The transformation of Jessica Ennis

I ADORE Victoria Beckham and Alexander McQueen..."

"I'd love to start my own fashion label..."

"I've been to two award ceremonies in the last two nights..."

You would be forgiven for thinking these were the words of a Hollywood starlet or seasoned pop star. But this is Jessica Ennis - the poster girl for the 2012 Olympics and contender for BBC Sports Personality of the Year, who, in the mind of the nation, wears lycra as a second skin.

The last time I saw her, I was transfixed. So were the 80,000 other fans packed inside the Olympic Stadium as she took to the track for the 800m. Catching up with her last month was a completely different affair. "Meet Jess," said her publicist, twice, noticing I hadn't realised she had arrived.

With her famous six-pack covered, she somehow blends into the background. You wouldn't believe she's the same woman who dominated the heptathlon - that most punishing of Olympic events - less than three months ago. In the flesh she is slight - almost willowy - with a petite 5ft 5 frame ("I was always pretty skinny", she says, "doing athletics has given me some shape").

It wouldn't be harsh to say that she was no style icon three years ago, or even six months ago for that matter, but that's quickly changed. Almost overnight she has become a focal point for the post-Olympics revival of Cool Britannia, as likely to be spotted in Stella McCartney as the new Adidas collection (which she is modelling the day I catch up with her). The change must be startling: one moment she's a promising heptathlete, relatively unknown outside a group of loyal fans committed to the sport, the next, she's an unexpected fashion darling.

So how is she enjoying the transition from tracksuits - and looking very good in them, mind you - to being dressed by some of the most sought after labels in the world? "It's a brilliant position to be in," she says. "It's nice to have the option to pick and choose - it's less stressful when you're deciding what to wear."

Her reinvention as a poster-girl has also given her design ambitions of her own and she confides that a collection is definitely on the horizon. "I would love to go down that road," she says, "whether it's collaborating with [a big sportswear brand] or doing the more fashiony side of things."

One can safely assume, then, that the responsibility of designing her wedding dress (for her upcoming marriage to childhood sweetheart Andy Hill) will be bestowed upon one of the big British names. But don't expect to hear about it in advance: she's fiercely private (in contrast to fellow Olympians like Mo Farah or Victoria Pendleton, who have very publicly discussed the intricacies of their private lives). During the Olympics, until she arrived on the track for the first leg of the competition, she was nowhere to be seen. While the rest of TeamGB were continually snapped leaving the Olympic park, Ennis would often take the back door, hoody up. Even now, aside from the odd mention of "my fiancée," she keeps everything firmly work related. Whenever she thinks she might be giving too much away, she quickly returns to talk about training or the Games.

It wasn't always so. Born in Sheffield to a social worker mother and self-employed decorator father, Ennis came from humble beginnings. It's only since fronting the Adidas campaign in the run-up to the Olympics that she was really propelled into the public consciousness. Her anonymity has been replaced with a furore of media attention into every detail of her life, from how much she's being paid for her latest endorsements, to the smallest details of her upcoming nuptials. I ask her how she's coping with all of the attention and she responds with her default smile, developed, no doubt, in response to the number of times she's been asked about it since the big win. "It's really weird. It was such a big build up to the Olympics and the pressure kind of piled on me but I literally wouldn't have changed anything. The whole build up was brilliant but when you actually achieve it, your goal, your dream, it's a strange feeling."

The attention, of course, has its advantages. "It's really busy now. Busier than I'd ever imagined - I'm having to say no to quite a lot of companies who want to work with me. It's a brilliant position to be in."

In the run up to the Games she is said to have earned £1m through endorsement deals with Adidas and Olay alone. She has since signed lucrative contracts with Aviva, Jaguar, Powerade and British Airways. It's not hard to understand why the deals are raining in and designers are falling over themselves to dress her. Ennis is the ultimate girl nextdoor. She has a quiet, natural beauty that lingers with you rather than knocking you off your feet. Her day-to-day style is simple - "I'm a skinny jeans girl" - and even dressed to the nines on the red carpet, she looks like the kind of girl you would take home to your mother. That's no bad thing: it's this lack of pretension in the way she dresses and carries herself that has brands transfixed.

But don't be fooled. Behind the sweet smile is a woman who knows where she's going. When she first came onto the scene in 2005, winning gold in the European Athletics Junior Championships, many doubted she had what it takes to be a top class heptathlete. In 2.08.65 seconds (the time it took her to complete the 800m, claiming Britain's first track and field gold of the Games), any trace of doubt evaporated.

As the face of TeamGB's Olympics effort for the past three years, she had both her own and the nation's hopes and dreams in her hands - not an easy burden for a seasoned pro, let alone a 26-year-old. "It's been a relief being able to relax and not worry that if I don't do this or I don't train now, I'll let myself down, let the whole country down."

With the amount of work coming her way, plus the prospects of further gold on the horizon, don't expect Jessica Ennis, national treasure, unlikely fashion queen, to take her foot off the pedal for long.

This article featured in our <a href="/bespoke/december">December issue of Bespoke</a>.