"I never thought I'd end up being an accessories designer," says Audrey Ang, the 31-year-old St Martin's graduate who has become one of London's hottest names in handbags. She designed her first bag for herself while she was working for Yohji Yamamoto as a design researcher in London. "I just needed a bag and knew what I wanted," she says. Made out of Chinese silk and slung comfortably over the shoulder, the bag is both practical - you don't have to take it off when you want to find your bus fare - and decorative. As with most successful design ideas, the secret lies in its simplicity. Friends put in their orders straightaway and two years on, Audrey Ang's collection of eight different bags is being sold in countries from Japan to America. Whether she likes it or not, she has become an accessories designer in demand.

"Most people I know like to dress in black," she says. "I wanted the bags to be fun, and bright - a way of changing your mood." They are also perfectly in tune with the current trend for all things oriental. Prada, the label that has refined oriental style down to the pinnacle of good taste, sells bamboo-print silk sling pouch bags for pounds 255 each. Audrey's start at pounds 40 for a drawstring make-up bag and go up to pounds 85 for the sling style. (And, incidentally, hers came first.)

Thanks to Prada and fashion's new obsession with the East, Audrey Ang's phone has not stopped ringing with orders for her new collection. She has even added a few items of clothing - simple T-shirts and skirts made from sumptuous Chinese brocade - although they are selling out faster than she can make them. At Shop in Soho's Brewer Street, the first delivery from her spring collection sold out in two weeks. "I'd rather keep the styles of the clothes quite basic, so I can concentrate on making the bags perfect," she says. But it's her choice of fabrics that really makes her designs a hit. Some of them are old silks from the Seventies, and others are commissioned specially from China. She uses silk rather than rayon and everything is made in a studio near her home in Notting Hill Gate.

Ang was born and bred in London, but her family is from Malaysia. "I don't really know anything about my Chinese roots," she says. "That's why I'm so attracted to chinoiserie. It's odd. Now everyone knows me as Chinese Audrey who makes Chinese things, but I can't even speak Chinese and have never been to China." Nevertheless, Audrey's precious pieces of the Far East are in great demand and you don't have to travel to the ends of the earth to buy them. You can order yours by phone.

Mail order and stockist enquiries: 0171-727 1515. Shop, 4 Brewer Street, London W1. Angela Hale, Royal Arcade, Old Bond Street, London W1. The Cross, 141 Portland Road, London W11. Moose, 87 Regent's Park Road, London NW1. Blue, 35 Lapwing Lane, Manchester.

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