News & Runway

Designer Spotlight: Tracy James


Heading to the beach is daunting enough for most of us, but add to that paler than pale skin, and an inability to tan, and that apprehension goes up exponentially. With that in mind I couldn’t have been happier when I was introduced to Tracy James Resort.

A collaboration between stylist Tracy James and designer Joseph La Grand, the line offers swimwear that not only helps cover up those of us who aren’t into sunning in a bikini, but it easily transitions from the beach to brunch, sunbathing to shopping, or day to night.

The flirty line made its debut with its Resort 2011 collection, called Passport, hitting Los Angeles boutiques Satine and Diavolina in August, and launching nationally in Fall 2010.

Having traveled extensively and noticing the limitations of most swimwear, James and La Grand sought to create a line that was innovative but wearable. The duo’s swimsuits have been designed with special lightweight fabrics that dry quickly in the sun, and the styles favor a woman who may want to show a little less skin, yet still remain sexy. 

In selecting their color palette, James and La Grand opted for neutrals to keep the pieces as versatile as possible – "you can go from poolside to dinner and drinks with the simple addition of a pair of skinny jeans or a pencil skirt," notes James.

James and La Grand have been friends for a decade, so the transition to working on this passion project felt natural for them. "Tracy is the muse for the feeling of the collection, and I do the technical design and draping," explains James. "We conceptualize the creative direction together based on Tracy’s trend forecasting."  

At 14 James began her career in fashion as a model, but it was her love of design that led her to assist celebrity stylist and mentor Eric Archibald. She then ventured on her own to work with clients including Kirstie Alley, Audra McDonald, Jennifer Hudson, Sanaa Lathan, Kanye West, Aracely Arambula, Zoe Saldana, and Faith Evans.

La Grand had his beginnings as a salesperson at the legendary Aaardvark’s Odd Ark vintage clothing store in Los Angeles, where he was inspired to recreate or reconstruct the pieces that passed through.

His first formal design job was making reconstructed clothing for *NSYNC when the boy band toured with stylist Steven Gerstein.

Since then, he’s counted among his clients Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Aaliyah, Lil’ Lim, Kylie Minogue, Zoe Saldana, Peaches, The Foo Fighters, Kelis, Ginnifer Goodwin, Kerry Russell, Melissa Etheridge, Joe, Mary J, Blige, and Eve.


Tracy James is still a baby in the fashion world, but given its unique mix of style and functionality – and the two powerhouses behind the brand – we predict great things to come.