For many young women, a love of shoes never moves beyond being a guilty pleasure.
But one 22-year-old from Bicester is blazing a career in her favourite item of clothing.
Former Bicester Community College pupil Laura Giles last week won a prestigious national award – Student Shoe Designer of the Year 2012.
The award is presented to just one student in footwear across the country.
Miss Giles said: “It feels amazing to have won – this is such a big award within the industry.
“We designed a range of footwear for the Marks & Spencer Limited Collection and were then judged on our work by a panel of experts.”
The Drapers Footwear and Accessories Awards are attended by the biggest shoe companies and designers in the country.
This year’s event was hosted at the Grosvenor Hotel in London last Thursday.
Miss Giles said: “Footwear is something I’ve wanted to design since I did my GCSEs and I first came across a shoe design, and thought ‘this is brilliant, this is
something I really want to do’.
“So I went and did a foundation course in art and design at Oxford and Cherwell Valley College and that was that really.”
Miss Giles is currently a student in footwear design at De Montford University in Leicester.
Last night, her dad Richard said: “We are very proud of her and what she has achieved.
“It’s a bit like the Oscars of the shoe world.
“At the awards ceremony, they said this was the most important award of the evening as it signalled the future of the industry.”
Judges included the managing director of Cloggs and the managing director of the British Footwear Association.
They said they were looking for “creativity, but an understanding of manufacturing, pricing and the target customer”.