It’s shoes news! River Island’s latest hit

05 May 2010

Since River Island set up the genius ‘Design Forum’ collection at the beginning of this year to celebrate their 6th anniversary as the sponsor of Graduate Fashion Week, the different ranges as designed by the rising stars of the fashion world have dropped in store each and every month fast becoming the high street’s hottest tickets. Originally River Island had planned for a new drop each month until Graduate Fashion Week arrived in June, but the students' designs have proven to be so popular, the concept will continue into the foreseeable future. Yippee!

After all, the idea of owning the first dress from a future Marc Jacobs or court shoe from a soon-to-be Jimmy Choo ain’t half bad. Grazia magazine recently featured student Caroline Pambakian’s white cable knit mini dress, but now we’re hooked on RI’s latest arrival – footwear from 25 year old Sophia Grace. From summer flats to party stilettos - the fluro ziggy zag trims, leopard print, studding and bows have cemented Sophia’s status as the createur of the most exciting shoes we’ve seen in a long time - and we see a lot of shoes! Want to know more? We caught up with Sophia to see how River Island life is treating her…


Grazia Daily: Hi Sophia. So, first things first, how did you come to study shoe-making? And how did those eagle eyed trend spotters at River Island discover you?

Sophia Grace: I have always been really artistic but growing up did not really know how to channel my creativity. It was only when I was doing my Foundation in Art at Camberwell College that I started drawing shoes. Instantly I knew that it was for me. I did my degree in footwear at Cordwainers College which is the shoe-making part of London College of Fashion. I graduated with first class honours in 2008, winning the Cordwainers' Award of Excellence and was offered a place on the footwear specialism of the MA Womenswear at the Royal College of Art. There are only two places for footwear and Manolo Blahnik is a visiting tutor so naturally I did not take much persuading! I have had a really great two years at the Royal College, I was awarded the Drapers' Student Footwear Designer of the Year in 2009, and won the Browns Shoe Award and will have a small capsule collection go on sale in Browns later this year. I was also awarded the "River Island MA bursary" which gave me the chance to design this collection for their Design Forum label. I am currently in my last year at the Royal College working on my final collection which I will show in June.

GD: Wow! You are one sought after lady. Pretty much every style conscious girl has a (huge) soft spot for shoes, so what is it about footwear that you so love?

SG: I love that shoes can make all women, no matter what they are like, look and feel fabulous. I love the relationship between women and shoes, and how different pairs have different personalities; the trusty heels that you can wear all day and know you will be comfortable, the two-faced ones that look amazing when you first put them on but by the end of the night you’re in agony.

GD: Where does your design inspiration come from for this collection and how do you usually find it?

SG: This collection was my first opportunity for women to actually buy my shoes so I wanted to create a collection that was very me, so it had to be very pink, very girly but with an attitude. I have a serious obsession with bows, so I played around with paper working out different ways of layering and then added the metal stud detailing which I think give the bows a harder edge. I wanted to design the shoes inside-out so the linings and sock detail are as interesting and thoughtful as the shoes themselves. I find inspiration in everything, London is so diverse and colourful there is always something that grabs my attention and makes me stop and take notes. I also love doodling, often if I sit and doodle for ages something magical appears!

GD: What do you think is the most iconic shoe of all time?

SG: The obvious answer would be the mock-croc Westwood heels that Naomi Campbell fell over in. But from a more personal perspective, when I was little my big sister had these black jelly Patrick Cox sandals that had a miniature Eiffel Tower in the heel, they were amazing! I used to watch her getting ready to go out and when she put them on I thought she was the coolest sister ever.

GD: What do you predict are going to be summer's biggest shoe hits?

SG: I think the kitten heel will make a big comeback. Shoes have got so high and platforms have gone completely mad, so naturally heels will get lower again.

GD: The whole world is going nuts over the fast approaching release of Sex and The City sequel and we all know that Carrie Bradshaw is of course a major shoe addict. What would you design for her? Of course they'd be heels, right?!

SG: I too am going nuts over the sequel, I can’t wait! For Carrie, yes it would have to heels. I would love to see her in a design I am making for my MA collection. They are multicoloured, strappy stilettos. Fun, feminine and fabulous, just like Carrie! 

GD: You can always rely on River Island for fashion forward accessories and some of the shoes this season are a real statement. What advice would you give for girls to confidently rock a pair of really fabulous heels?

SG: I would say the most important tip is to strut with confidence and look like you have somewhere really important to get to or failing that just imagine you’re on the catwalk in the final of America's Next Top Model! Also, a clever trick is to wear stilettos with ankle straps if you are not used to really high heels or feel unsteady. River Island have a lot of shoes in this summer with ankle cuffs which are really good for giving extra support.

GD: And finally, we have to know... Which pair of your River Island Design Forum heels have you worn the most?

SG: I have been wearing the clear perspex /black suede pair with the studded bow. They are mid-heights so perfect for day and I can dress them up in the evening. I love the clear uppers, not only do they go with everything but when I look down at my feet all I can see is this huge bow!

By Hannah Almassi, Junior Fashion News Editor



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