Citation: Sophia Webster
"Graduations at DMU are an opportunity to bring into our university family admirable talents from diverse fields and background who nonetheless hold something in common: they use what they have to add to the lives of others.
"The distinguished guest we honour now is a designer – a dreamer and a doodler – a doer and a maker – summoning into our often drab reality something in sadly short supply: fun, colour, wit and glamour, in the shape of bold and beautiful shoes so stylish they’re been described as ‘almost edible’ and ‘wearable sculpture’. Her name and label is Sophia Webster
"People privileged to put their feet in Sophia Webster’s hands want shoes that let them step lightly and confidently, and answer the wicked world’s clunky trip-hazards with a clicking-clacking walk of life. Like Fred and Ginger, George Best and Fonteyn, Sophia Webster proves that something in the feet can express something in the very soul.
"It starts with her hands. She is an avowed admirer of designers who draw ‘because my first love was always art’; her own designs are all hand-drawn and conceptualised. In a way that our creative students would completely understand, from their experiences here, young Sophia sharpened her raw talent for fine art with an education that shaped her craft, and with industry experience that makes daring daydreams viable – and therefore buyable. Her eponymous brand is sold in 200-plus high-end shops, and a Sophia Webster flagship shop stands in London’s fashionable Mayfair.
"On her way up she studied, apprenticed, trained and worked alongside both the established and the edgy, with ancient Cordwainers and Jimmy Choo, among others – names and titles familiar to those studying, working and displaying as part of DMU Footwear courses; today Sophia joins Choo as recipient on an honorary DMU degree.
"Other prizes, from peers and publications, are too numerous for us to fit comfortably here. Outlining the ultimate endorsement – celebrities slipping into Sophia Websters for their touch-down on red carpets – would require a list a foot long. Like one our own graduates, she’s been worn by Beyonce. Rihanna, Chloe Moretz and Mariah Carey have donned her designs. Oprah gave her ‘time’s up’ Golden Globes speech wearing Webster. Sometime you want to feel right when you’re doing what’s right.
"But for all the red carpet action, there’s something grounded too about Sophia Webster, person and brand. She offers internship opportunities and has employed DMU students. Student Georgia Battell – who won the DMU Chancellor shoe-design competition – worked for Sophia Webster after graduation. The shoes aren’t just pretty confections, they’re pretty darn good – put together with smart technical skills, shrewd awareness of which the way the world is walking, and real empathy for women – working with what they are and want, not fantasies of what they aren’t.
"Sophia Webster, for butterfly wings that pack a punch; for your inspiring industry presence; and for making sparkling style fashionable, we are pleased to make you an Honorary Doctor of Design."