God only knows why 007 is so popular, says the woman with regular access to Pierce Brosnan's body. Bond's mix of glib charm and suave violence never really had great appeal for Lindy Hemming in pre-Brosnan eras, but since she was asked to bring some of his magic back by way of his wardrobe, she's been hooked, just like everyone else, although she suspects it is on different grounds.

Actually, she does know why Bond is still huge; and it's obvious, she says, that it's for all the wrong reasons. ''It seems crazy we still go in for the brand, but it's logical. More of us buy luxury cars, go to exotic places, and we read more magazines about what to buy, what to wear, where to go. That is the premise of Bond. He now slots so much better into our luxury-goods-obsessed lifestyle, a lifestyle we sadly all now aspire to.''

Hemming - who won an Oscar for the costumes in Mike Leigh's Topsy Turvy - wishes we were ''more cultured'' than to be so turned on by glamour, but concedes that Bond films are bound to reflect that we live in a world driven by advertising, marketing, and high fashion. The success of Die Another Day, the diamond-encrusted Bond flick number 20, is a given. ''And lucky me,'' says Hemming. ''Costume is becoming more important than ever. Viewers are more sophisticated and clothes have to provide clues about the character.''

Her work on the latest film has seen her joining what she calls the ''Bond family'' for the fourth time. ''The Bond films have been some of my favourite to work on, because it can't be completely unbelievable. The characters can't be unreal on all levels, but there is always that place with each one of them where you can be very tongue in cheek.''

As well as dressing Brosnan in Brioni suits and Ballantyne cashmere, Die Another Day allowed Hemming get her teeth into dreaming up hyper-glamour for Halle Berry, and it was she who put Berry in a bikini as a homage to Ursula Andress, the very first Bond girl. ''Halle and I both agreed that she didn't suit a white bikini like the one Andress wore, however, so I went to La Perla and asked them to make one specially for her.'' As a result of that little deal, La Perla are also making a bikini for Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider 2, on which Hemming is currently working at Pinewood Studies.

Three of Halle Berry's eight ''looks'' in Die Another Day involved Versace. ''The cyclamen pink diamond-encrusted dress, for example, was a collaboration between Donatella and me,'' explains Hemming. ''I'd seen a version of it at Versace, and asked Donatella to design a version that would include our colourways of purply pink.'' Hemming designed the bodice of Madonna's fencing costume, which was made by Whitaker Malem.

Her ability to turn a clean-cut Englishman into an unmistakable hero by way of Brioni suits and camouflage combats can be added to a long list of unsung achievements. Hemming, 54, also worked on both Harry Potter films, Four Weddings and a Funeral (''the most frivolous thing I've ever done''), and Tomb Raider, which she says is not as easy as just finding Lara Croft a little green top and a tiny pair of khaki shorts. ''It was a hard one. You've got an actor trying to play the role of someone who already exists in everyone's mind. You have to make her look fashionable and original, but keep within the preconceptions and avoid upsetting anyone. All this time you have to keep up the excitement for you and the actor.''

Harry Potter was more fun, although if she never sees another Hogwart's sweater she won't cry. She had to make hundreds of the things.

You wouldn't expect Hemming to get too starry-eyed. Her partner is Bob Starrett, an instrumental campaigner in the battle to save the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders in the seventies who lives with her in Islington. They met when he was a painter in Glasgow 25 years ago. After a stint as the UCS work-in's official cartoonist, he became a student at Glasgow School of Art, and now works as a scenic painter in the film industry.

After leaving school, Hemming became a nurse. Even then, her creativity found its outlet and she would involve herself heavily in patient entertainments. A colleague told her she should take her flair seriously and she soon began studying stage management and design at Rada.

Hemming is sorry that the arts scene is much more impenetrable than it was in the seventies. ''It was so much easier then because there was more fringe theatre, more trying-out places, more different roles to try your hand at, and more productions with not so much money hanging on them. Now there is so little funding. Talent, including good writing, is being encouraged less and less.''

By good writing she may just mean Mike Leigh, the director of All or Nothing with whom she worked on Meantime, High Hopes, Life is Sweet, and Naked. After graduating Hemming worked on London's fringe theatre. She progressed to West End productions, which led to commissions from the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Royal National Theatre. In 1983 she worked with Richard Eyre on her first feature film and two years later with Stephen Frear in the highly acclaimed My Beautiful Launderette.

It is perhaps because Hemming is saddened by the unwelcoming structure of the arts scene that most of her assistants are likely to be the type who has been stifled by a nine to five in retail, desperate to do something in textiles or fashion, but who, without an arts degree, hasn't found his or her way in. ''People who haven't the right degrees tend to be more interesting, more open to learn. They have a different energy and approach, a drive and desperation. They don't moan, they just get on with it.''

A burning desire to be involved in a Hollywood blockbuster is understandable. A hunger to sew and sew is less easily explained, particularly where Bond is concerned. Bond is Bond. Crisp suits for the posh nights out when he's teasing information out of ladies, neutral shades for rigorous, helicopter-jumping day work, and a rubber all-in-one for messing around in high-pressure chambers. ''You can put Bond in a Hawaiian shirt if you want,'' she says ''and in fact I have. But it's a subtle 007 Hawaiian shirt. Bond really has moved on over these past four films. He's become more sophisticated and he's hunkier. Pierce was a bit skinny during Goldeneye.''

It was Hemming's observation of characters which urged Barbara Broccoli, producer of Die Another Day, to ask her back again and again. Costume design for Hemming is only one-tenth haberdashery. ''It's about looking at people and trying to understand what they do, why they are wearing what they are, what they are saying by their clothes. Everyone makes judgments using all those subtle signals, whether they be intentional or otherwise.''

This sixth sense can only get sharper, and suggests she may still be dressing Bond by the time Jonny Lee Miller has stepped into Brosnan's Prada shoes.