A vintage bag left behind by its owner on a London got Anya Hindmarch’s creative juices flowing for her latest accessories collection. The British leather goods genius’ inspiration stems from her fascination with “hidden London” and a love of the forgotten history of the capital. “I came across an exhibition of objects that had been left on the London Underground when strolling past Baker Street tube station. This led to a fascination with ‘Lost and Found’ objects and, in particular, a beautiful but battered doctor’s bag which had been left on the tube,” says Hindmarch. Her modern homage, The Bruton, available in white (pictured above), with fresh-linen contrast panels and butter calf piping details, took pride of place in the designer’s fun London Fashion Week presentation, staged in the long-abandoned Strand tube station. Hindmarch for the event recreated an old-fashioned café, serving tea and scones, a photo booth and a shop, Anya’s Kiosk, where her new bag designs intermingled with candy, postcards and copies of the Evening Hindmarch newspaper. “It is an incredible station with beautiful Victorian features and great historical significance (and as such is a Grade II listed building). Disused parts of the station and the running tunnels were used during both world wars to shelter artworks from London’s public galleries and museums from bombing,” said the designer, adding: “I love showing people places that they wouldn’t normally have access to.”
Here, Hindmarch talks to SaksPOV about two of her favorite topics: handbags and the City of London.
SaksPOV: What charmed you so much about the ‘Lost and Found’ exhibition that partly inspired your spring collection?
A.H.: It is always fascinating, especially to me as a handbag designer to see the things that people carry around with them — it gives you a real insight into their personalities. The exhibition included everything from everyday objects that you would expect people to lose and perhaps not miss, such as lipsticks and umbrellas, to more unusual pieces like beautiful estate jewelry and false teeth.
SaksPOV: Have you ever forgotten something on a train?
AH: No, but I left my laptop in a taxi once. To this day, I don’t know how it happened.
SaksPOV: Where is your favorite place to go for tea in London?
A.H.: The Chelsea Physic Garden or the little green cabmen’s shelters dotted around the city to provide refreshments for taxi drivers (and brew the best tea!).
SaksPOV: And for cocktails?
A.H.: The Fumoir at Claridge’s because it is so small and sophisticated and always feels so decadent.
SaksPOV: What is your favorite London hotel?
A.H.: You can’t beat the Art Deco elegance of Claridge’s.
SaksPOV: Can you share any insider tips about London?
A.H.: It is easy to lose yourself for an afternoon in an exhibition at the Royal Academy and you should beg, borrow or steal to try to get a glimpse of the academy’s life-drawing room. Lassco is a wonderful Georgian house crammed full of salvage and artifacts. Inside you’ll find the Brunswick House Café, a wonderfully original restaurant with delicious food cooked using locally sourced ingredients served in an eclectic setting.
SaksPOV: Do you have tickets for the London Olympics?
A.H.: My husband has managed to buy a few — whether he’ll decide to take me or not I don’t know!
SaksPOV: What do you always carry in your handbag?
A.H.: My iPhone, my Leica camera, pictures of my family, and chocolate!
SaksPOV: Which person over your career were you the most proud to see carrying one of your bags?
A.H.: Margaret Thatcher, because she was such an inspiration to me when I was starting my business.
SaksPOV: You were awarded an MBE from the Queen in 2009, in recognition of your contribution to the British fashion industry. What was it like meeting the Queen?
A.H.: A true honor, to me she is such an icon.