What A Woman!


Anya Hindmarch is a bona-fide superwoman. Known for her beautiful handbags, she has taken her business from teenage whim to mega brand in 26 years. Her ‘I Am Not A Plastic Bag’ reusable shopper caused a frenzy when it was launched in 2007, with women queuing from 2am to get one. Add to that a directorship at the British Fashion Council, a role as trustee of the Design Museum, a 2009 MBE for her services to the fashion industry and an appointment as UK trade ambassador in 2010. Oh, and she has five children ranging in age from 11 to 24.

Hindmarch, 45, runs her tight ship from a converted stable block in Battersea, south London, alongside her husband – the company’s finance director – James Seymour. It’s a chic, charming affair; framed photographs and invitations line the stairwell leading up to her loft office that overlooks the cobbled courtyard. It’s a serious upgrade from the friend’s kitchen table she started working at in 1987 at 18, packing and writing orders after persuading Harper’s & Queen (now Harper’s Bazaar UK) to feature a vintage bag she had sourced on a trip to Italy. The orders rolled in and she’s never looked back.

 

Your favourite place in London?
‘Probably my bed. I’ve got a very weird big cobalt one that
looks like a Teletubbies bed. I’m very happy there.’

Are you a bad loser?
‘No, I think I’m a really good loser. Well, externally anyway.’

Do you keep a diary?
‘Yes, I write a diary every day.’

Champagne or cup of tea?
‘Cup of tea.’

What's the thing you’ve been meaning to do most
but keep running out of time?
‘Organise my photograph albums.’

What’s the first thing you think of when
you wake up in the morning?
‘Whether I’ve got to go to the gym or not. I walk about seven
kilometres four times a week with a girlfriend come rain or shine,
and I do Pilates once a week.’

What are you reading at the moment?
‘Nothing. My BlackBerry!’

When and where are you happiest?
‘At my kitchen table with my family and my friends.’

What superpower would you like to have?
‘I’d like to be able to fly.’

What is your greatest regret?
[Hesitates] ‘I don’t have any regrets.’

To have great personal style means...
‘To be able to smile with your eyes.’

‘Things have to work, and I’m very particular about that in my designs. I still get excited about a new handbag and putting all my things in the pockets – it’s completely thrilling to me. They have a very system-based design. Sometimes it’s enough for something to just be beautiful, but I like things to function.

‘I’m busy, and so when it comes to shopping I like to have things nailed. I think every woman has 10 or 12 things on the go that she rotates, and I’m too busy to spend hours playing with clothes, so I like to get it done. I like to feel good and I don’t like to be worrying about my outfits.

‘I go through phases. I’m into pencil skirts at the moment. I’d wear one with a denim shirt or with a vest and a jacket. I want to feel that combination of professional and “on it”, but you want to dress your age, too. I try to buy British where I can and not just because of my work with the British Fashion Council. I like wearing things made by friends, like Jonathan Saunders or Preen. I wear a lot of Stella McCartney, Erdem, Christopher Kane and Mary Katrantzou, too.

‘When I launched my collection [in 1987] it was a really exciting time. You felt you could be brave and do something on your own, but I also think London is an incredibly creative city. I think of all places to be in design, it’s about the best place. You have so much at your fingertips. There is inspiration in the architecture, the history, the art – it’s very international.

‘There are no rules in fashion. It used to be that if miniskirts were in, then that’s what you’d wear. But now you are able to be yourself. I work a year ahead, so, to be honest, as the trends come out I feel rather bored of them already. Subconsciously, you assimilate things – we are all bombarded by images, but I’m more inspired by how things are made than by trends.’

 

Your guide to the key Anya Hindmarch styles
THE BATHURST
Anya says: ‘The Bathurst is a favourite of
mine. It’s like a precious bag inherited from
your grandmother but modernised with the
contrast snakeskin strap and the beautiful
enamel clasp. It’s made in Italy from French
goat skin and is the ultimate forever bag.’

Bathurst bow leather shoulder bag
€1,500

THE SOFT EBURY
A long-standing Anya Hindmarch classic that's
been carried by everyone from Margaret
Thatcher to Madonna, the Ebury has been
updated in this less structured version.

Ebury tote
€1,194

THE ALBION
Anya says: ‘The Albion is beautifully
understated. It’s made by one of Italy’s leading
artisans using a modern technique called
“thermo saldatura” to create a buttered (totally
unstitched) edge, which means it’s incredibly
lightweight, even with its many pockets.’

Albion leather tote
€1,554

THE EYE TWISTER
An instantly recognisable Anya Hindmarch
design, this family’s vibrant optical print is
inspired by board games, and comes replete
with an ornate oversized tassel.

Eye twister Courtney clutch
€474

THE DUKE BACKGAMMON
Moiré silk, shagreen and intricate guilloché (a
traditional enamelling technique) are crafted
into elegant Art Deco-inspired clutches. Lined
in soft suede, these evening bags with inlaid
panels close with a push-lock fastening.

Duke Backgammon clutch
€1,194

THE BELVEDERE
Strips of high-shine leather are stitched onto a
suede base to create a striking linear effect.
The neat zip-top clutch style comes full of
useful compartments.

Belvedere clutch bag
€594

I hope you enjoyed this interview.  Sissy x

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