The Woman Behind Narciss New!

Narciss founder Alise Trautmane may have scooped up the Best Designer 2012 award in Latvia but her presence is growing in London too, thanks to her well-appointed Notting Hill boutique, which sells gorgeous dresses to the well-heeled and fashion aficionados. We meet the designer whose source of inspiration is her elegant 80-year-old Aunt Zize (pictured)...

What are your failsafe styling tips?

Black always looks gorgeous. Little black dresses, chic black jackets, black silk blouses?€¦ Black is the most sophisticated and elegant colour. You just can't go wrong with it.

Any advice on how to make it in fashion?

Personally, I learn by doing and by making mistakes. You really have to love what you do and always stay true to your vision. Hard work is essential in order to make it in this industry.

What's the best piece of fashion advice your mum ever gave you?

My mother grew up in the Soviet Union, where it was hard to get Western press, films, music and fashion. However, there were always ways of buying fashion magazines with the most amazing designs and the latest photo shoots. I remember my mother's bookshelf filled with these magazines, and she used to stay up all night cutting out patterns and designing outfits. She was able to turn boring, dull fabrics into beautiful, chic dresses. I don't remember any specific advice that my mother gave me, but she definitely taught me that miracles can happen when you combine hard work with creativity.

Who is your style icon, and why?

I absolutely love the 50s and 60s, when women celebrated their femininity to the fullest. The styles of Audrey Hepburn, Jacqueline Kennedy, Brigitte Bardot and Catherine Deneuve are still copied today. Their styles were so different and, at the same time, so timeless.

What is the one item in your wardrobe you could not imagine life without?

Tough question! I certainly have my favourite pieces, which I treasure and hand-wash - am I the only one who still does this? To be honest, as much as I love them I could live without these pieces. After all, they are just clothes?€¦ And I can always make duplicates!

What do you think sets London girls apart from the rest of the world, style-wise?

London girls love to experiment! They take risks and pull it off with an air of confidence and urban elegance. It really works!

How would you describe your collection and its style?

My collections stand out for their sophisticated femininity, as midi and maxi dresses dominate each collection. The best way of describing NARCISS is "humble luxury", as the style blends effortlessly with the rest of your wardrobe regardless of the trend du jour.

Visit the Narciss Boutique at 185 Westbourne Grove, Notting Hill LONDON W11 2SB