| S T Y L E |
Handbags & Accessories | London
AWARD-WINNING British luxury handbag and accessories designer Anya Hindmarch reveals WHAT INSPIRES her highly coveted HANDBAG & ACCESSORIES creations.
Over the last 25 years, critically-acclaimed designer Anya Hindmarch has established herself as one of Britain’s leading luxury handbag and accessories designers. Her signature mainline and bespoke collections exude her sense of creativity and humour, and are stocked in her own exquisite international boutiques and in the world’s leading department stores. She has earned a strong following with celebrities such as Alexa Chung, Cara Delevingne and Kate Moss, and her London Fashion Week shows are legendary. She designs the gift bags for the Vanity Fair Oscars party and BAFTA’s, and was awarded an MBE in 2009 for services to the fashion industry; she is also a non-executive director of the British Fashion Council, a UK Trade Ambassador and trustee of the Royal Academy of Arts and The Design Museum. We catch up with the award-winning designer to find out more about what inspires her seasonal collections and how her brand has evolved over the years.
What inspired you to launch the Anya Hindmarch brand and when was it originally conceived?
AH: A drawstring bag was the very first piece I made when I was 18 years old. During a trip to Italy, I noticed that very elegant women were carrying a style similar to this and I thought that women at home would love it. I brought some home and a dear friend was an editor at Harpers & Queen (as it was known at the time) and agreed to run a reader offer with these bags. They sold out! And so the Anya Hindmarch brand was born.
What is the philosophy of the brand? What do you feel differentiates it and makes it so special/ unique?
AH: Craftsmanship, personalisation and humour are three of the things we are the most known for and which sit at the heart of everything we do. We live on laugher (and cake!) at AH HQ. We take what we do very seriously but have such fun doing it. I think that comes through in the product. We are the only accessories brand to hold a runway show for handbags, it’s a little nuts but allows us to bring the collection to life, transporting the industry and our customers into our heads and what we’ve been thinking about for the past 3 months. We have had everything from models floating weightlessly above the audience to, most recently, a 100 piece Choir singing Pilgrims Chorus by Richard Wagner with 20 models walking to a backdrop giant LED film screen of a journey around a motorway in London.
What are some of the major inspirations behind your collections? What is your creative process when developing new products?
AH: I find inspiration in anything and everything. People inspire me as well as architecture, travel and chocolate! Our Crisp packet clutch was a piece was quite literally inspired by a packet of crisps and my love of giving everyday items a luxury treatment by incredible craftsmen. We 3D scanned the perfect crisp packet. Our 3D scanners in Sheffield were the first company in the UK to start this type of process and work mainly with the automotive industry. They use up to 100 cameras mounted on tripods to take 360 degree photos of any given object all at the same time. It was quite exciting to see it in action. Then we took the scanned models, cast them then worked with the most amazing second generation minaudière maker in Florence. They are the masters of this craft. It is very complicated as it is completely asymmetrical and took many goes to get right. It was a real labour of love. But we love it. It is a perfect little clutch and actually a little piece of art. It is really modern, and a sort of "forever classic" I think. It also has a chain so you can wear it over your shoulder too.
How would you describe your product range? What are some of the brand’s most emblematic creations?
AH: I am obsessed by personalisation. SS15 was inspired by the idea of taking stickers that were my schoolgirl version of ‘personalisation’ but making them beautifully and handcrafted in leather. So we have created individual adhesive, exquisitely crafted leather stickers across the alphabet and a variety of playful symbols to accompany the collection. My idea was that you can 'sticker up’ your handbag, phone or notebook and then make it into your own personal artwork, or 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. Launched for SS15 but very much a part of AW15. We also launched knitwear and fur jackets and scarves for AW15, which together with handbags, stickers and small leather goods seemed like a natural extension of our accessories offering.
What are some of your proudest achievements to date as a brand/ company?
AH: We were awarded the British Fashion Award for "Best British Accessories Designer of the Year", which was a very proud moment. It was a real honour and a huge moment for us as a team. We have worked so hard, so it was very special to receive that kind of acknowledgment from my peers in the industry.
Where can we find Anya Hindmarch collections around the world?
AH: We have over 50 stores globally from London to New York, LA and Tokyo. We also have the privilege to work with some of the world’s most wonderful stores including Net-a-Porter, Selfridges, Bergdorf Goodman, Barneys New York, and Isetan.
As your company is based in London, how does the city influence your creativity? What are some of your favourite local places to eat/ drink/ hang out in London?
AH: London as a city inspires me every day, due to the irony of the British, the history, the architecture, and the fact that it’s home. For something a little different, I go to Rock & Sole Plaice (47 Endell Street, London WC2H 9AJ), London’s oldest surviving fish and chip shop. It was established in 1871 and is still bustling. As long as you wrap up warmly, you can eat outside under coloured lights strung from the trees. To relax, I would advise anyone to become a friend of the Chelsea Physic Garden (66 Royal Hospital Road, London SW3 4HS) to gain access all year round to escape the city in this blissful ‘secret’ garden. I love it there. If visiting London, pop in for a stroll and some traditional English afternoon tea at their teahouse in the garden. The Design Museum (28 Shad Thames, London SE1 2YD) is a gem of a museum housing modern and contemporary industrial design, architecture, graphics and fashion all under one roof. Abe Books in London is wonderful for rare and vintage books and I could spend hours here. I always leave feeling inspired and creative, with something special tucked away in my bag. I also love the V&A Museum shop (Cromwell Road, London SW7 2RL) for children's gifts and I also adore the old men’s shops in St. James.
What would you like to be remembered for?
AH: For making beautifully made products that become loyal friends. But mostly for being a good mother, daughter and friend.
What is next on the horizon for the Anya Hindmarch brand?
AH: We have just finalised our Resort 2016 collection and are currently working towards our next London Fashion Week show in September 2015. Hope you can join us!
Visit the Anya Hindmarch Online Store: anyahindmarch.com
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