Grazia became the first consumer newsstand publication since Nova in the 1970s to win a prize at the D&AD design awards with a yellow pencil.
Other magazine winners were John Brown Citrus's M-real and creative arts bi-monthly, Marmalade. The Guardian won a yellow pencil in the newspaper category and the top prize, a black pencil, for best overall design.
The Grazia win provides more good news for Emap — which last week announced pre-tax profits up 9 per cent to £223 million, on turnover of £1.154 billion, attributed in part to the women's weekly's successful launch in 2005.
The award was the first for a consumer mag since IPC's Nova won silver in 1973 and '75, and is noteworthy as the first for a weekly magazine, although newspaper supplements such as The Sunday Times Magazine have won previously.
One of the judges, Simon Esterson of Esterson Associates graphic designers, said of Grazia: "It's rare for a mass-market title to have such strong, contemporary art direction.
"News pages are bold and energetic, while fashion features are elegant. Yet it still feels like one magazine."
Art director Suzanne Sykes, who previously launched Marie Claire with Glenda Bailey, and the Daily Mirror's M supplement, said of the win: "It was surprising because magazines aren't usually considered in that arena.
"Maybe the big thing about Grazia is that the design appeals to both men and women.
"It's like when you buy a pair of trainers, as a woman, you don't necessarily want a pink pair, and it's that thing of taking it on a level where you love it for the sake of loving it, rather than feeling it has to fit into any slot."
Sykes said she was more influenced by foreign magazines in her art direction because in Britain, although the titles were good, there was "that element of everything beginning to look the same".
She added: "I like Vogue, it's a really beautiful magazine, but you wouldn't look at it to necessarily be influenced by it in terms of design."
Judges said Marmalade "breaks all the rules of design and production… refuses to be just another slick style title".
The launch team of Boys Toys magazine — editor Kirsty Robinson and fashion photographer Sacha Spencer Trace — founded the title in 2003 with a brief to challenge the traditional methods of design.
Spencer Trace said: "The award proves you can do things differently and you don't have to follow the well-trodden route and that there's room for innovation. There was a practical reason for doing what we do.
"You have to stand out in a market where all the rest look the bloody same.
I remember when I was 13 and rushed out to buy The Face — but what magazine creates that excitement now?"
Marmalade's publishing company has changed its name from Hotbed to Marmaladeworld and has two quarterly launches in the pipeline, a "very, very sexy" publication in October this year, and another forecast for 2007.
John Brown Citrus's M-real, a customer title for the European paper company which produces stock for consumer packaging, communications and advertising, was inspired by research on visual perception at the University of Helsinki.
The objective was to draw readers — editors, publishers and art directors — into the decision-making process about the paper their magazines are printed on.
At the D&ADs, 54 yellow pencils and two black pencils were awarded from more than 24,500 submitted pieces of work.