English face sells US lace

IN THE UK a steamy French image is used to market lingerie. Britain's continental neighbours might therefore be amused to discover that in the US, Britishness spells glamour and sensuality.

Victoria's Secret, one of America's fastest growing lingerie chains, has launched an "English Lace" collection sold throughout its 800 shops. At fashion shows, models sport bowler hats, straight out of The Avengers, as a female voice with a no-nonsense English accent introduces the collection.

The company reported record sales of $2.4bn (pounds 1.5bn) in 1997 and plans to open 74 more stores to increase its 14 per cent share of the US lingerie market.

In addition to lingerie, Victoria's Secret plans to launch a line of cosmetics next month.

It is a division of Intimate Brands, which also owns health and beauty chain, Bath & Body Works.