Photography by Oda Eide
Sophie Paxton couldn't be further from a fashion cliché. Her journey to success is one of true passion, grit and determination and undeniable inspiration. Having identified her calling in fashion at an early age, Sophie worked tirelessly to break into the industry, climbing her way up the ladder to success whilst also fighting a life threatening illness and battle for her health along the way.
Sophie is a fashion editor and stylist and currently holds the title of Fashion Merchandise Editor at ES Magazine. Here she gives us an exclusive insight inside her world and tells us just how she got to where she is and overcame her illness, all whilst managing to remain endlessly positive and infectiously happy.
We could not be prouder to have her as a Sophie Lis Girl and had such a fun afternoon taking a peak behind the scenes into her beautiful apartment, learning some fabulous styling, shopping and home decor tips.
Framed picture is a gift from her brother and his girlfriend - a story board of Torban's proposal to Sophie. Lamp is from Kartell and wooden cat, a gift from Torban from Budapest.
1.) Can you give me a brief summary of your career to date and anything outside of this which has been of significant influence in your life?
I joined college after leaving school and enrolled on a BTEC Fashion Design course. It all went from there! The revelation of writing an essay about something I am actually passionate about was ground breaking. I then went to The Arts Institute in Bournemouth where I studied for my degree and specialised in Styling. After graduating I did what the rest of the industry does and intern for what felt like forever! I eventually started at ES Magazine as an intern and where I still work today.
Unfortunately, when I was still a Fashion Assistant at the age of 25, I was on holiday in Thailand where I sufferered a seizure right at the end of my trip. After spending a night in intensive care in a hospital in Bangkok, I was told I had an AVM (Arterio Venus Malformation) in my brain and I had to return to the UK for treatment - either surgery or radiotherapy.
Four days before I was meant to meet the surgeon to discuss the options I had a huge stroke. I was rushed to hospital where they didn't think there was any chance I would survive and prepared my family for the worst, a high chance of death or the possibility of a constant vegetable state if I were to survive. I was rescued by my amazing surgeon and luckily they removed the clot and the AVM with brain surgery. I woke after being in a coma for four days to find I was completely paralysed on the left side and unable to do anything.
It took six months of living in hospital to learn to eat, dress and go to the bathroom. I Ieft that June walking out, unaided with just a stick. My recovery is still an ongoing process and even now I can't use my left arm but I am still improving and I never let it stop me. I don't know many people that haven't experienced some sort of adversity and the way I see it is that everyone is born with a certain amount of bad luck. Some people stub their toe everyday and some people get their bad luck in big chunks. I just so happened to get mine all when I was 25! The main this is that anything is possible. People flew rockets into space, humans built pyramids... anything is possible! There is never an excuse and if you want something badly enough you have to make it happen.
2.) Has it always been clear to your that you were destined for a career in fashion?
My Mum wouldn't let me wear heals to primary school when everyone else did... BIG MISTAKE - this lead to the the biggest obsession of my life! However she did go to huge lengths to help me dress up as my favourite childhood icons such as Audrey Hepburn as Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady and Sally Ann Howes as Truly Scrumptious in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I'm not sure how many white net curtains we went through! My Mum, nanny and I have always been into clothes and used to talk at great lengths about them. They were also both very nifty on sewing machines which helped alot.
3.) How would you describe your style and does it change from work to leisure?
I would say its pretty simple and not overly feminine. I like strong, clean silhouettes and lots of monochrome, I am obsessed with stripes. If I am going out I like to wear something fairly oversized but with a nice detail that shows off one part of the body like shoulders or back rather than legs or chest. I think those are the most beautiful parts of a woman. To be honest, with any outfit, day or night my favourite accessory is a strong earring - I have so many piercings I need something to fill them!
Sophie wears Lightning Bolt Hoop and single gold hoop by Sophie Lis
4.) What are your absolute favourite, couldn't live without, go-to wardrobe staples?
Go to essentials would be my cropped raw edge Levi jeans, wide ribbed trouser from H&M, oversized black silk Topshop shirt and my simple black leather Finery jacket.
