A large part of the drive behind my sartorial choices is reimagining and seeking out the things that I loved and wanted to wear when I was a teen, but I didn't, because I was too young (lingerie slip dresses, power suits), or it was too expensive (anything Prada LOL). My main inspiration is becoming the woman I imagined I could be when I was younger, if you will.
And so it is inevitable that I am drawn into Anya Hindmarch's accessories much like the way I imagine kids lose their shit when they walk into an FAO Schwarz. She appeals to my often-youth-leaning style tendencies, which favor bright colors and fuzzy textures over whatever "black is the new black" outfit I should be wearing. Walking into her store on Madison Avenue, for example, makes me immediately wish I was one of those kids that won that "run around Toys 'R' Us with a shopping cart for a minute" contest in the '90s, except I would just pile my cart high with leather totebags and cross-body bags and backpacks in all the colors of the rainbow, featuring a mad array of characters like pixel monsters, emojis, smiley faces, and my weirdly favorite obsession — a fried egg.
The British designer started her label in 1987, after inspiration struck while on a post-high-school trip to Florence, where she fell in love with leather and craftsmanship and a little leather duffel-bag style she knew all her friends back at home would adore. Not long after, Princess Diana became a fan. Lady Di would drop into Anya's shop in London by herself to buy her little "cleavage bags," because she used them to cover herself up while getting in and out of cars. By the mid-aughts, when Hindmarch's "I'm Not a Plastic Bag" bags were as ubiquitous as, well, actual plastic bags, she had already become a woman behind a global empire. What I'm saying is, she knows what she's doing.
The best part is that underneath all the fun, there is an unwavering commitment to craftsmanship and luxury. This is particularly evident if you happen to go into the second floor of her Madison Avenue store, which is a bespoke workshop where artisans can engrave whatever your heart desires on leather, or even create a custom carrying pouch for any bizarre combination of objects you deem essential. Last time I was in there, there was a little bag made for carrying condoms and other sensual essentials that was just SO charming and immediately got me thinking of what highly specific item I always carry with me and needed a leather carrying case for — pencils? Tampons? Lipstick? All of the above?
I first met Anya last year, exactly two days after the election, at a dinner she had organized in her store where she turned her second-floor workshop into the coziest little dining room. My feelings of hating literally everything were heightened, and the last thing I wanted to do was spend a night around "fashion people" talking about God knows what or pretending that the world wasn't about to fall in flames around us. It was a rainy night, and I was the first one to arrive. Anya and I immediately bonded over the aforementioned fried-egg obsession. Because Anya was so inviting, I ended up feeling pleased when the conversation made its way to the Twilight Zone –like episode that we were currently living through: we talked about Trump and Brexit and so many other real-world things. Then we sat around a long table, where, in between bites of the most heavenly shepherd's pie, we played a ridiculous game of unwrapping a present and wearing crazy wigs and masks. It was the first time in at least 48 hours that I had laughed and remembered what being a human was again.