Brisbane designer Tracey Watkins, founder of White Label Noba range.
Brisbane designer Tracey Watkins, founder of White Label Noba range.

Dress to impress: Designer wows royal with frock

EVERY time a photo of a royal wearing a certain outfit appears in a magazine or newspaper, the outfit or something similar to it, sells out immediately all over the world.

One woman who is not surprised by this is Brisbane designer Tracey Watkins, founder of White Label Noba range, a line of clothing designed for the young through to the old, and with comfort and fit in mind for all shapes.

Since a photograph of the Queen's grand-daughter, Zara Phillips, appeared in the newspaper last month, with Zara wearing a navy linen White Label Noba above-the-knee dress, the impact has gone global.

The good fortune came to Tracey through a fashionista who approached her some months ago, saying a 'celebrity is coming' to Queensland, and will be looking at various Australian fashion brands to wear during her visit.

Tracey had no idea who the 'celebrity' was but didn't hesitate to be part of a group of fashion houses to participate.

"I offered suggestions and then a text message came to me, saying 'congratulations, Zara Phillips had many options but she has chosen to wear yours to a function' (during her Australian visit.)

That function was the Magic Millions polo event in January where a pregnant Zara Phillips looked cool and casual in the White Label Noba dress matched with straw hat, sandals, sunglasses and navy clutch purse. She was constantly photographed throughout the day.

"I was absolutely thrilled when I saw the photo in the paper," Tracey said. "The dress is a silk blend with beautiful cotton lace. It is a White Label Noba lifestyle brand you can dress up or down. After the event Zara asked if she could buy it, that was the greatest compliment of all. Of course, we said we would love to gift it to her."

Since the photo and story went around the globe, Tracey has been reeling with the sweeping effect of it.

"I am amazed the reach the story has had," she said "I looked on Instagram and saw it had gone all over the world. We have sold out of it (the dress) and had calls from the UK from a newspaper."

Tracey founded White Label Noba at the age of 47, after her mother fell ill and Tracey became determined not to wait to strive for her own goals.

"I was not going to wait for anything," she said "I worked for Maggie Tabberer for a while and I thought I'd start my own plus-size label but then people wanted it in all sizes. I don't march to the beat of any drum. I am 55 and menopausal so I do what I want. My heart was bursting with pride when I saw the photo of Zara (in my dress.) I was very close to my mother She would be proud."


Often the spark of passion is lit many years before it burns brightly and this is true for Tracey Watkins, founder, owner and designer of White Label Noba. A label that has become one of Australia's most loved and sought-after fashion brands. Unlike others, hers has not been a journey dictated by fabrics, patterns, sequins, seasons, colours, cuts, toiles and trends. This is a story of inspiration by an Australian legend and many years later, fulfilling a dream to create beautifully crafted and curated fashion pieces that celebrate women of all sizes. The sparkle and flow of luxe fabric is the realisation of this dream.

White Label Noba launched in 2011. While it feels like more than just six short, frenetic years, White Label Noba defies time. Rather than conform to the transience of fashion, Tracey designs for style, for joy and for love; hence her tagline Love White Label Noba.

Ever-creative, with a sharp eye for colour, cut and contrast, Tracey studied Interior Design and ran her own business. It was during her studies that she worked and modelled for Maggie Tabberer, an iconic Australian fashion leader and role model for millions.

It was Maggie T who provided Tracey the inspiration she sought to feed the existing hunger to design and create beautiful clothes and shoes for all women, not just the perfect 10s of the world. She therefore followed her heart and after four years, eight seasons and three Limited Edition MBFF ranges later, White Label Noba has pride of place in women's wardrobes across the country.

From the label's flagship boutique in Brisbane's Hawthorne, Tracey has created more than clothes. Through her own personable and nurturing approach, she has fostered a family of While Label Noba devotee's - women who wait for the next season, for the new design look.

"White Label Noba is a very special label. It's one that celebrates all woman, of any age and size. I found it very difficult and incredibly frustrating myself to find clothes that were both stylish and flattering - given I sit in the curvy category. When my original vision to dress plus-size women in beautiful clothing resonated with women of all shapes and sizes, it became very clear to me that in fact, size really doesn't matter - how you feel when you wear a piece of beautiful clothing does. And that's the secret behind White Label Noba."

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