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My Cultural Life: Anya Hindmarch

An arbiter of taste tells us what they’re reading, watching and more

Handbag designer Anya Hindmarch portrait
Anya Hindmarch

A British success story, Anya Hindmarch CBE first found fame for her irreverent handbags in the 1990s, which could be personalised with everything from fried eggs and googly eyes to a photograph of your children. Even her £5 woven carrier, bearing the slogan ‘I’m not a plastic bag’, sold out in Sainsbury’s after 30 minutesin 2007. These days, as well as overseeing 45 shops worldwide, Hindmarch has a home fragrance collection called ‘Anya Smells’– launching this month are three new candles, including our favourite, the herbal ‘Toothpaste’. anyahindmarch.com

Grimm's Fairy Tales book
Rockport Publishers

One of my all-time favourite records is the choral piece I Was Glad by Hubert Parry. When I was younger, I dreamed of being an opera singer – I still do, actually. I love music – it makes me really happy.

What am I reading at the moment? Sadly, to be truthful, it’s my emails. But the book that has influenced me the most over the years is Grimm’s Fairy Tales.

London Cabman’s Shelter
London Cabman’s Shelter

My favourite thing to watch is Sir David Attenborough’s nature programmes. He is a hero to me, with a voice like treacle that I could listen to forever. I admire the patience and technical skill that goes into capturing nature on film. For me, the shows are an escape from the pace of my life and work, as well as being a humbling reminder that we are all part of the natural world.

Lassco reclamation warehouse

If I had an entirely free day in London, I would start with breakfast at one of the London Cabmen’s Shelters, those tiny green wooden huts dotted around central London. They’ve been around since 1875, to make sure taxi drivers could get a cup of tea and a bite to eat. Only 13 of them are open today, and they are all Grade II-listed. While the shelters don’t allow non-taxi drivers in, you can order through a hatch, which is worth it – they serve the very best bacon sandwiches and mugs of tea. It’s the perfect English breakfast. I would then head to Lassco, where, if my family would allow it, I would spend every Saturday. It has an incredible range of salvage and curiosities. I’ve found all sorts here, from reclaimed floorboards to taps for my bathroom. Finally, I’d call at Maggs Bros bookshop. I always leave feeling inspired and creative, and with a little something special tucked away in my bag.

Shop at the V&A

When I visit museums I always make a beeline for the shop and children’s gifts, particularly at the V&A.

Tangier, Morocco
Tangier, Morocco

My favourite place on earth is Tangier, Morocco. It is easy to get to, but still feels far away. I like to visit the souk (marketplace) on Thursday or Sunday, and see the Rif mountain women in their colourful traditional dress, selling their wares, followed by tea at the El Minzah hotel. I’ll go to the Kasbah and the Kasbah Museum, located in the former Sultan’s Palace, which has a wonderful garden. I also pick up my perfume from Madini, a luxury that I cherish – they create a personal perfume blend for you.

Toothpaste candle by Anya Hindmarch
Anya Hindmarch

The famous quote that I particularly like is by Oscar Wilde: ‘Be yourself, everyone else is taken.’ It’s brilliant – I think it says it all.

This article first appeared in ELLE Decoration May 2019

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