Noughty but nice


In a streak of glitzy-stripe and a flash of silver knit, it looks like London designer, Tracey Boyd is set to take the fashion world by storm. Already known in fashion circles for her TopShop diffusion range, earlier this year she beat both Mathew Williamson and Stella McCartney for the New Generation award at the British fashion awards. Now we can have a little bit of Boyd ourselves as her collection is available at Brown Thomas.

"I was so thrilled to be even nominated for that award," she says, "And it was so great to win, I couldn't believe it. As a new-name designer it really has opened doors for me. I'm now taken a lot more seriously."

Brightly coloured, bat-winged or just a bit flash, Boyd's designs are the perfect mix of eighties glitz and noughties sophistication. All lurex, leather and sparkly spandex, this season's collection is named Elysee Matignon 79/80 - and was inspired by the Parisian disco scene of the era.

"It was when I was in art school in Paris that I experienced the whole glamorous night club scene of the 1980s," she says. "I was very young, but I had to grow up fast and quickly just to get on. It was the `Grace Jones age' - very glam and over-the-top, and I soaked it in. When I was designing for this collection I drew a lot from memories of this time."

Boyd rose through the ranks of fashiondom in a round-about way. After finishing art college she became an illustrator for children's books before landing a fashion assignment at Harpers and Queen magazine.

Following that she worked as a shop assistant and then buyer at Tokio, the bijou London boutique. For five seasons she designed an exclusive label for Tokio until branching out on her own in 1996. The label she called, quite simply, Boyd.

"Illustration was something that I always loved. It was my sole interest for a while, but eventually it became too insular for me. I moved into fashion but am still drawing all the time - putting the ideas into designs. I love the 3-D shape and do all the line drawings myself."

Due to her generous sizes and flattering cuts, Boyd's designs have made a welcome change for women without catwalk figures. She has been described as a designer who designs for average women.

"I started designing for myself primarily, which means there are certain parts of the body that I like to accentuate and others that I hide. Design is all about getting the balance right but as a rule women want to cover their hips and emphasise their bust line."

Although she was first noticed for her pretty cardigans and girlie dresses, Boyd feels it is now time to move on. She says she likes to think of her clothes as "powerful and feminine" but each season, she says, her look is changing and developing.

"Things are getting tailored now and I don't want to pigeon-hole myself as someone turning out frumpy skirts and cardies. My line is evolving all the time, which is the most interesting thing about it for me."

With her own somewhat unusual background (her mother married five times and had many suitors, including a prince), and association with celebrities such as Zoe Ball, Tracey Boyd has often been described as part of the cool "Notting Hill gang"; a portrayal she finds ridiculous.

"The whole Notting Hill cool-thing is a bit of a media invention, anyway, but the best thing about it is that I live and work in Fulham and so have nothing to do at all with any Notting Hill set. I just think that people like to get an angle on you and put you in a certain bracket."

Design-wise her biggest influences have been the sharp, geometric looks of 1960s London designers such as Biba and Ossie Clark as well as vintage Yves St Laurent. Her own sense of design she describes as "magpie-like".

"I pick things up all over the place when I'm travelling and wear a lot of vintage handbags, belts and shawls. One of my favourite items in my wardrobe is a beautiful 1970s' long caramel trench coat, which I wear to death."

Markets are her preferred places to shop and she goes anywhere, from London's Portobello market to the flea markets outside Paris. She will even scour jumble sales and antique markets for inspirational items or fun things to add to her wardrobe.

"Florence is my favourite," she enthuses. "I go once a year and stock up on shoes. I have really small feet and so do Italian women so I can get all the size 2s and 3s I need. Actually I love shoes so much, I would really like to get into designing them."

In the meantime it has been a hectic four years and Boyd is ready to take stock of where she's going before growing much bigger; "I now need to be as careful as possible as there is a real danger in building too quickly. The last two years have been very intensive work-wise so I now want to take things a bit easier. But if that will ever happen, I don't know."