An Interview with Anya Hindmarch: The Accessories Designer on the Importance of Having Fun with Fashion

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Photo: Courtesy of Saks Fifth Avenu

Perhaps Cyndi Lauper said it best back in 1983: girls just wanna have fun! For many in the industry, ‘fun’ and ‘fashion’ are two words that are not often used side by side. Thankfully, there are those who refuse to conform and live by the rules, using fashion not just as a creative outlet, but also for pure enjoyment. British accessories queen Anya Hindmarch is one such designer who has remained playful with her craft. Her Spring 2015 collection of bags took patrons back to school with cartoon stickers and youthful phrases, No.2 pencil clutches, monster key chains, and Mickey Mouse-embossed bags.

With Hindmarch’s star on the rise and her bags becoming staples of the street style set, Savoir Flair tapped the designer for her thoughts on the fun side of fashion. Read on to discover how Hindmarch turns the ordinary into the extraordinary, her love for Kellogg’s, her breakfast order, and her favorite spot in London.

You launched your namesake company at the age of 19. What advice would you give to young, emerging designers today looking to start their own companies?
I think I would replace the word “designer” with “entrepreneur”, as there are so many elements to consider when launching a brand, and design is one part of that. Surround yourself with brilliant people and find a great mentor; mine was and still is my father. Persist, and don’t forget to enjoy the journey. It’s fantastically hard work, but worth every second.

Stickers, phrases, doodles, oversized pencils, and bright colors were some of the highlights of the spring/summer collection. What was the initial idea for SS15?
SS15 was inspired by the idea of taking stickers that were my schoolgirl version of personalization, but making them beautiful and handcrafted in leather. My idea was that you can “sticker up” your handbag, phone, or notebook, and make it into your own personal artwork, or you can buy bags that already have sticker designs worked into the leather. I love the combination of a grown-up snakeskin handbag smothered in leather stickers.

Your collections are known to be humorous and playful – we are big fans of the cereal-box and crisp-packet clutches. How important is it for women to have fun with fashion?
I truly think that fashion should make you smile; it can absolutely transform your mood. You can dress conservatively and still have fun wearing a playful piece (as I do!), but it also works perfectly well the other way around. The ‘Crisp Packet’ clutch and the ‘Tony the Tiger Featherweight Ebury’ tote were inspired by everyday familiar items, which we gave a luxurious makeover using beautiful materials and craftsmanship.

How did your collaboration with Kellogg’s come about?
The ‘Counter Culture’ collection was inspired by a longstanding passion for making the everyday extraordinary, using the best techniques possible to create luxurious versions of our favorite household brands. Our Fall 2014 London Fashion Week show featured bags embossed with vintage Kellogg’s graphics.

What’s your breakfast order? Cereal?
I’d have builder’s tea and bacon for breakfast everyday if I could! The green, wooden taxi shelters dotted around London serve the best breakfast, but you don’t notice them until someone tells you. Very British and wonderful.

What are the key things women should keep in mind when shopping for a new handbag?
I think bags are at their most luxurious when, aside from the finest craftsmanship, they work for the wearer! I am obsessed with an organized handbag. Within every bag are various compartments – with one devoted to your phone in the hope of reducing rummaging around.

What’s always in your bag?
My life! But although big, it is tidy. My children think I have OCD. I love a label – which perhaps stems back to school, when our names were stitched onto our gym kits. I have a collection of labelled items, which creates a place for everything and makes everything easier to locate than at the bottom of a tote. In my bag, you’ll find everything from cables and chargers to “girly stuff”, like lip balm, some secret concealer, and some emergency Nurofen. I use all these things religiously.

Flats or heels?

Is there one person – past or present – that you would most want to see carrying your bags?
Truly, I could not pinpoint one person. We are very lucky to have a wonderful variety of celebrities wearing our collections. It’s always very flattering and interesting to see the different ways they are worn. But, if I’m very honest, I am more excited by the craftsmen who help make the bags – they are my celebrities.

If you weren’t a handbag designer, what would you be?
I dreamed of becoming an opera singer if you can believe it – I still do!

What song can you listen to over and over?
‘I was Glad’ by Hubert Parry is a very special piece to me, as it was one that I sang often at school and was also sung at our wedding, although very badly by a tiny French choir who didn’t get it at all!

What is your favorite place in London?
My kitchen table, surrounded by family and friends.

Anya Hindmarch is available at Saks Fifth Avenue Dubai, BurJuman. Click through the gallery to discover the latest collection.

Photos: Courtesy of Saks Fifth Avenue

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