-level mentoring from some of the biggest editors, buyers and brands in fashion. Established in 2008, it shares hallmarks with the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund prize, which Anna Wintour helped establish in 2003.

“I am so speechless, I just can’t believe it,” Ms. Webster said. “This award is going to help us so much and at such a crucial moment in the development of the Sophia Webster brand.”

She is a graduate of the Royal College of Art and shoemaking institution Cordwainers and the second woman to win the prize. The announcement was made at the Bulgari Hotel in London.

Ms. Webster said of the award: “For one thing, we are going to be able to get new offices, given we are bursting out of our current ones, and fund our own stand-alone store. I am just overwhelmed by what this means, both for me and my team, and so proud of what we have achieved and been rewarded for.”

Previous winners of the prize include Mary Katrantzou, Christopher Kane, Peter Pilotto and Ms. Webster’s onetime mentor, Nicholas Kirkwood, all of whom have gone on to grow their businesses internationally and attract new investment after taking home the award.

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Models pose at the Sophia Webster fall 2016 presentation during London Fashion Week in February.

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Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images

Caroline Rush, one of the competition’s judges and chief executive of the British Fashion Council, said: “It was such a tough decision process. It has been every year, frankly. But ultimately we felt that Sophia, as well as being a fantastic designer, also had such a strong understanding of what the drivers of her business were and how she could grow it in the long term. The judges were confident that she would give us the strongest return on investment on our decision this year.”

Other members of the committee this year included Alexandra Shulman, editor of British Vogue; the designer Victoria Beckham; Joan Burstein, founder of the London concept boutique Browns; and Samantha Cameron, the British Fashion Council ambassador and the wife of Prime Minister David Cameron.

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A Sophia Webster “speech bubble” clutch from the fall 2016 collection.

Credit
Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images

Earlier this month, Ms. Webster unveiled her first full handbag line and her plans to open a boutique on Mayfair’s Mount Street. She has consistently turned heads with her kitschy yet chic aesthetic.

Entitled ‘“I Myself, Am Strange and Unusual,” her most recent presentation at London Fashion Week, in February, was themed around the 1988 gothic movie “Beetlejuice,” and included cutaway satin thigh-high boots, rainbow-hued stilettos and her signature “speech bubble” clutch, embroidered with the words “Wifey for Lifey” and “To Die For.”

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