5.) Being at the forefront of the fashion industry with access to all the latest trends and launches, how do you decide what to buy and what to resist? Do you shop mainly online, in store or directly from the designers? Has your career changed your shopping habits?
To be totally honest I don't buy a lot of designer clothes, I tend to save my big purchases for shoes and bags. The reason for this is that I find I go through so many clothes and that the turnaround is so fast that I would rather accessorise my current outfits with top quality, timeless designer accessories instead. I do need to start investing in my wardrobe more but that would mean I would need to do all the washing as I couldn't trust my husband not to shrink things - another reason why I don't buy too many expensive clothes!
Dress is one of a kind, runway exclusive by Dolce & Gabbana worn by Sophie at one of the celebrations surrounding her wedding in Venice. Everyday favourite bags by Mulberry and Celine.
6.) What is the most special piece of jewellery in your collection and why? Is there significance or symbolism behind it?
I actually have five pieces which are hugely significant to me. A rose quartz heart on a chain that my godmother gave me when I was about 8 or 9 which I absolutely cherish. It is so simple but unbelievably beautiful. I don't wear it that often as I often choose earrings over necklaces but I love it. The second is a charm bracelet that my grand parents bought me when I was 21 which I added to for about six years and is now too heavy to wear! It is completely impractical as it catches on everything but holds so many memories as I bought charms from nearly ever country I went to at the time. I also have a big amber ring that my Dad had made for my 21st birthday which has bugs inside it which reminds me of my favourite film Jurassic Park. My Dad and I share a mutual love of jewellery and I think he has more rings than I do! Fourth is a ring made up of both my parents wedding rings - they divorced but decided to split the gold between me and my two brothers. Finally the fifth is a dragon head that I bought in Thailand a few hours before I fell ill. The original was made of nickel and started to go brown. My Dad wears it now but had it cast in silver for me and I love it. Some of my family think its a bad omen and I shouldn't wear it but it reminds me of what happened to me and that I might not be alive today or worse.
7.) What do you look for when buying jewellery for yourself and others?
As you can tell by my collection of jewellery, I am hugely sentimental about it and so when I select, I treat it in the same way. I take a lot of time to get to know people and though to some, jewellery is just an accessory, I know to others it can mean much more. I take my hat off to anyone who proposes with a ring, that is not an easy thing to choose at all! My husband nailed it with mine but I am not sure I could do the same for anyone else!
- What is your favourite symbol and do you have a good luck charm?
I really like the star and moon which tie in with my love for Sophie Lis jewellery. When I was little, there was a book my Mum read to me called half a moon and one whole star which I absolutely adored. I am also a huge cat fan so also like the outline of a cat's head.
Top left is a framed gift from friends. Top right photo of Sophie and her husband in Cinque Terre, Italy. Black and white images below of the couple on their wedding day.
8.) Describe your perfect night in London.
I think dinner with friends with lots of red wine outside in the sun. But then - a random unplanned drunken night out can lead you to the most random places which is always such fun. Who doesn't enjoy a drunken rickshaw ride through the streets of London?!
9.) Most likely to be found outside the office...
Hunting for home interiors. My husband hates it when I mention a casual stroll in Chiswick as he knows we will end up in vintage furniture shops and carrying something home. Once he had to carry a pearl inlay side table through the airport in Egypt because I found it for £30 and couldn't resist... poor guy! He says its an obsession, I say its a hobby!!
Wall photos of Sophie and her husband with friends together with two paintings they bought in Vietnam. Tulips where a gift from Sophie's Swedish nanny pictured with a frame of kisses from Sophie's hen. Words from Fields of Gold, Sophie and her father's favourite song.
10.) Love of your life?
My husband Torban. We have been together since I was 16 and no one makes me laugh as much as him. Our second love is our British Blue cat Pojke who most people think is evil but I think is just a bit misunderstood. Anyone with his good looks would be a little bit aloof!
Eiffel Tower was one of the table decorations which Sophie made for her wedding. Each table was a different place the couple had visited. Mother of peal coffee table is the one mentioned from Egypt which Sophie made Torban carry home.